Eight-year-old Tarin is a singer, dancer and all-around performer. She can recite the lyrics to any Hamilton song, perform on stage alongside high schoolers and belt out the lyrics to any Broadway musical. She’s also a cancer survivor.
When Tarin was five years old, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Despite inpatient hospitalizations, chemotherapy infusions and various procedures, Tarin never lost sight of her love for musical theater, holding onto dreams of one day taking New York City by storm and performing on a Broadway stage. Through her wish, this dream became a reality.
Tarin’s wish combined her love for Disney princesses, music and Broadway. She wished to meet Princess Jasmine from Disney's Aladdin on Broadway, a dream no one was more suited to live out. With a bright smile, positive attitude and so much excitement, Tarin, who had been dressing up as Disney princesses for as long as her parents could remember, travelled to New York City in the middle of her long course treatment.
The day began with a costume change; Tarin suited up in her beautiful Princess Jasmine costume and arrived at the theater with her parents, Melissa and and Chris. She received a personal tour of the theater, including the prop room, where she was able to try on headpieces from the Lion King and the Little Mermaid and hold the magical bag from Mary Poppins.
“She was in musical theater heaven,” says Melissa.
Tarin then got to meet the cast of Aladdin, who sang “A Whole New World” with her and welcomed her to Broadway. During the chorus, Courtney Reed, the actress portraying Princess Jasmine, surprised Tarin and the two finished the song together. All smiles, Tarin learned a dance from the show from Princess Jasmine herself, and even got to perform it on the stage.
That evening, Tarin’s magical experience continued as she saw Aladdin with her family. Even as a member of the audience, Tarin was still the most special guest in the theater; she received a shoutout from the genie at the end of “A Friend Like Me” and a wave from Princess Jasmine during the curtain call. Tarin headed backstage once more at the end of the show, where she met other members of the cast and saw Princess Jasmine again.
Tarin’s wish brought joy to everyone who experienced it. For her parents, this time together meant an escape from hospital visits and an opportunity to see their daughter doing what she loves during an incredibly difficult time. “It meant the world to us and our family to see Tarin so happy,” said Melissa. “She could forget about medicines, treatment, and not feeling well and focus on spending this wonderful time together.”
Over the next year and a half, Melissa said Tarin held onto these wonderful memories as she continued her treatments. “She continued to sing and dance and express love of musical theater,” she said. “The trip was such a wonderful memory that she was able to share with everyone in her life. We could tell that she felt a deep connection to New York and Broadway. That memory of pure happiness and sense of connection really gave her something to look back on as she continued to receive difficult treatments.”
A year and a half out from her last treatment, Tarin is now in remission and continues to use the courage she developed from those difficult years in every area of her life. Tarin has embraced the wonderful things that have come her way since her wish trip: she sings in a girls pop band, takes voice lessons and is even learning the ukulele. After her wish trip, Tarin performed with The Theater Bug Troop in Nashville while she was still in treatment, but Melissa says she “powered through with grace and style.” It’s certainly not hard to believe.
Since her musical debut, Tarin has performed in three stage productions. One of these shows, called “Barefoot Children in the City of Ward,” explored the imaginations of children going through inpatient cancer treatment. The director incorporated elements of Tarin’s own story into the script, and the performance coincided with the three year anniversary of her diagnosis, a milestone that filled Tarin’s parents with gratitude for their daughter’s health and the light she shares everywhere she goes.
As Melissa put it, “The same uplifting spirit that lit up Vanderbilt’s clinic when she went in for treatments shown through from the stage.”