Hello, I'm...

Tammy Ratliff


Introduce yourself—name, age, and occupation.

My name is Tammy Ratliff. I’m 50 years old. I worked in the staffing industry for nearly 20 years, and retired last year. I live in Dixon, Tennessee, about 40 miles west of Nashville.

What drove you to enter the #HelloImFabulous Contest?

I’ve always loved Chico’s style, so when I saw the “Hello, I’m Fabulous” contest, I wanted to be a part of it. When I wear Chico’s clothing, I feel fabulous. Coming from where I’ve come from, and overcoming some of the obstacles I’ve overcome, feeling fabulous is a really great thing.

What are the obstacles you’ve overcome?

In 2006, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, and underwent surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. In 2014, it came back in my liver, so I started chemotherapy again. During all the treatments, you have a lot of side effects that affect your appearance. It starts to play on your self-esteem a little bit. One of the biggest things I did to get through the treatments, and to make me feel more like me again, was to take notice of my appearance. I’ve always been a high-maintenance person. I decided during my treatment that I wasn’t going to start wearing sweats and stop wearing makeup. That wasn’t me before cancer, and it sure wasn’t going to be me going through treatment, no matter how badly I felt. Wearing colorful clothes, doing my makeup, and drawing in my eyebrows after I lost my hair made me happy, made me smile, and gave me joy.

How did feeling like you look great help you feel better?

Nobody wants to look sick. I think making the effort helped, because people only saw the positive in me which in turn, made me more positive. They see the beauty. It’s like when you leave the hairdresser; you’re a foot taller, and you’re smiling. It gives you confidence. When you go through some of these cancer treatments, you gain weight, your body changes. One of the side effects of cancer treatment is lymphedema (swelling) in the arm. When you’re wearing something that draws attention to the negative things, it zaps your confidence. When you can put something on that camouflages some of those things, and makes you feel normal, you just feel beautiful. I also take care of my skin. I get up and I use good products. I don’t wear the same outfit twice—I change things up and wear them differently. Even in my home, I change décor in towels, and colors, and bedspreads all the time (to my husband’s disappointment.)

How would you describe your style?

I’m pretty classic. I used to like a lot of things very tailored. As I’ve gotten older, I’m trying new shapes and having more fun. I don’t care as much about what other people think. My father’s 71, and my brother is 45. All of us dress in a little different style, not khakis and buttoned down shirts. I think we’ve all learned to like that. That makes us different. That makes us stand out, but we stand out in a positive way.

What are you loving right now in your life?

My freedom. I quit working last year as a result of the cancer coming back. Now I have time to go have lunch with girlfriends, or go make a casserole, or go shopping. I used to work all the time. I just got back from a two week vacation where I had time to spend with my 71-year-old father and my husband. We’ve never, the three of us, been able to have a vacation together before. It was great.

How do you manage to be so positive?

Cancer may take some of my years, but I’m doggone if I’m going to let it take my days.

I think you have to be, because everybody has days they want to hide under the covers in the bed, and just pray for it all to go away, but it doesn’t happen. I’ve always followed the philosophy that you have to play the cards that you were dealt. You can’t change every circumstance, but you can change how you react to it. I’m pretty stubborn. Cancer is a thing I have, but it’s not who I am. I want to be able to do everything I can, so that I feel good. I don’t want to be limited by having cancer.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

Having confidence gives you freedom. If you gain confidence through your appearance, then by all means take that extra time, spend that extra dollar. You are so worth it. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone who is so afraid to express themselves, especially in clothing, when you see those folks, you know there’s a little glimmer of light in them. They want some bling somewhere, but they’re afraid to do it for fear of what other people think. Maybe it’s not the way they were raised or their friends don’t dress that way. Tell them to take the chance. What do you have to lose?

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77 Responses

  1. Angela Grafe

    Thanks so much for this very positive article- gave me a smile already this morning. I am Angela from Germany and i also had cancer twice( skin and breast) . It is so important to think positive and to get well dressed – even can only shop with chico’s while travelling to States – i love clothes and of course nice ladies in chico’s shops!!

    1. ana m toledo

      I really enjoy reading your story You are very positive and I think this is the No 1 medicine in dealing with cancer. I am a cancer survivor and I really understand you. Keep it up.

      Amen

      1. Tammy Ratliff

        Ana, Congratulations on being a Survivor too! It is so nice to hear from people that truely “get it” and know the thoughts we have. Your encouragement is a blessing. Keep being FABULOUS!

        1. Jaci Dorr

          I have the great fortune of working at Chicos, but I lost my beautiful sister to cancer last October 28, 2016. My mom, Jody and I shopped at the Cherry Vale store every Saturday morning and were treated like queens. I miss that so much, but I’m so happy to hear about your survival! God Bless you!

      1. Tammy Ratliff

        Sue, thank you so much for reading my story. I love Chanel too! I think Cocoa Chanel is my spirit animal!. I am flattered by the encouragement. Blessings to you too. Keep being FABULOUS!

    2. Pamala Ratlif

      Angela Grafe, Congratulations on fighting your own battle with Cancer. Sounds like you and I both agree in the power of positive thinking. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and share your thoughts. Hope you get to do some “Retail Therapy” at your favorite Chicos store soon.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Polly, thank you for reading my story. I admire people like your sister and send prayers and good vibes her way. Everyone has to find a way to get through this and I am just happy to get to share with others.

  2. Tiffany

    Tammy is such an amazing person. She is willing to share her style tips and helps others express themselves by having fun with clothes. She has a gift for building up others, and she shares from her heart. I am so glad she was selected by Chico’s. Tammy is fabulous, and she helps others feel that way too.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Tiffany you are too sweet! Fashion is my passion but helping others find their “sparkle” is what makes me smile. I am in awe of the kindness you and many others have shown me. Get out those stylish socks of yours girl! Express Yourself! Big Hugs

  3. I loved reading about you! What a wonderful additude you have. You are a beautiful person inside and out!! Stay positive you are a great inspiration to others!!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Tammy, Thank you so much for taking the time to ready my story and share your comments. I am so happy to share with others. Your complements and encouragement help me to keep fighting. Stay FABULOUS!

  4. Cindi June Berry

    Hi Tammy! You go girl! Had my share of cancer surgeries myself. Had lots of parts removed and 1/3 of colon out. A bit more difficult to go out for too long, but, like YOU, IT WON’T TAKE MY SPIRIT AND HAPPINESS! All the best to you! You are so ADORABLE!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Cindi, Oh Thank you for the encouragement! And Congratulations on being a Survivor! I am so proud to see we share the same mindset. Your spirit and happiness are truely what make you beautiful inside and out. Blessings to you and keep on being FABULOUS!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Maggie, I am so flattered that you took the time to read my story. Your encouragement and kindness fills my heart and soul. Keep on being FABULOUS!

  5. Joan miller

    I survived Breast Cancer 25+ years ago. I had the best reconstruction available at the time. My picture…(without my head) appeared in Medical Journals. That reconstruction…made wearing clothes a pleasure..life was normal and the attention I received motivated me to dress better. Chicos is one of the last places on earth..where I can try on clothes and somebody will give me honest suggestions about what looks good.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Congratulations Joan! How brave to have gone through such an extensive surgery then or now! You helped so many others! I am honored that you read my story and shared yours. You are so right on the mark with the fashion advice the stylists at Chicos give. I never feel pressured to buy something and feel when I ask, “Does this make my but look big?” I will get an honest answer…LOL. Blessings to you, keep on being FABULOUS!

  6. Cindy Goeden

    Thank you for sharing part of your triumph with us, Tammy! Your positive attitude has no doubt been a driving factor in your recovery! I am so glad Chicos chose you to be a voice for overcoming trials in life. God bless and continue to heal you and give you joy each day! Big hug!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Cindy, I am truly honored to get to share my story with you. I have always believed in positive thinking. I know what negative thinking or stinking thinking brings so the positive thinking has to be better then that. Everyone has something they are battling, we just can’t always see it. By lending a smile or positive thought, we can help make their load a little easier. I will take all those hugs and blessings and keep them close to my heart. Thank you. Keep on being FABULOUS!

  7. Karen Michel

    Hi Tammy: Just read your story. You are an inspiration to all of us. I thankfully don’t have cancer but have friends who have and they do share your inner glow personality. I have a friend who has had stage 4 colon cancer that did spread. She has been on and off chemo for years. It was discovered in 2000. They live in Florida and are having a fantastic retirement. My sister had a mastectomy in 1969, She too is retired and enjoying life in New York City. Living in Manhattan was one of her childhood dreams and she’s living it, my sister is 84. You have a grand attitude. Here’s a toast to you! May you live a happy and very long life!!! Karen Michel

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Oh Karen, I just love hearing stories of other survivors especially those in their 80’s. I want to be them! I hope we all get to live out our childhood dreams. And your toast to me brought tears to my eyes! Beauty begins on the inside and we are all beautiful. Thank you for sharing my story and those of those of your family and friends touched by Cancer. Keep on being FABULOUS!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Brenda, I feel blessed to share my story with you and I so appreciate those prayers! You know their is power in numbers so the more the merrier! Share your light too! Keep on being FABULOUS!

    2. Tammy Ratliff

      Robin, I am so happy my story gave you a reminder to get out of that “Stinking Thinking” It is amazing how just a few little things we do for ourselves can affect our mood. I have that jewelry addiction too, sparkley things intrigue me, thrilled you like them. I like to think that maybe our sparkle shines a little more on the outside when we feel good on the inside. Taking back control shows you have strength. Get your shine on! Thank you for sharing your story with me, you fill my heart and that gives me more energy. Have chemo tomorrow, will be taking that extra energy with me. You are FABULOUS!

  8. Tammy
    Thank you for sharing your journey. Your an absolutely beautiful woman and an inspiration to all! I love your style and glad your able to express it through Chicos. May God continue to Bless you and may you continue to Bless others.
    Judy

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Judy, I am blessed to get to share my story and in awe that I am inspiring others. Thank you for your sweet comments. If just one person gets that little spark going, then I will have accomplished something. Express yourself and let your light shine too! Be FABULOUS!

  9. Robin Duncombe

    Reading your remarks reminded me very gently that of late I have let some very sad situations influence how I treat and care for myself. My motto used to be “Look good, feel good”, I have a closet full of lovely Chico’s clothing that feel great and look great, but I wasn’t finishing the rest of the daily routine any more. No makeup, a ponytail rather than truly doing my hair, and no jewelry to put the finishing touches on…and as a collector with thousands of pieces of antique and vintage jewelry, it is close to being a sin to not put on a single piece for days and days.
    I have let situational depression win! And I have forgotten how simple, quick, and easy it is to take back control and do something constructive to help win the battle against depression.
    Thank you for the reminders, and I truly admire your energy, spirit, and bravery.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Robin, I am so happy my story gave you a reminder to get out of that “Stinking Thinking” It is amazing how just a few little things we do for ourselves can affect our mood. I have that jewelry addiction too, sparkley things intrigue me, thrilled you like them. I like to think that maybe our sparkle shines a little more on the outside when we feel good on the inside. Taking back control shows you have strength. Get your shine on! Thank you for sharing your story with me, you fill my heart and that gives me more energy. Have chemo tomorrow, will be taking that extra energy with me. You are FABULOUS!

  10. Marylouise McCue

    Thank you for that very uplifting message. I guess you too believe “It is what it is. We can’t change it, so we deal with it”. The WAY we deal with it is up to us. Your spirit is to be admired!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Marylouise, I love the way you think! You truly understand your attitude controls your altitude! Thank you for sharing my story. Takes one to know one, you are definitely FABULOUS!

  11. Glenda Sousa

    Thank you for the inspiring message, as we age sometime we forget that we still look great! That’s the same as with attitude we all need to be a success and defeat any illness!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Glenda, we know age is just a number….kind of like a size in a label of clothing. Sounds like you and I agree, aging is a right, we celebrate each year and are proud to get there. Our attitude controls our altitude! Thank you for sharing my story. Keep being FABULOUS!

  12. Carmen

    Hi Tammy ! I love that you own who you
    are ! no matter what life brings to you ! I espically love that you can admit your high maintenance & also you must drive your husband crazy with all the decorating changes ! I thought I was the only one ha ha! ? May you live everyday as positive & beautiful as you are.
    Carmen

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Carmen, I giggled when I read your message and yes I do absolutely drive my husband nuts with my decorating and wardrobe changes! You know how much closet space it takes to be fabulous?? LOL! Sounds like we might have been switched at birth. Keep being FABULOUS sister!!!

  13. Susan

    I loved reading your story. I, too, had breast cancer and a bilateral mastectomy. The cancer meds I’m on have made me gain weight and I have been so self-conscious and sometimes depressed about it all. I decided, like you, to take the time to dress up, put on that makeup, wear jewelry and do my hair up. Thank God for Chico’s so slimming line…they hide the weight gain in my hips and stomach. I’ve always had a positive attitude but now I feel my outward appearance reflects that. You are a true inspiration! I’m saving your story to read when I need a lift! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Susan. Congratulations on being a survivor! And girl do I know about the weight gain problems. Here I was thinking chemo would help me drop a few pounds…NOT! People assume with cancer you lose weight but with breast cancer, as you know, it is a whole different ball game. I gained and lost 100 pounds the first time I had breast cancer, and in between had to purchase multiple wardrobes. I love that I didn’t have to sacrifice style. I really loved the fact that no matter what size I was, I could find something stylish at Chicos. I discovered a whole new side of Chicos…..accessories! A little bling on the ears and the neck brings the attention to your face and off any problem areas. Believe me when I was bald, I could still be glamorous with a few quick additions and a great hat. Of course, I still had to draw in my eyebrows but hey, that was manageable. I hope that you continue to let your inner light and sparkle shine on the outside. You are beautiful and you are FABULOUS!

  14. Jeanne

    Thanks for sharing your story. I loss my sister to cancer almost two years ago. I also lost 4 others close friends and family within a 2 year period. I know what it’s like to stand tall and take a positive attitude. Not easy but life does go on.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Jeanne, I am honored to share my story. I have a friend who came up with a great saying…”Cancer Sucks” there are no better words I can come up with for it. I am sorry you lost your sister and others close to you. It is much more difficult to stand tall alone, so I hope that you have found some groups for support and have friends that lift you up. Being selected by Chicos to share my story has given me a voice. You are FABULOUS because you have taken that positive stance too.

  15. Patty Spencer

    Great story Tammy – you are a winner and
    fabulous in my book! Keep up the positive
    attitude and keep spreading it around.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Patty, Thank you for reading my story. Chicos has given a voice to my thoughts and allowed me to share. I’ll keep spreading my light if you keep spreading yours too. Keep being FABULOUS!

  16. Billy Woodall

    Keep your wonderful attitude towards the disease. All of us out here will keep praying for you daily. You can realize how much God loves you when He answers prayers. Always give Him the praise.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Billy, God has got this I know! Maybe using my story, my voice, will help others remember to let their light shine.too. l Thank you for sharing my story and for the prayers, I know they are heard and I will keep them close to my heart as I go to chemo tomorrow, Blessings to you.

  17. Sue

    Thank you Tammy for sharing your story. I was having a “poor me ” day which doesn’t happen very often, but I just had foot surgery and lots of pain today. Nothing compared to what you have been through. Thank you so much for being here this morning I too love Chicos clothes and worked for them for a few years part time. Learned so much about clothes, makeup etc.
    Thought and prayers are with you.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Sue, wishing you a speedy recovery and painfree days. Chicos has given a voice to my story and I am truly honored. We can all have bad days….not just all of us on the same day….Lol. Keep being FABULOUS!

  18. Hi Tammy, just read your story and it was exactly what I needed. Your attitude is amazing. I lost my husband to cancer 4 yrs ago and still can’t seem to move ahead. I spend many lonely days by myself. I’m not a young chick anymore but Chicos and Chanel are my staples. Love the gals that work in my store. You are an inspiration to get out and go even if it is by myself. Bless you.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Hi Barb, I am so sorry for your loss. Young chicks come in all ages, if you know what I mean. Our age does not define us just as any disease or illness. I am sorry for your loss. It is easy to forget how to live again when someone dies. I lost my mom suddenly in December and still getting over that. I just have to think of what she would expect me to do, and staying home by myself is not one of those things. If I were out shopping and asked her which item to buy, she would always tell me to get both! In honor of your love for your husband, I so hope you get out again. And if you dont have a good support group, try to see if there is a Gilda’s club in your area. A non profit group started by Gilda Radner for all those dealing with cancer including survivors, care givers and patients.

  19. Mitzi Mcewen

    Life is what you make it and Tammy is our hero as she srands taller, bolder and unwavering . Chicos is our way of showing our beauty and we all love Chicos for that. To all ladies out there, best wishes for a healthy , strong life!!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Mitzi, Thank you for sharing my story. You are absolutely right, life is what you make of it. I hope all women let their light shine on the outside that shines on the inside. You are FABULOUS!

  20. Marjorie Meeks

    I have been fighting cancer for 2 years and sometimes when I want that new Chico’s outfit I wonder if it is worth it as I might not wear it very long if I lose this battle. Your words remind me part of continuing to live is to look your best and to have a good attitude like you.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Marjorie, I applaud you in your fight against cancer. You are so worth it! It is easy to forget to live when dealing with cancer. Trust in your medical team, be empowered. You can “fire” a doctor or nurse that is not looking out for your best interest or treating you with the respect you deserve…think of all those vampire techs that draw blood, if they are not confident in their abilities, get someone else. Being true to yourself and doing what makes you happy is crucial. If we check out early, wouldn’t it be sad to have beautiful things hanging in the closet with the tags on them? I am sending you a big hug. Thank you for sharing your story with me. BE FABULOUS!

  21. Pat Frick

    What an inspirational story and thank you for sharing your positive life outlook with all of us. I’m a two time cancer survivor having faced thyroid cancer in 2001 and stage 4 parotid gland cancer 20 months ago. After my retirement from teaching I joined the Chico’s team in Fairview Hts., IL 9 years ago. I think my love of beautiful clothes & loving my Chico’s work team helped with my recovery! Wearing your favorite Chico’s clothes gets you through the toughest times! Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Pat, I would say your love for friends and beautiful things are among the best ways to get through tough times. Congratulations on your survivorship. You help show others you can still live after a Cancer diagnosis. I love hearing from other survivors. Each day is a battle whether in our bodies or our minds. Choosing to keep living, to keep moving and to keep loving is a lot harder then throwing our hands in the air and giving up. You inspire me. I know you are already FABULOUS! Prayers and a hug coming your way.

  22. Faith

    Tammy, thanks for being fabulous and sharing your story with us! Just found out that my 80-year young friend who’s a 2nd mother to me has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Starting chemo today. I’ve been helping her shop for clothing and accessories for her “tweeting Grama” style the last 3 years. Will definitely encourage her to wear her sparkle, baubles and new lipstick on this journey! Your words inspire me to keep a positive, can-do outlook. Bless you on your journey.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Faith, I am honored to share my story with you. It sounds like you and tweeting Grama are FABULOUS yourselves. There is so much to enjoy in life, much more then just negative or positive things, or black and white. There is a whole lot of grey to explore. I want to be that that 80 year young friend decked out in baubles. Lipstick makes everything better! What a wonderful friend you must be to help Grama. You both are FABULOUS in my book! Prayers and blessings to you both.

  23. Leslie

    Tammy, you truly are fabulous. Very very inspiring story. Good for you! Live every day and live it fabulously in Chico’s and great hair and makeup! You feel like a million and look it too. And, never leave the house without lipstick! That’s my motto. Congratulations and best of luck.

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Leslie, I live in the South and lipstick makes everything look better 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed my story and I take your advice with me. Your kind words make me stronger then you know. All the best to you!

  24. Wanda Huneycutt

    Hello Tammy~You are beautiful and totally fabulous! You have overcome some steep obstacles with grace. Bless you in the days to come. Have a fabulous life!!

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Wanda, thank you for the encouragement. We all have some type of obstacle in our lives. Some are just a little tougher to get through then others. Sharing my story and seeing others take the time to read it gives me so much support and strength. Thanks again, keep being FABULOUS!

  25. MaryAnn

    OMG,Tammy you are the best inspiration ever,I am a two time Cancer Survivor breast and skin and totally addicted to CHICOS. It is always so uplifting to me to shop at Chicos and you are so right about the weight gain I think I have been through about 4 sizes each time I have to switch I donate the clothes to one of the battered women’s centers.
    I will be praying for a perfect healing and a very speedy recovery for you. God is so wonderful and certainly hears our prayers and never fails to fulfill our needs? You are definitely an inspiration to soooo many. Love and strength to You and Your family. You will always be FAB and SPARKLY??

    1. Tammy Ratliff

      Oh Maryann, you just made my day. Congratulations to you on your survivorship! Our addiction to being the best we can be is a great thing. Sometimes, the icing is the best part on top of the cake. So that little bit of sparkle or confidence we gain when Chicos frosts us up allows our inner light to shine. I hope we both encourage others to let their sparkle out too. Thank you for the prayers, I know GOD hears them because I sure feel them. Keep being FABULOUS!

  26. BamaCarol

    Tammy, congratulations on being chosen by Chicos and thank you for telling us your story. I have had some medical obstacles as well and feeling good in my clothes has helped a great deal. Prayers for you and your family on your journey in life. May God be with you.

  27. Sherry Lawler

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading reading your story. Having known you before, during, and after I can honestly say that you have been beautiful and wonderful every step of the way. You shine!

  28. Jacquie Fraser

    I think your confidence and courage to take the bull by the horns and live life on your terms is absolutely wonderful..cancer affects not only the individual impacted by it but it also turns your circle of family and friends upside down. You’ve turned a negative into a positive and those around you can’t help but be supportive.

  29. Lori Lacerenza

    Thank you for telling your story of courage and strength. Two years ago, at 59 years old, I had open heart surgery and thought I had fought my ultimate battle, however, I was wrong. Two months ago, at age 61, I was told I have leukemia. Today I was feeling alittle depressed and I read your blog and now I feel a lot better! Thank you!!
    PS – I agree about looking your best makes you feel better – everyday I get up, get dressed, put on my makeup and face the world!!!

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