An Angel Here on Earth

By Tina Cameron

I have a friend that is truly an angel among us. Tisha is kind, sweet, caring, funny, and 20200201_081241has a big heart for people and dogs. Recently, God has had her in the right place at the right time on two separate occasions. The first occasion was as Tisha was out driving, she came across two dogs that were in the roadway in danger of being hit by passing cars. She stopped her car and rescued the dogs just as the owner was pulling up. The second incident was the next day as Tisha was driving to the hospital where we work as oncology nurses. As she was driving in the dark hours of the morning, she noticed a man riding his bicycle near her. In an instant, another driver hit this gentleman and took off without stopping to render air or return to the scene. Thank goodness Tisha was paying close attention and able to call 911 before stopping to help the injured man. He sustained a shoulder injury but will be okay.

IMG_0430Let me tell you a little about Tisha. She is 48 years old. She has been married for 27 years to Jamie, and they are blessed with two sons, Gavin and Grayson, and their two “children-in-love,” Matthew and Sarah-Grace. Tisha is also Mom to three fur babies-Bella, Brody, and Bailey.

Tisha has been a nurse for 9 years. She became a nurse because she has always enjoyed helping people and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. When I asked Tisha what nursing meant to her she said, “For me, nursing has been interesting, challenging, and rewarding. Becoming an RN was a dream come true for me. I really believe that nursing is more than a career; it’s a calling and truly a way of life.” During her free time, Tisha’s favorite things to do are spending time with her family and her dogs, decorating her home, and taking naps and beach trips.

I have worked with Tisha for the past 5 ½ years. I am so happy to call her a friend and feel blessed that she is in my life. Tisha is an asset to our oncology unit, as well as our patients. She truly is an angel here on earth, and the world is a better place because she is in it.IMG_3308 (002)

Meet Stella-Bella

By Tina Cameron

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A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a cute little white dog named Stella on a rescue site. I have been wanting another dog. I thought having another little dog would help my Yorkie (Peyton) with her grieving over the loss of my sweet Haley who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last June. I had previously seen this dog, but never inquired about her. When I stumbled across her again, I felt like it was a sign. Stella is a Maltese-Yorkie mix, is 8 ½ years old, timid, and so wants to trust people. She is just the sweetest dog ever.

I sent in an application and days later had a phone interview. A few days after my phone interview, the foster mom called me and we spoke about 90 minutes on the phone about Stella, my home life, my pets, etc. It was so sad to hear that she had been neglected, abused, adopted and returned. I agreed to foster her as a trial basis for 10 days and would pick her up on January 7th. She immediately jumped in my SUV, laid down on the blanket I had put in the backseat and went to sleep. After meeting my two other dogs, they all went out in the backyard to potty. She seemed comfortable right away in my backyard and so far, was getting along with my other two dogs.

20200107_133255Once Stella came in, I went to eat lunch in the den. She came right in the den and got up in the same spot where Peyton sleeps. She proceeded to take a nap and I snapped a picture. Due to the neglect and abuse Stella endured, as well as some health problems, she is hesitant to trust a human. It is still a work in progress; however, she is making great strides in doing new things each day. I ended up adopting Stella on day five of fostering her, because I was already in love. Later that night, I snapped a few pictures of her “gotcha day” sign to post on Facebook and she leaned over and licked my cheek! Oh, those sweet puppy kisses. She is slowly coming to me when I call her and did well at her first follow up vet appointment. I am so happy that I chose to adopt her. Let the spoiling begin.

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Year in Review

By Tina Cameron

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Hunter & I on his 25th Birthday

I have been reflecting a lot on my life and my family this past year. My younger son turned 25 on November 30th — how is that even possible? His brother will be 29 in March. I can still remember being pregnant, them coming home from the hospital, their first days of kindergarten, high school graduation, college graduation. I am 51 and don’t feel like my sweet boys should be grown men already. It recently occurred to me that more than half of my life is over which is terrifying and sad especially because I have not accomplished half of the things I want to.

 

It reminds me of that amazing song by Kenny Chesney “Don’t Blink.” I made videos for both boys at their high school graduation parties of their first 18 years with that song playing as the background music. The song talks about how fast life moves on, “don’t blink.”

My heart and mind feel like I am still in my 30s, however, my body is another story. I feel more like I am in my late 60s to early 70s. I need to work on getting in shape and losing weight—again! I am not making excuses, but I have no energy on my days off between work and graduate school to want to do anything besides veg out on the couch and watch TV or nap. My sleep schedule is always out of sorts. Lately, I wake up at 2:30 A.M., even when going to bed at 11:30 P.M. I am worn out.

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Oreo

This year I lost my beloved bunny, Oreo. It was heartbreaking, and I miss him so much, but he is in Heaven with Haley. Throughout the year, I have also lost animals that I took care of as a volunteer at the zoo. It is just heartbreaking for me to lose any animal that I fall in love with.

 

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Corey & I tailgating Alabama vs. USC

Overall, 2019 has been a good year for me. I graduated with my BSN, I started graduate school, and I am doing more volunteer work in the community. However, having my boys living two hours away in Charleston with their own lives is becoming harder on my heart than I thought it would. This was the first year that Corey did not come home for Thanksgiving as well as the first year I did not see Hunter on his birthday. It absolutely broke my heart. I know I need to understand that they are grown, and this was eventually going to happen, but it still hurts.

As we approach the Christmas holidays, I want to encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on this past year and make hopes and goals for the next. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

 

What I Am Most Thankful For

by Tina Michelle Cameron

Screenshot_20191101-034744_DriveAs the holidays approach I thought I would write about what I am thankful for. First and foremost, I am most thankful for my two children that God has blessed me with. They are the best two things in my life. It was never easy being a divorced mom raising two small children on my own, but I did it. At times, I had to work four jobs at once to support us – I wouldn’t change that for anything. I was always homeroom mom, soccer mom, assistant coach for my younger son’s soccer team, served on the PTA committee, volunteered during testing at their schools, and never missed an orchestra concert, track meet, or football game. Unless I worked the nightshift, I was there to tuck them in bed each night, make dinner, play games, or just snuggle and watch a movie.

I put both through my sons through college – my older son Corey is now a Mechanical Engineer at Mercedes-Benz in Charleston and my younger son is in graduate school at The Citadel and will become a teacher when he graduates next December. I am one proud mommy, and I did it all on my own. I love my boys to the moon and back.

I am thankful for the love and support of my parents. They have always been there for my boys and me through everything, and I love them so very much. I am also thankful for my brother and his family.

Next, I am thankful that I became a nurse and chose to go into the field of oncology. I have been an oncology nurse for twenty-five-and-a-half years, and it was the best decision I have made. I love my patients, and I work for the best nurse manager with a great unit at Lexington Medical Center in the oncology unit. I am blessed to love what I do and thankful for my job every day.

20191006_093104I am thankful that I was hired as a volunteer at Riverbanks Zoo and that I have a work schedule that allows me to do other volunteer work in our community, feeding the homeless at the Transitions Homeless Shelter.

I am thankful for my close friends.

I am thankful for my health, despite a few minor health issues, but overall, I know that it could be worse.

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I am thankful for my beautiful home and thankful that I can afford to put food on the table and have a car to drive.

And lastly, I am thankful for my two fur-babies and my turtle that I get to call my children. They bring me such joy.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season. Don’t forget to take some time to be thankful.

Suicide Prevention Awareness

by Tina Cameron

While September is National Suicide Prevention Month, awareness can be spread year-round. I am writing this with a heavy heart tonight about someone I never met, someone who appeared on their social media pages to be sweet, caring, kind, smart, funny, and very much loved. While I have never met this person, I am filled with sadness as a mother and as a person who has grieved a friend who died by suicide, my high school friend Debbie.

According to National Today (2019), “an average of 123 suicides” occur each day in the United States. It is “the tenth leading cause of death in America – second leading for ages 25-34, and third-leading for ages 15-24.” I was completely unaware of these statistics prior to my research. Awareness must be spread every single day, not just one month of the year that it is advertised. Reading these statistics is disheartening. According to the Center for Disease Control, researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide during the study period did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other issues, including relationship problems, substance abuse, physical health problems, job or money-related stress, legal or housing problems often contributed to the risk of suicide.suicide-awareness-ribbon-2

As awareness about suicide is spreading, television shows and commercials are now showing phone number hotlines for people to call if they are having thoughts of suicide. I am a nurse at a hospital, and we now ask patients if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts when they are admitted. Despite this increased attention and awareness, people are still committing suicide because they may not have access to the help they need or even realize they need it. I cannot imagine the unbearable pain they feel.

My heart is breaking tonight and every day for anyone hurting in this way. Please reach out for help. Call a friend, your family, a crisis center. Breakups, financial problems, marital problems, and bad grades are not worth ending your life over. I have listed the phone number to call and website if you are thinking about harming yourself.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255

suicidepreventionlifeline.org

My New Family Member

by Tina Cameron         

20190928_110613 On September 19th, 2019 I went into our local pet store to buy some things for my new turtle tank. I happened to notice that they sell Red-Eared Sliders which is the type of turtle I have. Incubus is fourteen and a half years old. I saw the cute, little babies and one that was a little bigger. I just thought, no one wanted to buy him. Fast forward a week, and he was still there when I went back.

I spoke with the manager about him, and he had been surrendered by the “owner.” I use that term loosely, as the lady that brought him in told the manager that if they wouldn’t take him, she was going to “put him down.” I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My heart broke, and I knew I had to have him. Unfortunately, I had somewhere to be and told them I would be back to get him.

On Saturday, September 28th I stayed up after working all night waiting on the store to open and prayed that he was still there. The employees knew that I was coming and seemed happy that someone was saving this poor little guy. See, he was neglected and apparently mistreated. He was not properly cared for because his shell is bubbled in places and misshapen. He is very nervous and appears to not trust humans. He tends to hiss if you go to touch him. It is so very sad that this poor innocent turtle was mistreated. So, once I signed the adoption papers, he was placed in a transport box. I about cried in the store because I was just so relieved to know that he was going to a loving home. The salesperson said the vet thinks he is about eighteen months old and was told the “owner” never named him. He did check out healthy except for his shell. His first outing was to The Dollar Tree and then to Wal-Mart.

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Introducing him to Incubus was interesting. Incubus couldn’t him figure out—he does seem a little bit jealous and well, the new baby is still adjusting. I was told it would take him a few days. Incubus let him know that he was boss (he stepped on our new addition while swimming by). They are now swimming in the tank in sync with each other, and he is warming up to me. He now swims to me when I stand at the tank, and he has not hissed again. After deliberating for days, I have decided that his name will be Crimson Tide and will call him Crimson for short. He is a Red-Eared Slider, so that is why I chose Crimson. After all, I love turtles, and everyone knows I love the Crimson Tide.

 

A Sweet Boy Named Wyatt

By Tina Michelle Cameron

wyatt outdoor pictureThis will probably be the hardest blog I have written to date. It is part two of a blog from earlier this month which was about September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. You see, I want to tell you about a sweet boy named Wyatt. It is easy to talk about Wyatt; it brings a smile to my face and warms my heart to think about him, but with the smiles, also comes tears. Wyatt Edward Brown was born on October 28th, 2014 to the most amazing parents I have ever met – Ashley and Eric Brown. If you follow my blog or are friends with me on Facebook, then you know that I am a nurse at Lexington Medical Center on the oncology unit. This is where I met Wyatt’s mom, Ashley, as she is also an oncology nurse. Ashley and I became friends while working together which is how I got to know this beautiful little boy.

Sweet Wyatt, as I always affectionately called him, was kind, sweet, funny, smart, and so loveable and loved. He loved superheroes (the Hulk was his favorite), cheering on the Clemson Tigers, playing with his action figures, watching his favorite video, The Hulk vs. Batman, and spending time with his amazing family. He was smart having already learned to read and work an iPad like a grownup at age two.

wyatt and mimi adn gigiWyatt was the strongest and toughest little boy that I had the pleasure of getting to know and love. He would light up a room with his smile and gave the sweetest hugs and kisses. Some of my favorite memories of Wyatt were playing with his toys or just watching cartoons. Another favorite is when they would FaceTime me from Texas or call me during a football game to just say “Go Tigers!” (To mess with me because I am a diehard Crimson Tide fan).

Wyatt was diagnosed at three-months-old with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. He had surgery followed by 399 days of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He went into remission, but then, unfortunately, relapsed – which led to more treatment, radiation, and an extensive surgery at M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas. Eric and Ashley had to relocate there for three months for his surgery and treatment. This is where they met the incredible Melissa Bellinger who started the A Shelter for Cancer Families organization that provides housing and support to families affected by cancer in the Texas area.

bracelet team wyattAshley and Eric created a Facebook page (TeamWyatt) to keep family and friends updated on Wyatt’s condition. His page has 5,477 followers from all across the world. It is filled with messages of love, support, and prayers showing beautiful pictures of sweet Wyatt and his family. T-shirts, decals, and matching bracelets with the words “No One Fights Alone” were made to show support for Wyatt and his fight. Unfortunately, he passed away on April 28th, 2017.

Just a week after Wyatt passed, and despite their unimaginable loss, his parents held an event to honor Wyatt and raise money for A Shelter for Cancer Families. I was honored to volunteer with the organization and Wyatt’s family, and we raised $10,000 in one evening.

This amazing little boy endured surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments like a champ. He never complained. Wyatt will never be forgotten and will forever be loved by his beautiful family. Despite his life being so tragically cut short at two and a half years old, his parents and family gave him a lifetime of love and adventures in that short time. I know that he is watching over them and his new little sister Emma Ray Hope from Heaven and will forever be their guardian angel.

family picI will always love Ashley and Eric for allowing me to become an honorary member of their family and the time I spent with sweet Wyatt. Ashley, I love you like a sister, a close friend, and the daughter that I never had. Thank you both for sharing your most precious Wyatt with me and the world. To Wyatt, we will continue to fight for more funding and for a cure. You will always be my superhero.  I will always love you and hold you in my heart forever.

#teamwyattforever #noonefightsalone #superhero #hulk #sweetwyatt #ashelterforcancerfamilies