Sarah Thebarge was an unlikely breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at age 27, and breast cancer in young women can be very aggressive. And she beat even steeper odds surviving a second — then a third recurrence — and then a bout with sepsis, which is itself often fatal.
From the time Thebarge was diagnosed, she began to question her conservative religious upbringing. She was angry at a God that would allow her to lose both her breasts and then her fertility, since her ovaries shut down after the chemo.
God was supposed to start giving back what He’d taken, and here He was, taking even more. And He wasn’t just depriving me of fertility; He was taking my identity. I already had a difficult time looking in the mirror and seeing my deformed chest, extensive scars, and bald head staring back at me. I already struggled to feel female, and here He was, taking the last part that made me a girl.
Interwoven in her story is how she met a Somali refugee by chance on the MAX train, and how she developed a relationship with the woman’s five daughters. Thebarge began writing about these girls in a blog that ultimately became the book, and ultimately chose to donate the proceeds from the book sales to send the girls to college.
Have you read The Invisible Girls? What questions do you have for Sarah Thebarge?
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OPB | Feb. 22, 2017