Mariemont woman living with terminal diagnosis finds courage to speak for others
Sam Telgkamp may not know how long she has left, but the voice she’s found is timeless.
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Tri-State woman is making the most of her life after the rare and devastating diagnosis that will likely cut it short.
Sam Telgkamp grew up in Mariemont, where she played soccer and lacrosse. At Ohio University, she studied to become a child life specialist, intent to help children impacted with injuries and illnesses.
Then, a few years after she graduated, Sam’s own illness began to show itself.
It’s an experience she remembers vividly. She was at work and tried to put her badge on but couldn’t fix it to her shirt.
“I kind of looked at my co-worker, like, ‘I can’t do this right now... Like, I physically cannot pinch this open long enough to get it on my shirt,’” she recalled.
Doctors diagnosed Sam with ALS. She was just 25, an extraordinarily young age for symptoms to start.
Sam’s father, Dan Telgkamp, had the same reaction then as he has now—the same reaction any father might have to news so dire heaped on a daughter so young.
“Give it to me,” he said. “Let her live. That’s how I feel.”
Sam’s symptoms have since spread. She’s still all smiles in the photos taken of her, but a constant gnawing twitch plagues the left side of her body. She says it feels like fireworks.
Succumbing to despair, though, isn’t in her plans.
“This diagnosis—yes, it’s a diagnosis, and it sucks, and it’s terminal—but I have all this time, and you know, I have to enjoy the life I have,” she said.
Enjoying her life she has is exactly what Sam is doing. It’s why she recently embarked on a trip to Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
“That road trip was a dream trip, and we got to go to really cool places,” she said. “The dream was that I wanted to hike and stuff, and I wasn’t able to do all that, but I was able to see and walk some areas that were just as beautiful.”
These days, you can find Sam typing with the only hand available to her. She’s created a blog called “Staying Loudly,” her way of helping others diagnosed with ALS while honoring her commitment to stay in the moment.
“I think it says that I’m not going to let this diagnosis of ALS stop me from where I am,” she said. “I’m going to use my voice and my being and my time here, not just staying and living my life, but trying to help others stay and live their life.”
A defiant sentence from her blog reads, “ALS picked the wrong person.”
Sam’s father is impressed with her daughter’s courage, but he isn’t surprised.
“She’s got this disease, but she’s worried about others. Says a lot about a human being,” he said. “You know, we’re going to live to the fullest extent, and there’s no doubt Staying Loudly will be talked about for many, many, many years, because I know Sam.”
Sam says she can feel her symptoms starting to spread. The family will continue to make changes to their home to accommodate.
You can donate to the Samantha Telgkamp family trust fund at any Fifth Third Bank location.
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