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

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

by Tina Michelle Cameron

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Gold is the color representing childhood cancer. How I wish that neither of these would exist. Cancer shouldn’t exist—for anyone – adults or children. This statement is coming from a woman who worked for 25 years as an adult oncology nurse. I would love to have to find a different field of nursing to work in – this would mean, cancer doesn’t exist. But, unfortunately, this is not the case.

Image 2Many people think childhood cancer is rare. But, each day in the United States, 43 families will hear the words parents should never hear: “your child has cancer.” It is the number one disease killer of children in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death (after accidents) in children ages 5-14. This means that every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. This is an average of 300,000 kids worldwide being diagnosed each year—does this sound rare to you? This is unacceptable. Something must change. We need to demand more for these precious, innocent children.

I have listed the seven most common types of pediatric cancers. Leukemia is the number one cancer in children followed by Rhabdomyosarcoma, Wilms’ Tumor, Neuroblastoma, Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma, and Brain/Spinal Cord Tumors.

According to the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2)* in 2014, of the $4.9 billion budget of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), only four percent went to research for childhood cancers. So, exactly how much is 4%– 4% of a dozen donuts is half a donut; 4% of an 8-hour night of sleep is 19.2 minutes and 4% of a $50,000 salary is $2,000.

Image 3Are you shocked? Has your mouth fallen open yet after reading that? Mine too. Were you also aware that since 1980, there have only been 3 new drugs approved for pediatric cancer treatment? In addition, only 4 new drugs approved for both pediatric and adult cancer treatment. These children are receiving adult-strength dosages to treat their cancers. The NCI needs to put childhood cancers as a higher priority as well as pharmaceutical companies. Many adult cancers receive private funding, this is not the case for pediatric cancers.

Parents are terrified of losing their child to this horrible disease, but must also still deal with life—work, other children at home, financial worries, as well as watching their child be sick with nausea/vomiting, pain, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss and other side effects from their treatments. Children that survive cancer often face lifelong problems from their treatments. These problems can range from breathing problems and difficulty walking to sight, hearing and heart issues. Many of these children can become traumatized from everything they go through. So, even though the treatments are over, their journey is still not over. They will have the fear of it returning.

Image 1Parents should not worry about losing their job, their home, their car or getting behind on bills because of the financial burden that cancer treatments cost. Many parents must create a GoFundMe page, so they can stay with their child in the hospital or be with them for their lengthy treatments. This should not be. We as a nation need to stand up for these children and do better. We need to ensure more research funding goes to these children. They deserve more than 4%.

*Credit for cancer statistics given to Coalition Against Childhood Cancer and the National Cancer Institute.

First Day of Grad School

By: Tina Michelle Cameron

Hi everyone. Well, today I embarked on my new educational adventure. The first day of Grad school at The University of Alabama. I am in the Master of Science Program with a concentration in Nursing Administration. My first two assignments are partially done- an introduction video which should have been easy—90 seconds, how hard could that be? Well, 18 takes later—nailed it!! Then successfully uploaded it to a new site that I am not at all familiar with.
I have been under the weather since Saturday afternoon and still feel crappy today as I write this (double ear infections, sinus infection, and eye infection, dizziness, low grade fever and terrible scratchy throat), so I will finish the other half of the assignments tomorrow. I am ahead of the due date—yea me! This is my goal for grad school and to not procrastinate on any assignment.
I procrastinate when it comes to house work and have been known to wait to start an assignment, but I am trying to avoid this. I have a wonderful boss who has her MSN degree and she has been very supportive and has made herself available for questions, etc. I am very thankful for Theresa. She is an amazing nurse manager.
Switching back to first day of school, I have so enjoyed seeing friends and family members posting on social media first day of school pictures of their sweet children that I have watched grow up. So, on Monday, I decided to do a first day of grad school photo. My neighbor saw me struggling to take a selfie, so he offered to take some pictures and my friend Hannah let me borrow her chalkboard sign. It was fun to do, and I have gotten wonderful responses on social media for posting it. I even shared it with the Bama by Distance Facebook page and the other grad students have since started posting their 1st day pictures!20190821_211209 (1)

I hope all your children have a wonderful year of school. May God watch over all our students at each school and university and keep them and the educators safe. Thank you to all the educators for what you do. I am a proud mom of a future educator.
I have included my 1st day of grad school pictures—enjoy!20190821_172041

Prayers for our Nation

By Tina Cameron

My heart is yet broken again. Prayers, hugs, and love again being sent to people that I have never met. Facebook status being changed again for “Prayers for _____”. I have said it before in a blog–ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! That was in response to Law Enforcement Officers being beaten, shot, stabbed and murdered on a daily basis. Today is about the horrific shootings this weekend in two different cities–El Paso and Dayton.

I live in the land of the free, home of the brave. We do not live in a country that is in a war. This is The United States of America. People should not need to live in fear to go run errands at Walmart, the mall, or to go out with friends to a nightclub/bar to have a fun time. I have no words after these tragedies this weekend. Just tears, fear, and anger. Tears for the innocent people murdered in cold blood. For the 8 week old baby whose 25 year-old mom who was murdered as she shielded her newborn. This poor innocent child will never know his mom other then through words and pictures from his surviving family members. Numerous people were killed Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 at a Walmart shopping center in El Paso. They were doing what a lot of us do on Saturday mornings–running errands, grocery shopping, back to school shopping for their kiddos. When the unimaginable and unfathomable happened again in America–another mass shooting. So many people murdered, so many more injured and remain hospitalized. The young person responsible for this appears to be smiling on the still photo the police released as he walked into Walmart to unleash his mayhem. I read he left a manifesto. I do not want to read anything about this monster. The public needs to focus on the victims and their families, law enforcement, first responders, and the hospital medical teams who worked to save these people. Then I wake up to hear the news of another mass shooting in Dayton. Many died, many injured. Thank God, the shooter was stopped before killing more people.

I am one person, who cares for everyone, and I feel helpless because I do not know what to do to help these people. Prayers, hugs, and love are not enough to save the American people from these monsters that are living near us. I cannot fathom how someone could have that much hate and anger in them. Daily or weekly mass shootings do not belong anywhere in our beautiful country.

Fear has now become a part of mine and others’ lives. I now own a small handgun for protection at my home, however many places like Walmart do not allow guns in their store, so what are we to do to protect ourselves? Children should not witness their parents being slaughtered as well as parents watching their innocent 2 year-old be shot.

Anger, anger, and more anger. This is what I have felt since Saturday. I do not personally know anyone who has been shot in the mass shootings, however I have friends who know people shot and killed in the mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas. Just this weekend, it was announced that a student was arrested for making terrorist threats and videos about shooting up the school. This is a private Catholic school where my nephew just graduated from, my niece attends school at and my brother coaches at. This is the closest I have come to a potential incident happening affecting someone I love. Thank God that law enforcement was made aware and the student has been arrested before he could carry out any shootings.

As much as these mass shootings continue to happen, I have to believe in my heart that there are more good people then evil in the world. We need to come together as a Nation and shout from the rooftops ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! We need to spread kindness, not hate. We are all the same!! So, as I sit here typing this, my thoughts remain with the victims and the families of these senseless shootings. Please know that America’s heart breaks with you. Continued prayers for them, law enforcement, first responders and medical staff.

#spreadkindness
#loveoneanother
#weareallthesame
#prayersloveandhugs
#prayersformankind
#prayforamerica