‘Blessing’ to Others:
When Dale Tarrant decided to blog about his battle with a rare form of cancer last November, the Magna purchasing clerk at Drive Automotive Industries in South Carolina had no idea his words would offer encouragement to people as far away as India.
The blog is full of dramatic details about Tarrant’s diagnosis of neuroendocrine stomach cancer in 2014, initial surgery, and recurrence of the disease five years later that resulted in his decision to undergo a complete gastrectomy or the removal of his stomach. Just hours after that 2019 surgery, Tarrant’s wife Lynnette had a mild heart attack, and the two ended up in the same hospital at the same time.
I’ve always liked to tell stories and make people laugh and feel good. My message is even if the doctor says you’ve got the dreaded ‘C’ word, there is still life. There is still hope.
“I saw my wife being pushed in a wheelchair, coming to my room to see me,” he wrote. “The nurse pushed her up close to my bed, so we could hug and kiss and have our picture taken together because we were wearing the exact same hospital gowns.”
But the deeply personal story, written by a man who says he “loves to eat and loves food,” contains lighter elements.
“You may not believe this, but before my surgery, I decided that I wanted to try and beat my record of the most hot dogs I could eat at one time,” he wrote. “I ended up breaking my record of six by eating seven hot dogs in 18 minutes. That was an item on my bucket list that I could now scratch off!”
Tarrant said he’s pleased his story has resonated with so many people.
Dale Tarrant, Magna purchasing clerk at Drive Automotive Industries in South Carolina and his wife Lynnette
The family dogs Mike and Molly
“I’ve always liked to tell stories and make people laugh and feel good,” said the 26-year Magna veteran, who also served in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army National Guard. “My message is even if the doctor says you’ve got the dreaded ‘C’ word, there is still life. There is still hope.”
Tarrant said he draws his strength from his faith. His maternal grandfather, the Rev. Claude Arnold Hightower, was a Baptist minister for over 55 years, and one of Tarrant’s role models. Another relative, the Rev. Veldee Hightower, provided emotional support as Tarrant recovered from surgery. Today, he wants to pass along that positive spirit.
“It gives me a warm feeling if I can be a blessing or an encouragement to someone,” he said.
Since his 2019 surgery, Tarrant has lost 115 pounds. His gradual return to eating without intravenous feeding began 34 days after the operation, which reconnected the esophagus to the small intestine. Tarrant’s post-operative diet started with simple things like popsicles, and then progressed to grits and scrambled eggs. Today, he now can eat almost anything.
As Tarrant continues to regain his strength, he is back at work and returning to the activities of daily living.
He and Lynnette recently moved into a new home, adopted a dog named Mike, and are planning some outdoor improvements. Another goal: ramping up his activities in the cancer support community to increase awareness through walkathons and drives. His blog post at gastrectomyconnections.com includes his email and phone number. Its global reach garnered a request from a woman in India who wrote to him on behalf of her sister, who suffers from the same cancer.
“I told my wife I want to share this,” he said. “If I can touch just one person and give them hope and inspiration, it will be worth it.”