by Alex Boesch, Student Public Relations Writer
Tracee and Earnest Campbell had no idea what they’d have to go through to earn their degrees from Cedarville University’s School of Pharmacy after years of already working in the pharmacy industry. Persevering through a trying battle with breast cancer, the couple will receive their Doctor of Pharmacy degrees at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 — tried, tested and prepared for what’s next.
During their 12-year marriage, Tracee Campbell and Earnest Campbell found themselves wanting more than their pharmacy technician intern positions with HealthSource of Ohio in Batavia, Ohio, and Sardina Pharmacy in Sardina, Ohio, could provide.
While working full time in their respective pharmacies, the couple, both with undergraduate degrees in prepharmacy from Southern State University, decided to search for a Doctor of Pharmacy program to further their education.
They eventually came across Cedarville’s Doctor of Pharmacy program.
“After visiting a few schools, we felt discouraged,” said Earnest Campbell. “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.”
The couple took a leap of faith in their pharmacy graduate education. As students in their 30s with a one-year-old child, a challenging transition was expected. However, the challenges of being nontraditional students quickly paled in comparison to the health concerns that came next for Tracee.
“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.”
The diagnosis came out of nowhere. With no genetic history of cancer or precursor symptoms, the Campbells were suddenly thrust into a summer involving three surgeries, as the cancer was discovered in Tracee’s lymph nodes. The spread of the cancer required her to start chemotherapy treatment heading into her second of four years in the program.
The couple was permitted to attend classes online, but her struggles still persisted.
“Brain fog set in, and I couldn’t comprehend anything,” added Tracee. “I couldn’t finish exams on time. I was sick and felt awful.”
In response, the Cedarville School of Cedarville School of Pharmacy rallied around the Campbell family. Faculty accommodated the couple with make-up exams, connected them with disability services to receive extra time on exams, provided them with meals, gas cards for transportation to treatments and much more. Their classmates sent the couple gift baskets and cards throughout her treatment as reminders that they were in their prayers.
“The Lord used the students to get me through it,” Tracee Campbell said with a smile. “It was awesome. I don’t know how else to describe it but just awesome.”
Tracee Campbell powered through her P2 year, enduring 18 rounds of chemotherapy, and still finished with all A’s and B’s in her classes. One year later, in their third year, the Campbells learned Tracee was cancer–free, and they began focusing on her recovery and finishing their degrees.
“After all that, we are now getting ready to graduate,” said Tracee with a smile. “We are so grateful, thankful, and excited to have made it. I think I just might do a cartwheel across the stage at graduation.”
After commencement, the couple hopes to begin the next phase of their pharmacy careers. Tracee will work a clinical pharmacy position with HealthSource of Ohio, while her husband, Earnest, plans to start his own pharmacy. Simultaneously, he will step into the role of a full-time pastor at Bethel Shiloh Church of God in Brown County, Ohio.
“I am so glad Cedarville was in the fight with us,” said Tracee. “I don’t think any school would have cared for us as much as Cedarville. We could not have made it without that support.”Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 5,082 undergraduate, graduate, and dual-enrolled high school students in more than 175 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Doctor ofDoctor of Pharmacy Pharmacy program, high graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and the #4 national ranking by the Wall Street Journal for student engagement. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.