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Local woman refuses to let cancer steal her joy

When Kamesia Tyson first learned she had colon cancer,  she decided then and there that this diagnosis would not dampen her spirit.

When Kamesia Tyson first learned she had colon cancer, she decided then and there that this diagnosis would not dampen her spirit.

What some may ultimately deem a tragedy, others might see as a blessing in disguise. This was the case of one Luverne native when on Nov. 4, 2015 she discovered she had stage four metastatic colon cancer.

Kamesia Tyson, life-long Crenshaw County resident and Brantley High School graduate, wasn’t sure what the cause of her abdominal pain was when it first began over a year ago.

“I hadn’t been feeling sick at all. I would have this little nagging pain in my right side sometimes when I would eat, but then it was nothing to make me think I was sick,” she said.

“I was exercising and working, so I felt like I was pretty healthy. I had changed my diet and everything, but one morning I woke up and I had this nagging pain again. At this point, it didn’t go away; it just progressively got worse.”

At first, she believed the pain stemmed from her gallbladder and decided to change her diet in order to remedy the problem. But the pain soon turned into uncontrollable vomiting.

After going back and forth on the decision to go to the emergency room, Tyson new she needed to seek medical attention.

“We drove to the ER in Troy, and they actually thought it was my gallbladder, too, with the symptoms I had,” she said.

“They did an ultrasound and the doctor just didn’t see anything. They did a Computed Tomography (CT) scan and that’s when they found the tumor. They transported me to Birmingham that night. It was awhile before they told me it was cancer.”

Doctors told Tyson that the tumor they found had been present on her colon for approximately 10 years. By the time it was discovered, it almost completely blocked her colon, which should have hindered Tyson’s ability to use the bathroom, eat and drink. Tyson says none of these symptoms happened to her in that time.

“I should have been really sick, shouldn’t have been able to eat or use the bathroom because my colon was completely blocked, but I actually felt healthier than I had in a really long time,” she said.

“They told me they saw some spots on my liver, so they would need to do a biopsy. I was rushed into surgery and when I came out, the doctor came in to talk to us. That’s when he told me that they got all of the tumor out, had to take out part of my colon and he told me it was stage four cancer because it had progressed to my liver.”

Even though the larger tumor was removed from her colon, Tyson notes that almost five smaller tumors were spread out along her liver. While her colon is currently on the mend, her liver still has a long way to go until it sees recovery.

“Normally, they could go in and do surgery on the liver and take out the tumors, but the way they are spaced out, two on one side and three on the other, they can’t go in and cut out around it. It wouldn’t leave me with enough liver to live,” she said.

“They tried to kill it with chemo, but this last week I decided I’m not going to have any more chemo. This is my third cycle of chemo, and this medicine was so horrible that my body was rejecting it.”

Through this entire journey, Tyson still holds firmly to her faith in God. Without the strength given to her from the Lord, she believes that the experience would have been much worse that it is.

“I know God came in and gave me the strength. I didn’t think I could cope with really hard things prior to this, but ever since I’ve been sick I have this strength from somewhere I can’t explain. I know it’s from God, but I don’t worry, I don’t sit around and feel sorry for myself and I never question God. I just feel like this storm was meant for me, and whatever God’s will is, I’m fine with it.”

Since learning of her illness, Tyson’s friends, family and community have come together in amazing ways to support her and help pay for her medical expenses.

Tyson specifically mentions The Chicken Shack of Luverne and its staff members when recalling the amazing kindness she has received from the community.

“Each one of them has a special place in my heart, because they reached out to me. They have taken up donations for me, and I never have to pay for a meal when I want Chicken Shack,” she said.

Tyson also notes that many local churches have helped her in this time by taking up monetary donations for her and by praying for her.

“The community rallied around us and just stepped up. They would feed us and donate to us so we didn’t have to go without,” she said.

Many different fundraisers have taken place for Tyson over the past year, but the most recent one took place on Dec. 10 at the Luverne High School auditorium.

To help raise funds for Tyson, two of her friends, Jessica Freeman and Sheena Gregory Owens, came together and organized the Miss Christmas Wonderland Pageant.

“I’ve pretty much known her my whole life; we’re family. My husband and I had just finished a BBQ plate fundraiser for Kamesia, and about a couple of days after that, Jessica reached out to me about helping her with the Miss Christmas Wonderland Pageant fundraiser for her,” Owens said.

“It was for such a worthy cause, and I’m very passionate about helping, especially in these cases, because I watched my brother Lance Brooks battle cancer. The community came together and showed my brother and his entire family so much love and support in his time of need. People have got to realize that it’s Kamesia today, but it could be you or I tomorrow.”

There were a total of 16 contestants in the pageant, and the group was able to raise $678.

To this day, Tyson’s doctors still cannot give her a cause for her cancer, but they do believe it had slowly been building for the better part of 10 years.

“They said with the kind of cancer I had, it took time; it didn’t just pop up and go from stage one to stage four overnight,” Tyson said.

While colon cancer does run in her family on her father’s side, doctors were able to determine that the cause of the cancer was not genetic. With this in mind, Tyson now begins to tell her three sons what she feels they can do to try and prevent this in their futures.

“They don’t have a clue as to where it came from. I can’t tell my boys to do anything special, but of course you always want to try to eat healthy,” she said.

“Other than that, all I can tell them is that they have to start getting tested early and yearly. When they say early, they mean 25.”

In the midst of this trial, Tyson says that her relationship with the Lord has done nothing but strengthen. While many may see these times as God forsaking them, she sees it as preparation to help someone else in need that may need her advice and support.

“I don’t see myself as anything special, but I feel like the strength I have is special because it came from God. People just don’t understand how I can stay positive all the time, and I can’t even understand it or explain it to anybody other than I know it was from God,” she said.

“I’m just blessed to have the people that I have around me. It probably sounds crazy to say it’s been a blessing, but this has brought my family closer than we’ve ever been. God is good, and I have an awesome support system.”

Tyson hopes and prays that by sharing her story with others, she will be able to inspire, motivate and help those who may be going through similar circumstances. She believes that nothing can be gained by keeping her story to herself, and she is sure that a blessing will come from this in due time.