BMC Employee Celebrates Remission on the Runway

Taryn Graham walked in the Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care on Thursday.

Taryn Graham

Taryn Graham on the runway/Photo by Jamie Ducharme

All Taryn Graham wanted was to work at Boston Medical Center (BMC). She had no idea she’d soon be a patient there, too.

“I wanted to work here so bad, so I can hug people through the phone,” says Graham, a service representative in the hospital’s otolaryngology department. “I give hugs and I give love. I wanted to make an extra difference in how we treat our patients. I knew that was my calling.”

But 89 days into her calling—and just a month after BMC diagnosed her best friend, Frances, with cancer—Graham got a stunning diagnosis of her own: breast cancer. Suddenly, the Moakley Building, where she had worked for the past three months, was also her treatment center.

“I took everybody in that clinic through this process with me, everyone,” she remembers. “I tried to show everybody what breast cancer was. I was trying to tell everybody, ‘We don’t have to be afraid.'”

Her fearlessness paid off. Today, after a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, Graham is a year cancer-free—a feat she celebrated on Thursday by walking alongside fellow BMC survivors, doctors, and friends of the hospital in the annual Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care benefit fashion show. Strutting the runway in a turquoise sequined mini-dress and silver knee-high gladiator heels, Graham was the picture of upbeat optimism. But for her, the night was about more than fashion.

Two years ago, Graham’s friend Frances walked in the show. Through the generosity of their shared oncologist, Graham was able to attend the event and support her friend, despite being in the midst of treatment herself.

“[Frances] passed a month after that,” Graham remembers. “So now I’m walking for her and me this year. It means a little bit more to me. She was my inspiration.”

In return, Graham says she’s trying her best to inspire others, both in and out of BMC. Though she’s not sure what her next act holds—motivational speaking comes to mind—she says she’ll keep giving back to BMC, while brightening the days of those around her.

“This is what happens on the other side of cancer. You’re a warrior now. I feel like I have my shield and I have my sword and I’m ready to take over, because now there’s now fears,” she says. “Life is not that serious, people. I just wish I could take the stress away from everybody, because if they knew what tomorrow was they wouldn’t be worrying about today. People have to take a different outlook on life.”