The Natasha Olson Girard Young Adults Program

Natasha with Seek Happiness and butterflies overlay

Friends and Family Share Their Memories

NATASHA OLSON GIRARD


Natasha touched many people.  She graduated with a BA in Psychology and her Masters in Marriage Family Therapy.  Her Passion was helping people. She loved singing, softball, snowboarding, crafting and traveling.

Everything that she loved she started to lose with poor health.  She was diagnosed with cancer in July 2017 at age 29 and lived a life of courage, strength and hope for the next two years. The cancer was found in her brain, initially.  A few days later we were told she had non-small cell lung cancer, HER2 positive, Exon 20 mutation. 

She started the standard of care treatment, Carboplatin, Keytruda and radiation once her brain healed from surgery. Two weeks after she was diagnosed, August 3, 2017, she married the love of her life, Kurtis Girard at the Laguna Hills Courthouse knowing she would start to plan her dream wedding for August 3, 2019. Natasha and Kurtis moved to San Clemente to live with her Momma and Daddy Mike.

She had more doctors appointments than imaginable. For some appointments she was accompanied by a party of seven, Kurtis, Mom, Daddy Mike, Dad, Michele, Nana and Papa. She continued with this support throughout her journey along with over 100 of her friends love and support. She was feeling pretty good and the lung tumors were shrinking and then 8 months later they discovered more than 20 brain and spinal tumors. So, on to whole-brain and spinal radiation and a drug called Afatinib. 

This landed her in the hospital with fever and severe intestinal problems.  With the brain tumors showing stable from the radiation, Karen and Marcia with ICAN helped expedite her entry into the Poziotinib trial. This trial added nine months to her life. In just one month time of being on the trial, her brain metastasis significantly decreased. Natasha finished the trial at the end of January 2019 and was told to move her wedding up from August to sooner. The doctor had said she had three to six months left to live life. 

I immediately call Marcia at ICAN and talked through some options.  Marcia was available day and night for short or lengthy discussions regarding treatment. We couldn’t have made it without the help of ICAN. In the two years she lived after being diagnosed, she had courage, bravery, persistence, hope, love, friendship, family and a will to live like no other.

We planned the wedding in just six weeks with the help of our many friends and family and Tasha got to have her dream wedding on April 20, 2019. This was the most beautiful day of her and our lives.  She was blessed on this beautiful day of her wedding by feeling the best she had felt in two years. What a miracle this was.

During this time, Tasha and her Mom, traveled to Sedona, New Zealand, Cancun, Belize, Cuba, Costa Maya, Harvest Caya, and Great Stirrup. She traveled to Big Sir, Hawaii and Bora Bora with Kurtis. We were all blessed with the gift of time to live, talk, love each other and to know what Natasha truly wanted for her passing, celebration of life and the spreading of her ashes.

Stanley the Giraffe with Tash and Wendy

She passed peacefully with her Mom Wendy, her Daddy Mike, and her husband Kurtis around her with lots of love and respect for her fight. 

She had told us that she wanted her life to be celebrated like a wedding and with her favorite giraffe, Stanley, at the Malibu winery and a lot of monarch butterflies. There were over 50 friends working to plan this beautiful event that would turn up over 200 loved ones. People wearing her favorite color purple and the #TEAMTASH shirts that were sold to raise money for her medical costs.  She had a last request for us to spread bits of ashes at all of the bucket list places she did not get to travel to. It has been a healing process for us. 

Natasha Lee was nothing less than a miracle on this planet who has touched so many people.  I cannot thank ICAN enough for all of their help, advice and comfort through this whole process.  As Tasha would say, “LOVE LIFE.”

Gratefully,
_Wendy


From the moment Natasha was born, we were completely bonded for life. She was my person, my best friend, my little Monarch butterfly, and she flew away as peacefully as she flew in.

During the seven years I was a single mom, going to college and teaching at a gym, she would come with me a lot. She started teaching her stuffed animals aerobic classes. We were inseparable for the rest of her life. . When I would meet her dad for the weekend exchange, we would share a whole pint of Ben and Jerry"s ice cream on the way home. We always took a vacation together, just the two of us every year. Looking back in my travel journal of our trip to New Zealand, the things we laughed about everyday about my terrible driving on the opposite side of the road. Turning right into head on traffic, driving too close to a mountain on her side of the car, We laughed hysterically over these things and talked a lot about it after. Our love was deeper than no other. We snowboarded, played softball, did yoga, and public speaking together. She hated when I would rub my feet together with socks on and she would say, "Mom, with the socks!" She would share what was happening in her life with me and I was honored that she confided in me. Her friends were my friends and vice versa .

Her favorite giraffe was Stanley who lives at the Malibu winery and he made her so happy whenever we went to see him. She wanted her celebration of life to be with Stanley and like a wedding. We made it happen and it was beautiful. The honor I feel for being able to spend quality time with her the last two year of her life was invaluable. I look at photos and sometimes I can't tell if it is her or me. I look in the mirror and see her in me. When she flew away, I knew that we would be together forever. She will be a young, beautiful 31-year-old woman in my eyes, never to grow old and continue to be my teacher for the rest of my life on this earth.

I can't wait to see you again my beautiful, courageous, sassy, strong, faithful baby. You will always be with me my girl.

Love

_Momma, I love you more momma.


Darkness to the Light  
Lyrics and Vocals – Natasha Olson Girard

Natasha was excited for the opportunity to record this song and to share it with friends and family.

Use the audio controls below to listen.


Natasha inspired life. She filled us with the desire to experience life – all of its glory and its trappings to - and the willingness to do the work to access life’s experiences.

From a young age, Natasha had a playful and sometimes mischievous smile. Her energy and sometimes obsessive desire to compete was infectious. Winning wasn’t the main goal: living – that was the main goal.

Throughout her college academic and sports activities she never wavered in her interest to live. Her careers objectives were important, yes. Her sports objectives were important, yes. Her relationships were important, yes. But nothing was more important than living! And she lived a full life. Mostly she made awesome, smart and well-informed decisions. A few times she probably wanted a do-over on one or two decisions. It didn’t matter. What mattered was living. She believed fiercely that living came with rewards, risks, good decisions, bad decisions, do-overs, tremendous happiness and sometimes sadness.

Most of what she taught her family, especially in the last two years and even in the last two months, was that she expected us to do what she did: live. That means eating food on a regular basis. That means exercising. That means being kind to our fellows. That means accepting informed risk, celebrating success, and being prepared to fail.

Natasha taught us that inspiration doesn’t come from sitting on the couch eating funyons, it comes from living and eating pickles.

_Daddy Mike


Tash and Kurtis funny photo with tongues sticking out

Tash was someone that never went unnoticed at an event. She was beautiful and her personality shone in the best way. She was the one that dressed up for a themed event, the one noticed in a group of laughter or generally the instigator of the laughs, the kind of person that everyone quieted down to listen to. She also had a knack for being a voice for others that needed to be heard and she lived vibrantly. Tash was real when the situation needed it and so absurdly opposite when everyone needed to lighten up a little.

One time I took over managing a softball team we played on and Tash was pretty adamant about how she absolutely was not going to co-manage it with me. I would spend at least an hour working on a game plan which she would always have a few "suggestions" to my lineup and positioning... Every week she would make changes and let me put the manager hat on and inform everyone of "my game plan". That lasted like four or more seasons until she was diagnosed.

I am forever changed as a person because of the love she showed me. I learned so much from the example of strength she set. I will never forget how she would slide some "tashism" into a conversation like "That's Preposterous, Rude, Wow ShoGOOD and Shaw" and many laughs that came after no matter how many times she used the phrase. Her uncanny ability to take pictures of me asleep in awkward positions and the first burst of her laughter after I would wake up to find it in my text messages.

I love you babe,
_Hubby Kurtis Girard


Andrea and Tasha

Tasha is my big sister.

She taught me to warm up my peanut butter with chocolate sauce before dipping my apples in it. She always made me finish my mac & cheese before she would agree to play barbies with me. She taught me to tie my shoes and build a professional fort. She plucked my eyebrows for me and created my very first email account. She told the best scary stories and played the most thorough pretend games. She gave the greatest hugs and had the most expressive face.

As a child and a young woman, she was my role model in all things fashion, attitude, and, most importantly, life outlook. I grew up admiring her edginess alongside her commitment to school, sports, and work. The way she inspired everyone around her has always been obvious, and I am proud to say that I live a life very much inspired by the way she lived hers.

To truly know Tash, was to love her—her hard spots and her soft ones. I miss her every single day and will always feel grateful for the way she shared her heart with me and with the rest of the world. Her niece will be raised to know her as a hell-raiser and a miracle, a picture of strength and beauty. And I will cherish every single memory with her for the rest of my days.

My love always, dearest sister.

_Morgan


My name is Angel and I had the privilege and honor of mentoring Natasha for over 10 years. When I first met her, she was tough and strong-willed with a fierce determination to do things “her way.” I had no idea those strengths would be such a guiding force of Natasha and Angelfighting cancer! She is my hero in so many ways.

Through the years, I watched that hardness soften. The strength and fierce determination to live life to the fullest never left her. She radiated God's light of love. Her laugh was contagious and her ability to take direction even when she didn’t want to, was incredibly inspiring.

I am forever changed by witnessing her trust in the process and facing life’s hardest challenges with grace. I love you sweet girl. Thank you for trusting me with your deepest secrets and giving me the opportunity to be in your life. I love and miss you every day. I see you in nature and especially with the monarch butterflies that follow me on my hikes.

Love you fierce one,
_ Angel


I met Natasha through her Mom,  Wendy. They looked so much alike—twins, sisters, clones!

My relationship with Natasha was intimate, but more as a "watchful observer" to her amazing growth as a sober member of her fellowship, a leader, an athlete, a therapist, an artist, a woman, daughter, step-daughter and wife. What an exceptional person!

Pro-active in every aspect of her life, Natasha, was primarily a GIVER. She gave everything she had to anyone that needed or wanted her input or service. What an exceptional individual!

And when Tash became ill, the same force, vibrant and tenatious woman gave her complete body, heart and soul to, again, help others. By committing to several clinical trials, Natasha Girard, continued to give to the ones that will benefit from her results for years to come. What an exceptional selfless participant!

So, in memory of Tash, here and now—one year later—let me say that her life and legacy will continue to touch many we know and many we may never know. Her reach and energy go far beyond what the eye can see.

What and exceptional spirit!

I will continue to see my monarch fly...

Love,
_Lois


I’m Annita,

I had the honor and pleasure of knowing Natasha Lee at 18 yrs of age. She had a passion for life and determined to focus and accomplish her goals. She was artistic, extremely organized and would make a plan and follow through. Natasha and AnitaShe was a big sister to Morgan and Mikie. She also was a Big sister to my Children Jordyn and Adam. She was always there for them if they ever needed her and they knew it.

She also had the best sense of humor and would make us all laugh. She had her own style and way about her that exuded confidence. If she believed in something she stood up and made sure her feelings were known. She had compassion for others. Natasha was quick to help loved ones as well as strangers.

I got to witness the most beautiful mother and daughter relationship between Wendy and Natasha. I learned a lot about that relationship that made me a better Mom and Daughter. I will never forget the ski trips we took. girl weekends, beach time and vacations we had. We also played beauty shop..lol. It was never a dull moment to be around her. I saw her grow from a young lady to a beautiful adult women.

Natasha, you will always have a special place in my heart and all the precious moments we shared. Although your life here on earth was short, I know your journey continues. We will meet again.

Love you sweet girl,

_Annita


Natasha and dog

Dear Tashy,

What a remarkable young lady you are. Everyday my life is happier and more complete as a direct result of your willingness to carry a message to me of strength, honor, grace, and service. I carry you with me every single day, I see you everywhere, I hear your voice always, and I feel your inspiration on a truly personal and actionable level.

I keep this favorite photo of mine on the stereo cabinet. I see it constantly throughout the day but especially when I’m listening to music and watching racing. You taught me about music, and I am grateful for this among so many other things. And I might have taught you a thing or two about racing.

Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for teaching me, and allowing me to learn to love and to parent. Thank you for being you.

Love always,
_Daddy Mike


Dad (Pat), Natasha and Michele

Natasha is my one and only child and I miss her dearly. Even though I didn't see her as often as I'd liked, I treasured every moment with her.

My fondest memories are when she would come visit me and we'd go to the Padres game, out to restaurants, cook together (and she would always give me suggestions on how to make my food better), watch movies, and do crafts.

The last few years of her life, the two of us starting making wood signs and furniture together. I'd cut, sand, and build, and Tasha would stain and add details. I will always treasure those moments.

I dearly miss those times and will cherish them forever.

_Dad (Pat Olson)


Dad (Pat), Natasha and Michele

I'm Michele, and I am Tasha's dad's girlfriend. In fact, I've been the girlfriend so long that Tasha would lovingly refer to me as her "Stepmom" and I her, "Stepdaughter".

The first time meeting Tasha, I learned of her spunky personality and love of life. We spent many special times together going to the Swap Meet, cooking, watching movies, and crafting. Tasha and I both had the love of crafting and would spend hours creating things.

One of the most special times I shared with Tasha is when her dad took the two of us to a fancy restaurant for Valentine's Day. If any of you have been out to eat with Tasha, you know how she places her order: add this, take off this, etc). It was fun to watch.

I saw Tasha in good times and bad times, triumphs and struggles and she always handled each situation with great dignity. She was quite a fighter. There are so many memories I have of Tasha and I treasure each one and miss her terribly.

Love you Tasha,

_Michele


I met Tash in 2012, we were pretty inseparable for a while after that. The world is not the same without her beautiful and caring soul. Tash's bright spirit, great sense of humor, and infectious laugh are unforgettable. She often brought people together with weekly movie nights, inviting people over to the house to eat and hang out, and filling our lives with recovery. One evening, Angel O ate an entire bowl of homemade BBQ sauce, because Tash thought it was soup. He didn't know it until I asked "Who ate all the BBQ sauce?" She would also threaten to kick anyone out of movie night if they kept rubbing their feet together (with socks on). We laughed a lot together. 

She was an inspirational human being. In the last few months, she told me that she just wanted her family to be taken care of. She taught me the importance of not sweating the small stuff, and to do the things in life that bring me joy. I am a better person because of her. I miss her so much. I cherish the memories we have. She will always be one of the greatest blessings in my life. 

_Rhea


Tasha and Alex

Natasha was one of those people that you felt lucky to know. Her presence was powerful and her love was meaningful. She had this unbelievable ability to leave an imprint on every soul she met. She was honest, authentic and funny. Her intelligence took over the room and when she spoke she managed to grab everyone’s attention.

Almost exactly a year since her passing, I can say with confidence that the world will never be the same. The lessons I learned from watching her navigate through recovery, her career, love, friendships and cancer, will forever be a part of my being. Her strength, courage and sheer desire to survive in every aspect of her life was empowering to witness. I’m reminded of her constantly, no matter what life presents, I can always hear her telling me how it is. She was always perfect at just telling it how it is - skip the sweet talk and sugarcoating and get straight to the point. That’s what I admired most and what I think I miss the most.

Im honored to call her my softball sister, my life wife, my best friend. She filled my heart forever, and I have so much gratitude to have been a part of her journey.

_Alex Garafalo


Tasha and Alex

I had the sincere honor of being Tasha’s Massage Therapist through her hardest journey, as well as being her personal friend. A week before she Made her Transition I was honored to hang out in her comfy bed with her and her mama Wendy for 3 hours! And, of course...POLAR her stuffed bear. GIRLS NIGHT! I massaged her the whole time as she ate her favorite red licorice. We laughed and cried because we knew this could be our last visit...and it was.

About a week later as I was in my home next door I had an urgent feeling to run outside...my heart knew something had changed...I bowed my head on my balcony to say my final farewell as she took flight one last time. To see her family silently waving goodby as the vehicle rolled away will stay in my heart forever as a cherished gift.

Tasha taught me so much...but living life to the fullest and seizing all opportunities with the strongest will to fight will forever stand out for me. She may have chosen to fly free in this lifetime, but she F****ed Cancer Up along the way! Way to go baby girl...I miss you every day and I keep the humming bird feeders filled just for you!

_Cara Price


Tasha and Alex

Tasha was our first grandchild. She was a special young lady. She loved life and fought very hard to stay with us. It has been a year now and has been in our hearts and mind every day.

She lived with us for a year when she was four years old. What a great and fun time we had. Tasha and her cousins were close, spending many nights with them and waking up to ask Nana to make cinnamon rolls. We took her to New York twice and made great memories. Tasha started making cannoli’s and yams our last few years with her.

Our hearts go out to her everyday and moment. She was so active in her life, loving softball so much. We were honored many times to see her school plays, softball games, graduations, and vacation.

We love you Tasha with all our hearts and love, forever and always,
_Nana


Natasha felt like coming home. Her curious and bright spirit always left a room warmer than when you first entered it. I have too many memories of us together to describe just one, but here are some memories that probably are worth more than 1000 words.

I love you,
_Cortni

To post your own tribute about Natasha here, please email us at ICANCancerPrograms@askican.org and we will post it within 24 hours. Please include your phone number.

The Natasha Olson Girard Young Adults Program
is a vital part of ICAN's Cancer Patient Advocacy and Clinical Trials Program Advocacy Services.

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