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Mom's 'will to live' graduates from high school

May 09, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.

Tammy Day wanted to live to see her oldest daughter, Megan, graduate from Chambersburg Area Senior High School and Wednesday, with a graduation cake and family and friends on hand, she did.

In a brief ceremony in the Day's Highland Road home, 18-year-old Megan was presented her high school diploma by Assistant Principal Kurt Widmann, as her mother, father Gill, 13-year-old sister Sarah and others watched.

"I wanted to see her graduate ... I know I won't see her graduate college, or see her get married, or have children," said Tammy Day, 36, who was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago.

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"She was my will to live. My husband and my other daughter, too," she said. "I knew she would be disappointed if I gave up, so I keep on fighting, but I can't fight anymore."

"I'm very proud of her ... You don't know what this means to me," Day said.

"I think she'll be able to come to my real graduation, but just in case," Megan said, still wearing a white graduation gown shortly after receiving the diploma. The CASHS graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday, June 8.

"I'm happy, but I'm sad at the same time," said Megan, who wants to become a registered nurse and will be attending Harrisburg (Pa.) Area Community College this fall.

At this time of year, most seniors are thinking about the end of school, being with friends and making plans for the summer. Outside of school, Megan said she has not had much of a social life this year, preferring to spend her free time with her mother.

"You only get one mother," she said. "When my Mom's passed, I'll be able to do those things."

"I'd tell her to go off with her friends, but she would not go out," Tammy said. "She's devoted as much into this as I have ... She came to the hospital every day and laid down with me."

Tammy Day had chemotherapy and radiation treatments that initially shrank the tumor doctors found two years ago, but the cancer returned, Megan said. Subsequent treatments and surgery failed to stem the spread of the disease, she said.

"It just spread too far. She really doesn't want to try anything else because she's too sick ... She's not strong enough," the daughter said.

In her bedroom, Tammy Day said good-bye to friends from work.

"These are all my co-workers ... Not my ex-co-workers. They're my family," she said.

"This has not been an easy year for the staff," said Dr. Michael Cerveris. Tammy Day worked as a scheduling coordinator at his dental practice and, despite her illness, still came into work occasionally, he said.

Life teaches lessons and two of those lessons are that life can be short and time precious.

"I can tell everyone, just take everyday and fill it," Megan said.

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