Shelley Tarescavage

As a teenager (and still to this day) I loved fashion, makeup, and—above all else—hair. In high
school, I even began taking cosmetology classes in hopes of one day owning my own salon as a
hair dresser. But, my future would change dramatically at the age of 16, when I developed a
small, seemingly harmless bump on my right (dominant) wrist. It turned out that the small bump
was on the surface of a tangled, spiderweb of cancerous cells wrapping around my entire
forearm. My dad and I traveled around the country in search of experimental treatments, none of
which were effective. I had my right forearm amputated a few months after my 18 th
birthday—my welcome into adulthood.
I was blessed. My amputation was below the elbow, so I could use a functional prosthetic. More
importantly, I was alive and free of the cancerous cells. But, as an 18 year-old, I truly did not feel
blessed. I couldn’t finish my cosmetology program. I couldn’t picture my future. And I felt
insecure—How could anyone love me? Would I ever have children? What would I do with my
At the age of 25, I had yet another battle with cancer, as I had a reoccurrence in my shoulder and
lungs. I underwent radiation and inpatient chemotherapy treatment. I lost my hair. The doctors
told me that I lost the ability to have a child. Here we go again, I thought, feeling insecure and
worried about my future.
I am now 30 years-old. My husband proposed to me five years ago, the night I was told that my
cancer had reoccurred. I have a son that was born two years ago, three years after doctors told me
that I couldn’t conceive a child. I am alive and in remission. My hair is down to my shoulders,
and I have a prosthetic arm that looks so real that people try to shake it when they meet me.
In short, I am living the future that I could not imagine. Thank you, LSK foundation.