I began to live my life after facing death- well that’s how I saw it.

I was 24 when my health started to decline. One ER trip with a doctor informing me that I had a 2×2 mass above the heart but don’t worry- get this checked out in a year. A YEAR!!! No, I started immediately. A year, a gall bladder surgery, and a second opinion later I learn the mass is not above my heart, but in my thymus gland, right between my lungs. The surgeon told me that we had 2 options: wait and see in a year, or take it out. I elected to have the surgery.

4 AM on an April morning I held my babies tight and told them I loved them. Sadly, I even left notes to go to my family in the case that the operation went wrong.

My surgery went well. The preliminary report was benign. 2 weeks later in a CVS parking lot my surgeon calls. “I am so sorry. You’re only the second person I’ve had to do this to. You have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Nodular Sclerossing.”

I cried, called my mom, feeling like I had failed. All of my family diagnosed with cancer have not made it. My grandma, grandpa, cousin and dad- gone. I was 16 when I lost my dad.

A week later, I am back in surgery to get a port to start chemo. One day later I’m having chemo. 3 hours of poison pumped through, leaving me weak, anxiety ridden, and even worse- defeated. The first treatment brought hair loss. More tears fell. I was unable to hold my not even 1 year old baby, or pick up my oldest from the bus stop. I considered myself a lost cause.

By the second treatment my cell counts were extremely low. I needed neupo


gen shots. That was worse than chemo. I scared my oldest because I was already weak, and now I felt like my bones were being ripped out. I reached a point that I told my oncologist to stop. Let me go home, spend time with my kids, and die. Yeah, they don’t let you give up that easy

I saw my baby turn 1 on May 26, 2010. My oldest turned 5 on June 3, 2010. June 18, 2010 I walked into the treatment center, sat down in my chair and plugged in. 3 hours later I’m being wheeled down the hallway to a golden bell. I was helped up and told to ring the bell proudly. So I did. All of the nurses, doctors, and pharmacy techs came out clapping and hollering. All I could say was I did it Daddy. I broke the cancer curse. My life had a bigger purpose.

I’m going to be 6 years in remission in June. My boys are amazing. My husband Gerrit is my rock. I’ll graduate college in the winter with an Associate’s degree in Healthcare. I’m a mentor to other cancer patients, and support Relay for Life. I wouldn’t be here today without the support from my mom, my brother, and my kids. I love you Danny and Marcus!, my friends, and my family.

Now I say- I’ve HAD cancer; it never had me! Keep fighting. The reward is a new outlook on life.

<3, Tamera Wheeler


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