Mother to two beautiful children, Judd (5 years old) and Teagan (3 years old), Tatum and her husband Jeff’s lives were forever altered in December 2016 when Teagan “Sweet Tea” was diagnosed with medulloblastoma (a malignant brain tumor). Thrust into the difficult world of pediatric cancer Tatum figured out a way to "give purpose to the pain". Read her daughter’s full diagnosis and treatment story HERE.
During her daughter’s diagnosis and entire treatment, Tatum and Jeff were at the hospital for days, weeks, and months on end. While they received an immense amount of support from their community of family, friends, and skilled and compassionate medical team, they didn’t know any other families going through what they were: constantly yearning for another day with their child, praying at night they would get to witness their child grow up, experiencing the full onslaught of emotions of grieving the loss of life they had before and knowing they will never return to that life again, and reverently holding on to the power of hope and the courage to fight with every fabric of their being.
Because of HIPPA regulations and patient confidentiality issues, the doctors and staff legally could not put them in touch with other parents who were also going through their ordeal. When Tatum met two mothers (by happenstance in the pediatric oncology hallways) she knew she was not alone in her journey. She knew that others knew her pain, that others could relate to her fight, that others were finding support and staying resilient. These powerful connections helped her when she was down and reduced her suffering. When she connected with someone else in her shoes it gave her hope.
Tatum received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Psychology from Western Washington University in 2001 and her Masters of Education in School Counseling from Seattle University in 2009. Prior to taking time away from work to care for Teagan, she was a High School Counselor in the Issaquah School District for seven years. She loved her role encouraging all children to strive for their personal best as she assisted them with academic, personal, social, and career development needs.
HER PATH FORWARD
Now, Tatum is on a mission to make her nonprofit, healthcare mobile app a reality and views the design through her counseling “lens”. The app will specifically address quality of life and psychosocial issues (e.g., experiential isolation and loneliness) as it serves to decrease suffering and increase hope. The goal is to connect parents to ensure that parents with children with cancer as well as bereaved families can remain functional, intact, and connected with other parents who are going through what they are. When parents are healthy and supported this often can allow them to be more available to their children, which helps promote healing.