Sometimes, when I'm interviewing someone, I have the fleeting thought that "I really wish I were friends with this person!" Over the past few days, I've had just that impression as I've exchanged emails with Allison Tamme, a Danville native and WKU alumna. As Allison discussed her faith and her family, it felt like I was chatting with an old friend. When the conversation turned to her husband, former Kentucky football star and current Denver Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme, Allison was humble and gracious. She mentioned his famous teammates like Peyton Manning as casually as you'd mention your husband's law partner or sales manager, and spoke of the Broncos' upcoming Super Bowl appearance with a mixture of excitement and humility.
Allison was kind enough to share the story of a mom, football wife, and cancer survivor with us. I know that, come Super Bowl Sunday, many of us here in Kentucky will be cheering on Jacob and the Wildcats Broncos! -- HCW
HK: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
AT: I grew up in Danville, Kentucky and attended Boyle County High School and Western Kentucky University. I'm your average small-town girl living in a big city! My current occupation is a stay at home mom for our two year old son, Luke. He definitely keeps me on my toes each day and brings adventure to our lives. I'm taking online classes to get my Master's in Teaching (MAT) and hope to have an elementary classroom of my own one day. I'm a self-taught seamstress and I'm currently working on a quilt for my friend and lots of dresses for my niece. I'm a Pinterest junkie and love to bake, craft, and create. Kentucky is definitely home for me and I go back to Danville every chance I get! Although Denver is beautiful, there is nothing better than the crisp air and southern hospitality of The Bluegrass State!
HK: I know that you are a thyroid cancer survivor. That had to be such a scary diagnosis to hear. What advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed?
AT: Today is actually the one year anniversary of my diagnosis. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. Nothing will derail your life quite like the Big "C". My advice for a newly-diagnosed cancer patient is to avoid the Web. I believe that knowledge is power, but the wrong knowledge will scare you to death. I spent the first night after my diagnosis sleeplessly reading all kinds of bogus information on message boards about my cancer. It completely freaked me out and most of the information didn't even pertain to me. I would definitely suggest that you speak to an oncologist first before you do any research on your own.
The most important thing to me during my battle with cancer was the support of my family and friends. My family is probably the most amazing family ever! I know lots of people say that, but I really do mean it! The night I was diagnosed my family and Jacob's family came straight to our house and brought dinner and ice cream and just loved on me. It meant so much! They would drop everything at a moment's notice to help us with our son, our house, laundry, food, etc. during my surgery and treatment. I can't tell you how many times our friends and members of our church told me they were praying for me... what a blessing and a honor that was. To have a wonderful support system and a strong faith in Christ completely changed my outlook during my battle with cancer.
HK: What did you learn from your battle with thyroid cancer?
AT: I wouldn't call cancer a gift, but it definitely was an educator. I have learned that the things we eat, the chemicals we use daily, and our environment can change our health immensely. I never considered myself to be an unhealthy person, but I am living a much more healthy lifestyle now. I'm doing everything I can to keep my family from having to go through what I've been through the past year. I've also learned what is most important in life. Before cancer, I would stress out about cleaning our house, finding the perfect outfits for holidays and planning our schedule down to the last minute months in advance. After cancer, all of that has changed. I'm much more relaxed because I know that what is most important are the people you love and the time we spend with them.
HK: How did you and Jacob meet?
AT: Jacob and I grew up in the same hometown and we first met each other in preschool at
Lexington Avenue Baptist Church. We even have pictures together at the age of 5! We started dating the summer after our sophomore year of high school and have been together ever since. When we started dating, Jacob was playing baseball and had long curls flipping out from under his baseball cap! When football practice started later that summer we spent lots of time together because I was the manager (aka: water girl) for the Boyle County Rebels football team. Jacob would always get teased by other players and coaches that he got preferential treatment because I was his girlfriend! After high school, Jacob went to the University of Kentucky and I went to Western Kentucky University. I spent lots of time in college traveling to every football game the Cats played. We had a long distance relationship for four years and it made our relationship much stronger!
HK: Football has, obviously, played a huge role in your life as well as your husband's. Do y'all talk sports at home?
AT: Most people think football is our life, and while it is a huge part of our life, we both realize that its not the most important thing. To us, football is Jacob's profession. I know most people scoff at the thought of football being a job, but it truly is. I get offended sometimes when people say that football isn't a "real" job. Jacob works so hard! During the season he works seven days a week and leaves our house at 6am and rarely returns home before 6pm. In the NFL, it is so much more of a mental job than a physical job. The players spend much more time in meetings and learning plays and defenses than they do on field. With that said, we do talk sports at home, but it's not what you would expect. I always ask him if he has any funny stories from the day and he will sometimes show me a great play he made at practice on their film, but other than that our talking mostly revolves around Luke.
HK: What is the mood like at your house going into the Super Bowl? How excited is Luke?
AT: This is our second trip to the Super Bowl and it is just as, if not more exciting than the first! After the AFC Championship win, it was really surreal that the Super Bowl trip was really happening. Then Monday afternoon hits and the reality of planning the logistics of the trip hit you in the face! I'm not going to lie, it is stressful to plan flights, hotels and tickets for the big game, but it's ALL such a blessing! The players left for New York on Sunday so right now Luke and I are anxiously awaiting our trip on Thursday. Luke is very, very excited! He LOVES football and plays with Jacob nearly every day! Luke always says, "Daddy, I'll be Peyton and you be the touchdown guy!" We are hoping that his imagination comes to life on Sunday!
HK: I've read that the former Wildcats- Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan and Jacob -- are wearing UK blue in practice for The Big Game. Is it good to have a little bit of the Wildcat Nation with you guys?
AT: I haven't heard about them wearing blue for practice, but you can guarantee they will be supporting the Big Blue Nation in New York. We absolutely love having lots of Wildcats out here in Denver!
Champ Kelley is in the front office as well, so four Wildcats in all! Peyton, Britton (our punter) and Robert Ayres (defensive end) are all Tennessee Volunteers so the Cats always like to take jabs at them! It's all in good fun except for that one Saturday each fall when they play each other!
Thanks so much to Allison Tamme for taking the time to chat with us today. I know I speak for so many Kentucky fans in wishing Jacob and the Broncos the best of luck in the Super Bowl this weekend!