THE road less travelled is not the one between Sydney and Taree for Tanya Saad.
In recent months it has guided her to her childhood home of the Manning Valley twice since the April release of her book, 'From The Feet Up' and to fine-tune her commitment to be an ambassador for the Manning Winter Festival.
She has again made the trip from Sydney to Taree this month (June) to to speak at a champagne luncheon hosted by Quota International Taree.
The event is titled 'Wielding a Double Edge Sword' and will be at St John's Church hall in Taree on June 20 from noon.
Tanya is a "Taree Saad" and a proud member of a small but very visible family in our community. Visible, says Tanya because they are not Anglo Saxon and visible because of their ownership and community contact with their successful footwear stores.
Visible was not something Tanya wanted to be during her childhood in Taree as she fought to find friends, survive relentless bullying at school and ultimately, searched for her place within our community.
That was then. This is now.
Now Tanya is very visible and very aware of her place and purpose.
Her name, face, heritage, sexuality and breasts are on television, in magazines and newspapers following her choice to share her story about the decision to have a preventative double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after learning she had the deadly BRCA 1 gene.
The story is now committed to paper in 'From The Feet Up' and since its publication she has returned to Taree numerous times to promote it as part of a national campaign, but more importantly, to promote the need for people to be aware of the medical history of their family, to raise the issue of genetic testing as a preventative health measure and to encourage people to see the value in developing resilience through hard life experiences.
Tanya was 30-years-old when she discovered that she had the life-threatening gene fault and said it "forced her to make choices" and to consider her "life in a very real way."
"You know, my life has a common thread of three experiences that I see as really defining me. My heritage, faulty genetics and my sexuality.
"Remarkably, the BRCA 1 gene fault in some ways was a less of an impact on me because I couldn't see it. It was major, but with it there was also a sense of deja vu, in so far as that I had been here before.
"My life had always been about finding my feet when I was a fish out of water, with no steps to follow.
"This was no different to being the eldest Arab daughter in an Anglo Saxon community who had to go to school in a small country town, or coming out as a gay woman now, I was the first woman in my family to test for the BRCA 1 gene fault and to make the decision about possible preventative surgery."
Quota International Taree is selling tickets to the event through Movies, Games and More in Victoria Street, Taree. The cost is $20.