Tarnia Lake turned 28 years old on Sunday, February 26, 2012. Her birthday plans were dramatically altered when she received a stage 3 Breast Cancer diagnoses in November of 2011. Since that time she has undergone a bilateral mastectomy and started chemotherapy on Monday, February 27. She has posted a journal of her Breast Cancer experience on FaceBook called My Cancer Journey. It includes every detail, as well as pictures. In lieu of a birthday party, Tarnia decided to host a Breast Cancer Awareness event to share the knowledge that she gained through her whirlwind battle with Breast Cancer.
While still in the hospital recovering from her surgery, Tarnia started a Breast Cancer Awareness organization called Be Strong Stay Strong Live Strong. Because she was only 27 years old with such an advanced condition, Tarnia set out to learn as much about the disease as possible and raise awareness. Based on studies, including Cancer Facts and Figures for African Americans, African Americans are diagnosed with Breast Cancer at a lower rate, but die from Breast Cancer at a higher rate. This has been largely attributed to later detection, lack of education about the disease and little knowledge of family health history.
On Saturday night, February 25, 2012, The Be Strong Stay Strong Live Strong organization hosted its first event, the Breast Cancer Awareness Hip Hop Party at The Beauty Bar. Support poured in from family, friends and sponsors, including Pat’s Pastry Palace, The Hard Rock Hotel and Showplace ICON Theatre. The proceeds were donated to the Y-Me Breast Cancer Support Organization. Y-Me is the only organization that offers 24hr trained counseling for Breast Cancer patients. Mrs. Zara Johnson, Mrs. Illinois 2012, spoke and answered question on behalf of Y-Me. She is also a breast cancer survivor.
The hostess for the evening was Farrah Turenne, while guest were entertained by DJ Marcus Shadden. There were also live music performances by Mike D, T.R.O.Y, A.M. (AbstrakMind), Alonna DeVille and The LockNess Monsta. One of the most touching moments of the night was when, Tarnia introduced her surgeon, Dr. Alicia Growney and thanked her for “giving her life.” Mr. Michael House, president of the Chicago Defender newspaper, attended with his wife, Mrs. Doris House. Fox News Reporter, Robin Robinson was in attendance as well. Even though Breast Cancer is a seriously deadly issue in our community, Tarnia Lake and the Be Strong Stay Stong Live Strong Team hosted a wonderful event, full of laughter and good times, while raising Awareness about Breast Cancer.