After tough cancer battle, wife and husband both earn Cedarville pharmacy degrees

Tracee and Earnest Campbell thankful for support that allowed them to reach their degrees.

A Cedarville University couple who made it through a battle with breast cancer, all while working, raising a family and going to school, will receive their degrees this weekend.

Tracee and Earnest Campbell will receive their doctor of pharmacy degrees at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The husband and wife, who have been married for 12 years and live in Mount Orab, have worked in the industry for years as pharmacy technician interns with HealthSource of Ohio in Batavia and Sardina Pharmacy in Sardina.

They have undergraduate degrees in pre-pharmacy from Southern State University, but they wanted to further their education.

“After visiting a few schools, we felt discouraged,” Earnest Campbell said. “When we found and visited Cedarville, we fell in love with the university and the pharmacy program. We felt so welcome and knew this is where God wanted us to be.”

Along with the challenging transition into graduate school while working full time and raising a one-year-old child, Tracee Campbell also discovered some health concerns.

“In January after our first semester, I discovered a lump in my breast,” she said. “Due to COVID, I wasn’t able to get a mammogram until March, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was devastating, to say the least.”

Tracee, who had no genetic history of cancer or precursor symptoms, had three surgeries since the cancer was found in her lymph nodes, which required her to start chemotherapy treatment during her second year of college. The couple was allowed to take online classes, but it was a struggle.

“I had the option to take the year off, but I didn’t want to stop taking classes because I knew I could manage the treatment and classes,” she said. “(But) brain fog set in, and I couldn’t comprehend anything... I couldn’t finish exams on time. I was sick and felt awful.”

The university’s school of pharmacy rallied around the Campbell family, with faculty accommodating the couple with make-up exams, connected them with disability services to get extra time on exams, provided them with meals, gas cards for transportation to treatments and more. Classmates even sent them gift baskets and cards throughout Tracee’s treatment.

“The Lord used the students to get me through it,” Tracee said. “It was awesome. I don’t know how else to describe it but it’s just awesome.”

During her second year of college, Tracee had 18 rounds of chemo but still finished school with all A’s and B’s. By the third year, Tracee was cancer-free. Now, they are getting ready to graduate and are “grateful, thankful and excited” to have made it.

After graduation, the couple hopes to begin the next phase of their pharmacy careers. Tracee will work in a clinical pharmacy position with HealthSource and Earnest plans to start his own pharmacy and also become a full-time pastor at Bethel Shiloh Church of God in Brown County.

“I am so glad Cedarville was in the fight with us,” Tracee said. “We could not have made it without that support.”

Cedarville will hold two graduation ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 in the Doden Field House.

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