This month's featured #bloomgirl is Stephanie Tini! We are so inspired by Stephanie's strength and determination! Her story has resonated so deeply with us and we hope it can inspire you as well! Keep reading to learn all about Stephanie's battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Tell us your story!
My name is Stephanie Tini and I am a five-year cancer survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was a sophomore in college when I heard the devastating news that I was going to go through the battle of my life. With one trip to the ER, my life was turned completely upside down. I went there for a cough that would not go away, severe night sweats, a lump on the side of my neck, and a rash all over my stomach, and the consistent feeling of fatigue every day. I was at a breaking point mentally by feeling more like a zombie walking around campus as I was forcing myself to get up and go to class...and it wasn’t from a hangover. With one X-ray, I was told I had a 20 cm tumor right in the middle of my chest. I was told that I was ‘lucky’ I went to the ER when I did because I would have most likely died in my sleep a week later had I waited any longer. Fast forward a couple days after my diagnosis, I was transferred to a better hospital for treatment. My first step was for the doctors to take a biopsy of my tumor from my chest. I was taken to the OR and received anesthesia, and then my life turned upside down from that moment forward...My heart stopped. My breathing stopped. I died twice on that table and was brought back to tell my story.
I woke up to a tube in the middle of my throat attached to a ventilator, keeping me alive. I could not talk, eat, or barely move. The doctors told me that I must have learned to live and deal with that tumor so long in my chest, that once I was given the anesthesia my body finally relaxed and therefore the tumor collapsed onto my lungs and heart, making me flat line. I went to hell and back to get back on my feet and out of that hospital. That hospital became my home. I wasn't able to leave the hospital for almost 6 months after my biopsy.
I am now stronger than I ever thought was possible. I am proud of my achievements even when I had so much doubt if I would ever overcome my traumatic experiences with what cancer did to me mentally and physically. I am here to show that no matter what comes your way in life, you roll with the punches and you fight. I’ve had many of days where I constantly felt like I was going two steps forward, ten steps back. I had to slowly learn to accept the disappointments to reach those accomplishments, and I eventually did over time.
Now, I am 5 years cancer free of Hodgkin’s lymphoma! AND also to mention, I am soon to be married to the love of my life that I had the pleasure of meeting right after I got out of the hospital! He has helped me heal from my scars and self-consciousness to see the real me underneath the wig and port in my arm.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I’d have to say, my mother. My mom is a survivor of ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed a couple years after I was born. I cannot even imagine trying to take care of a toddler while going through chemotherapy and radiation. My mom has been through a lot throughout her life and I admire her wholeheartedly. She is my world and I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today without her support and tough love. She was by my side every single day that I was in the hospital, and all while trying to go to and from work. She is my hero.
If you could talk to yourself 5 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
I’d say... Stand up tall, put your big girl pants on, and be prepared to show the world just what you are capable of because you’re gonna amaze and inspire people one day that they are not alone in this fight!
What are some life lessons that have helped shape you?
When I was sitting in the hospital hating my life, refusing to do any therapy, and feeling deeply depressed... I realized that this is the lowest point I’ve ever felt my entire life. I didn’t like the way I was thinking. I didn’t like the depressed thoughts I kept saying to myself over and over again. It was not healthy and it wasn’t making my situation any better. I learned the only way out is to push myself to my limits. I was getting off that ventilator. I was going to make myself walk around the hospital floor to strengthen my legs and lungs again. I was eventually going to get my peg tube in my stomach out so I could eat and drink again... this is the most memorable lesson in life for me. To stop feeling sorry for myself and get up and do something about it. And I did!
What is your message to anyone going through a similar situation that you had?
You are beautiful. Your hair will grow back. Your parents will now be on guard with every cough and sneeze you make from here on out, no matter how old you are- sorry! You will have setbacks. You will have amazing days and rough days. You’re not missing anything and you DO have time to catch back up on your life, I promise you. Focus on your health and do not overdo it either. Help others around you that are going through the same thing... and always remember you are not alone in this.
I want to thank bloom for being a part of my life during my battle with cancer. Kaylyn would visit me in the hospital and brought me goodies to keep me comfortable and motivated. She bought a poster of a beautiful ocean because I always said I wanted to go to Atlantis in the Bahamas when I got out of the hospital. I would look at this every day. She also led a fundraiser for me and many people at bloom contributed. You girls are all so inspiring and it truly shows that with what you create, you do it with love! Your planners and organizers help my chaotic life providing less stress and more relief! I’m the kind of person if I do not write it down, I will forget what I need to have done in most likely 20 minutes... Chemo brain is no joke, ladies! I love my Peacock Vision Planner and Peacock Notebook! Also, planning a wedding will be a breeze now tracking my payment due dates and scheduling appointments in my new Wedding Planner!
We hoped you loved reading about Stephanie's story! Do you have a #girlboss story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be our next featured bloom girl!
the bloom team