(WFRV) – Shawano senior Abby Tuma knew from an early age that volleyball was the sport for her.
“It’s been a big part of my life since I was a little girl. It was the one sport that I was good at. It was the one sport that I knew I was good at,” said Abby Tuma.
Tuma may not have known the impact the sport, her team, and her community would have on her years later. Especially when her world suddenly changed in the fall of her sophomore year of high school.
“I was called down to Children’s Hospital, put in the emergency room, and had a four hour MRI scan of my entire body. That MRI saw that their was a mass in my brain. Six days later I had a six hour brain surgery,” said Abby Tuma.
Abby was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer.
“My parents were also in the room. I said, ‘I’m sorry.’ What kid doesn’t want to make their parents proud. I felt like in that moment that I crushed their dreams of me becoming an independent woman like I am. Then I asked the doctor, ‘Am I going to die?’ Those shouldn’t be two things that fifteen year old’s should be telling their parents,” said Abby Tuma.
“Absolutely heartbreaking, devastating, devastating news and there was so much of it that was unknown. That was probably some of the hardest few days,” said Steve Tuma, Abby’s father.
What followed were constant trips to the hospital, treatments, and chemotherapy. During that time the support Abby received from her family, team, and community helped her through the fight against cancer.
“That just inspired her, really, to make it through. There honestly wasn’t a day through everything that she was going through, that she complained. She was just like, I’m one step closer,” said Steve Tuma.
“Through that I got so much support, and they were like, ‘you’re going to beat this. You’re going to come out on top.’ I held that ever since, and I think volleyball was a big part of it. I wanted to be back on the volleyball court. I never wanted to leave,” said Abby Tuma.
Abby wasn’t going to sit and watch from the stands when it came to volleyball season. Eventually getting back on the court for her senior season against Menasha last September.
“Coach said, ‘alright Abby, you’re going in,’ and I kind of looked at him like, ‘what?!’ As I was walking out onto the court. Everyone in the stands stood up. I was waiting for that moment for two years,” said Abby Tuma.
Getting back on the floor or winning a match are big accomplishments, but Abby’s greatest victory could be summed up in just two words.
“I am cancer free. It’s just a great word to say. Just being an inspiration to people right now. I don’t even have words for it, it’s so heart-warming,” said Abby Tuma.
This spring Abby was recognized by the WIAA and National Federation of State High School Associations by receiving the Spirit Award. Which recognizes athletes who exemplify the spirit of sports, and represent the core principals of high school athletics.