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Beating the Odds

Personal Story

Hi, my name is Tatum Cempella. I was born August 23rd 2005 to Melissa & Brad Cempella.  Like all parents, they were overjoyed to bring home their first born, healthy from the hospital.

At age two the unexpected happened.  I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. That one moment changed everything, my family was heartbroken.

ffa_photoicon30Main Image:
David Haynes

The very next day, I was given my port. A port is a small circular device made of metal with a squishy plastic center, and a thin tube that is inserted into a vein. Blood can be drawn from the port, or medicine can be given through the port.

After I recovered from the surgery, I was given I.V. chemotherapy. I stayed in the hospital for ten days, then fifteen to Twenty days later I lost my hair.

This was one of the hardest things I had to do at that age and time.

My dad promised me that Santa Clause would give me a puppy if I let him shave my head. I eventually said yes. I hated having no hair. I always had to wear a dress because I thought I looked like a boy.

Then came the day I got my dog. I remember, being back in my play room, sitting at my little white table when, I heard sleigh bells. I jumped up from my seat, and ran to the front door.  My dad came in with a little white box and a pink bow around it.

( I adore pink!) I opened the box and a dog ran out to greet me. “Cassie you’re here!!!” I exclaimed. I had been waiting for this dog for so long. I had pre – picked the color, type, and name.

This dog strengthened me, but my biggest supporters were my parents. They did anything they could to make me happier through 28 spinal taps, hundreds of shots and chemo. My parents, family, nurses, dogs, and doctor’s support kept a smile on my face.

David Haynes

On June 23, 2010, I had my last dose of chemo. I beat cancer.

Fast forward to 2016 and I’ve made it to age 10, cancer free! I get blood work done once a year to double check. I play lacrosse, I love to write and spend time with my family.

Eight years after I was diagnosed, I am inspiring people with my story, and believing I can overcome anything.

David Haynes


Tatum Cempella

Tatum Cempella

Age 10

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