Published Monday, 23rd January 2023
By James Cowen
A cancer survivor who won her fight against a form of the disease so rare only one in two million people get it has finally achieved her dream job of a firefighter
Tara Dymyd always dreamed of being a firefighter and had spent years trying to get onto a recruits course.
But whilst the 36-year-old was progressing through the recruitment process to join Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), she began to feel unwell.
She went to her GP in August 2019 and they decided to do keyhole surgery after identifying what they thought was an ovarian cyst.
During this surgery they uncovered a tumour in her appendix and sinister mucus. The doctors acted quickly, upgrading to open surgery, and removed her appendix in addition to the ovary and cyst. It was later identified that she had a type of cancer called Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP).
Tara began treatment straight away but this put her firefighting dreams on hold – leaving her unsure if she'd ever achieve her dreams.
After a second major abdominal surgery in the space of 5 months and the subsequent onset of menopause due the removal of her ovaries following a brief battle with Covid-19, she was passed fit to apply for her dream job once more.
Tara started her firefighter training at TWFRS's Barmston Mere Training Centre in September and passed out as a firefighter in December.
Tara said "Although I always knew the course would be physically tough, I don't think I realised how emotionally and mentally challenging it would be.
"It was a real shock to the system at first but you settle into it and we become like one big family on the course, helping each other out when we can.
"I'd always worked jobs in the past where I was in control and knew what I was doing so it was strange to be starting over and following strict instructions.
"I always knew I wanted to do something a bit different as a job, I'm glad I kept going with becoming a firefighter because it's a dream come true."
Tara, who lives in Low Fell with her partner Aimée, had been volunteering with TWFRS for years to build the knowledge and experience to become a firefighter.
A freeze on recruitment due to austerity meant she had no opportunity to apply to join the service.
She had been working in Human Resources for a large Telecommunications business before choosing to chase her dream of becoming a firefighter.
Although she enjoyed her job, it wasn't giving her the sense of job satisfaction that she wanted from a role and so she attempted to become a firefighter.
Last month Tara finally passed out as a firefighter after the intensive 14-week course at the TWFRS headquarters site.
She was posted to Gateshead Community Fire Station just three days before Christmas and is delighted to be doing the job she dreamed of.
And today, (Monday) TWFRS most senior female firefighter is praising Tara for being so open with her journey to become a firefighter.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lynsey McVay said "People like Tara are inspirational for a number of reasons, she saw what she wanted and went for it not matter what obstacles where put in her way.
"She has patience and is persistent, all great qualities when it comes to becoming a firefighter – it's about being mentally and emotionally strong just as much as physical strength.
"Many people might give up when the going gets tough but we want our firefighters to see that as an opportunity to improve themselves.
"You've already got what it takes to become a firefighter, you just might not know it yet."
TWFRS are currently recruiting for whole-time firefighters on their website and are encouraging people to apply.
They want applicants from all walks of life and are encouraging anyone with compassion, empathy and adaptability to consider an application.