“Tanner Strong” : Community rallies around Horry County teen battling leukemia

Grand Strand

An Horry County family has had a long, whirlwind of a journey over the past few months. 

Tanner Buffkin, an eighth grader at Green Sea Floyds Middle School, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia at the beginning of the year. 

Back in January, Tanner went to the doctor with the flu. They prescribed him some medicine and sent him home, but after five days his mom Kammy said he still wasn’t better. 

“They did blood work and discovered that his platelets were low,” Kammy Buffkin said.

A few days later, Tanner got the cancer diagnosis. 

Since then, it’s been months of hospital rooms, tests, and chemo at MUSC in Charleston. 

Since he can’t be home often, his school, church, and family has brought the love to him. His classmates sent him a video while in the hospital and designed “Tanner Strong” bracelets.

The school held a variety show Friday and will host a dance this Friday in Tanner’s support. 

But no one has shown support in quite the same way as Tanner’s younger brother Dawson.

The fourth grader Facetimes his big brother twice a day while he’s in the hospital. Dawson’s support isn’t just emotional, it’s also physical.

“He’s actually gonna be Tanner’s donor,” Kammy said. Doctors will draw Dawson’s bone marrow and transplant it into Tanner’s body. 

“It means a lot,” Tanner said. “It means even though we do fight he still does care for me.”

With both of her boys expected to undergo surgery, Kammy said she’s relying on God. “Everybody’s like, we don’t know how you do it. It’s not us, it’s the good Lord,” Kammy told News13 tearfully. 

Tanner will go back to Charleston soon and won’t be able to come until September. 

He said he plans to treat the journey like riding a four wheeler. “And there’s a tree across the road, and there’s no way around it, so we’re gonna have to go through it one limb at a time.”

Adam’s Seafood in Tabor City, NC, about 10 minutes away from the Buffkins home in Green Sea, is hosting a fundraiser all day Tuesday for Tanner. 

A portion of all sales will go toward Tanner’s medical expenses. It will run through the restaurant’s closing at 9:30 p.m.

The restaurant said they’re sending the message that they’re “Tanner Strong.”

Tanner’s family has a GoFundMe page set up to help with expenses. You can also enter the Team Tanner Raffle at teamtannerraffle@gmail.com or contribute to the PayPal account at kammybuffkin@hotmail.com. 

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