[The Brazil Times nameplate] Mostly Cloudy ~ 72°F  
High: 72°F ~ Low: 50°F
Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

A special lady overcoming the odds

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live " Dorothy Thompson, the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany in 1934.

This job has provided me the opportunity to work with some incredibly inspiring people.

In February, while doing a story on the recovery of her son Gerald "JJ" Bramer from life-threatening injuries in a two-vehicle T-bone collision on Nov. 16, 2007, I met Tina Bullock.

Although I was somewhat nervous about writing the story so close to after the accident, she greeted me with a huge welcoming smile.

I spent an hour getting to know Tina, her husband Charlie Bullock, and JJ.

Things hadn't been good for this family, but I learned how love, faith and strength had brought them through some tragic family events in 2007.

The year started out badly when Tina was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in March.

A fighter, Tina knew she had to fight cancer with all the strength God gave her. She underwent chemotherapy treatment and two surgeries, one resulting in a mastectomy.

"I am determined I'm not leaving my family," she said with a triumphant smile on her face. "I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, but I was going to fight it. And I won."

When we talked about participating in the American Cancer Society's 2008 Clay County Relay For Life event, I saw the wheels begin to turn in her mind as she set her heart on joining the fight against cancer.

"I don't want anyone or any family to have to endure cancer," she said.

I knew I'd see her at the Relay event in the spring, and I did. She became a warrior in the fight against cancer.

Tina organized a Relay team where she works at Holly Hill Nursing Home, and charged into fundraising events with determined gusto and passion. I am not sure how much they finally raised, but I am sure that team had a lot of fun doing it.

During the night of Relay, my camera lens caught Tina several times during the specialty laps throughout the night.

While passing me one time, I asked, "You having fun?"

"Oh yes!" she yelled back while carrying a poster of Remembrance and cheering her teammates on for another lap around the YMCA walking track. Every time I looked up that night, there was Tina's smiling face.

I haven't seen her since that night, but recently I've learned tragedy has struck again.

Tina beat cancer once, but shortly after Relay she discovered that it's returned again.

In May of this year, she started having uncontrollable brain seizures. Unable to work, but fighting back with a smile on her face, Tina's trekking to costly medical treatments and doctors appointments.

On Aug. 3, her friends held a "surprise" benefit in her honor at the Brazil American Legion Post. When Tina, her husband and son showed up for the event, she was having a hard time hiding the tears.

"I'm so nervous," said Tina, who was apparently excited. "I don't know what to expect."

Surrounded by people who care for her, Tina enjoyed the afternoon of music and companionship and looking forward to the future.

"I am looking so forward to being a grandma," Tina said. "I want to win this battle so I can meet the grandbaby in February."

Life and its impetuous sister Fate have a way of throwing curve balls, and fighting cancer is one of those tragedies that some people face in their lifetimes. The choice of facing the tragedies of life with dignified courage and a quality of mind and spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger and pain without fear is the truest test of bravery.

Tina is one of those incredible people. She is a warrior in the fight against cancer and a person who enjoys life and all that comes with it.

For more information about ways to help Tina and her family, call (812) 917-4591, or send a monetary donation in care of Holly Hills Activities Department, Attention: Tina Bullock, 501 S. Murphy Ave., Brazil, 47834.