Cincy Chic: Your latest book, From Incurable to Incredible, launched in June, but what was your inspiration for the book?
Author Tami Boehmer: I wrote this book because I needed to hear these stories and knew others did, too. In February 2008, I had a recurrence of breast cancer, months after my five-year, cancer-free anniversary. I noticed a lump in my armpit. Subsequent tests showed it also spread to my lymph nodes in the chest and to my liver. One doctor told me I could live two years or 20 years, but I’d die from breast cancer. My daughter was 8 at the time, and I wasn’t planning on going anywhere.
I decided what I needed was hope. A seed was planted in 2002 when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and read the book Love, Medicine and Miracles by Dr. Bernie Siegel. Bernie described "exceptional cancer patients" who beat the odds because they were healing their lives. I had recently learned Buzz Sheffield, a friend from church, had been living with a rare cancer for almost five years after being told he had three to six months to live. I knew there had to be more people like him and that I needed to share their stories. Buzz’s story was the first one I wrote.
Cincy Chic: You talked with several breast cancer survivors, so what was one of the most powerful stories you heard in your research?
Boehmer: Six stories in the book, including mine, are about breast cancer survivors. Ann Fonfa’s story strikes me as the most incredible because she has been cancer-free from stage IV breast cancer since 2001 — without ever having chemotherapy. Because of her severe chemical sensitivity, Ann refused chemotherapy when she was first diagnosed with early-stage cancer in 1993. So she began to research other alternatives.
In 1999, doctors told Ann cancer had spread to her chest wall. She tried various therapies, including Chinese herbs. That year she also launched the Annie Appleseed Project, a respected online clearing house for information on complimentary cancer therapies.
On Sept. 12, 2001, Ann went to see her doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, just blocks away from the World Trade Center site. She received amazing news: She was cancer-free. Knowing everyone needed hope amidst the tragedy, her doctor brought Ann to the lobby to announce it. Ann sat outside crying as she watched smoke billowing from the demolished towers. Ann recalls, "I was crying because I was living, and everyone else was crying because people had died. It was very poignant experience."
Cincy Chic: What was the experience like for you in talking with all of these incredible survivors?
Boehmer: It has been extremely therapeutic to me. The more people I found who shared their stories with me, the more confident I became that I, too, could beat the odds. I talked with so many of these "miracle" survivors, it began to feel like they were the norm, not the exception to it. They showed me anything is possible and there’s always hope. I consider them my friends. It’s like the perfect support group — survivors with similar diagnoses who never give up and are living life to the fullest.
I continue to interview survivors who beat the odds and share their stories on my blog, MiracleSurvivors.com. Many people have contacted me on my site to share their stories, so I continue to be inspired all the time.
Cincy Chic: Where can Cincy Chic readers get From Incurable to Incredible?
Boehmer: The book is available at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Norwood, Borders in Mason at the Deerfield Towne Center and New Thought Unity bookstore in East Walnut Hills. People have told me that they asked for it at other bookstores and a staff member ordered it for them. It’s also available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and through my blog.
Cincy Chic: When you aren’t working on a book, what do you like to do for fun?
Boehmer: I love traveling and being in nature. Our last trip was to Utah, where we visited one of the people in my book and then explored Bryce Canyon and the surrounding areas. My favorite part of the trip was a private, guided mule ride led by a local guy whose family has lived there for four generations. It was awesome!
When I’m home, I like to take walks around the neighborhood and jam to music on my Ipod. I’m really into ’80s music, but I like a lot of newer music, too. No matter, what I’m doing, I’m happiest when I’m spending quality time with my husband Mike and daughter Chrissy.
Cincy Chic: What do you love most about Cincinnati?
Boehmer: I love that it has everything you’d want in a big city, but it feels like a small town. I had a friend from Boston who said going to a concert or game there was a huge hassle. Here, just about all of our attractions are nearby with about half the crowd of a big city.
I also love there is lots of green space to explore. I feel like I’m always running into people I know or people who know people I know. I’ve found people to be very supportive of me. There are a lot of wonderful people in this city.