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Brooke Taylor began building her legacy of caring after life-altering diagnosis


Brooke Clay Taylor lives her life in three-month increments, following a life-altering cancer diagnosis. On July 22, 2019, Taylor gave birth to her daughter — and on the same day she was diagnosed with stage 2, triple-negative breast cancer.

What led to this amazing and agonizing day?

Taylor found a lump while she was pregnant and brought it up with her doctors. However, she said it was not taken seriously. While at a pregnancy checkup, Taylor told her doctor she was not leaving the lump was checked out. At age 31, while holding her brand new baby, she heard the words no one wants to hear: You have cancer.

Image courtesy of Brooke Clay Taylor

Following the birth of her daughter and her diagnosis — of stage 2, triple-negative breast cancer and the BRCA1 gene — Taylor underwent five months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiation, hysterectomy, and oophorectomy.

“No one chooses to see an oncologist, but good things happen in the midst of bad,” Taylor said.

Taylor shared her story authentically online at Rural Gone Urban, on Facebook and Instagram, in what she called the #realreel. She shared the tears, the baldness, and the fear. But she also shared the laughs, the love, and the support of her community. Taylor spent her career behind the curtain for agriculture and media as a communications professional for an agency and then with her own business. Now she shares her personal story in a relatable way.

“There were no strategies like I created for my clients in the past; just raw honesty,” Taylor explained. “In a world where everything is strategic, the #realreel resonated with people.”

Image courtesy of Brooke Clay Taylor

For two years she lived her best life with her husband, Damon, and daughter, Elsie, in Oklahoma. On Christmas Day in 2021, she noticed her lymph nodes were swollen but blamed a cold going through the family at the time. However, following a speaking engagement in March, she noticed the physical changes and swelling in pictures.

The diagnosis that followed was another, larger life-altering one for the young mother. Stage 4 metastatic, triple-negative breast cancer that had spread to her neck, spine, pelvis, ribs, and clavicle.

“I was diagnosed with an allegedly incurable disease, and my first thought was that my 2-year-old child might not remember me,” Taylor said.

Following her stage 4 diagnosis, Taylor began creating memories and memorabilia for her daughter, Elsie. They went on a family cruise, went to Disney and Elsie picked out her gifts for milestones like high school and college graduation, wedding, and first child.

“My job is to be a great mom and a great wife,” Taylor said. “To do what good I can before I graduate to heaven. Whether that’s in three months, three years, or 45 years.”

While many people view her story as solely tragic, Taylor constantly looks for silver linings. She began sharing her story to serve as a guide for other people.

One in eight women will encounter a breast cancer diagnosis. Taylor’s first tumor was found at 31, while she was pregnant with her child, showing that cancer does not discriminate. She encourages her followers, of all ages, to check for breast cancer and advocate for themselves with their doctors. She supports the #feelthemonthefirst movement meaning a self-exam on the first of every month.

Image courtesy of Brooke Clay Taylor

Along with encouraging women to do self-exams, schedule appointments, and advocate for their health, Taylor has taken an even bigger step in building her legacy. In the wake of her diagnosis, she created the Rural Gone Urban Foundation.

This foundation is built around and for the rural community that has supported Taylor throughout all seasons of her life. The purpose of the foundation is to invest in strong women doing brave things.

“What if we can take this trying time and pivot to make someone else’s life better?” asked Taylor.

The Rural Gone Urban Foundation has three pillars of giving:

  1. Scholarships for B students
  2. Small business grants in rural America
  3. Love bombing cancer patients

Taylor credits her support system for never letting her fall through every season of life — attending college as a first-generation and a B student, leaving the strategic communications agency world to start her own business to being diagnosed and fighting breast cancer. She created the Rural Gone Urban Foundation to help people who could benefit from the community and the support she has received over the years — both of which were imperative to allowing her to build her life and legacy.

After being on treatment for what was believed to be incurable stage 4 metastatic triple-negative breast cancer for less than a year, Taylor received another potentially life-altering notice from her oncologist: Her PET scan in September 2022 was completely clean. There was no detectable cancer in her body.

The good news was followed with advice that she has already been living — continue building your legacy. Her doctor told her, “Go be a keynote speaker. Be a mom. Be an entrepreneur. Do it all.”

Michelle Bufkin Horton is a freelance communication specialist whose goal is to help producers bridge the farm-to-plate knowledge gap that exists with consumers today. She uses her full-time position as the Membership and Communication Director at the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association to interact with producers and work on building that connection.

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