MADISON -- Milwaukee Democratic State Representative Tamara Grigsby was back at work for the first time in 2012. It was a return many thought she might never make. Grigsby was so sick, her kidneys and liver failed, but she battled back and was back to work Tuesday, March 13th.
A standing ovation and tears of joy marked the return of Grigsby to the Assembly floor. "It feels really good to see my colleagues and so many people that have sent me cards and support and well-thoughts, and to know that there are so many important battles going on right now - women's rights and voter ID, and things that are the meat of the issues that I care about are being taken up. I'm happy to be here today and to be able to have a voice on those issues," Grigsby said.
Grigsby was absent from the Assembly all year, as she battled an undisclosed form of cancer that nearly took her life. "I was in a very, very dire condition. I had organ failure with my kidneys and my liver, and it was not anticipated that I would make it. Through lots of prayer and support, I have begun the recovery process, and every day gets better, and I'm ready to get to work," Grigsby said.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Grigsby said, “I am grateful to my colleagues in the Legislature, others in state government, my constituents and people across Wisconsin for their unflagging support and patience. It has truly contributed to my ongoing recovery." Grigsby's colleagues placed flowers on her desk in her absence.
In December, Grigsby's staff announced the 37-year-old Democrat was battling cancer. Grigsby spent more than a month in the hospital, including two weeks in intensive care, and was released in early February. She says she watched what was going on in Madison from afar. "I was yelling at the TV and screaming at other people, and writing down my speeches that I would have given, so I was participating in my own way," Grigsby said.
Grigsby was elected in 2004 and is a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. She is known for her fiery floor speeches. Even as she recovers, she says she'll continue to approach her job with passion. "I think I still have a little fire left in me. I'm feeling stronger every day. I'm feeling better. I still have a long way to go, but I'm encouraged by my progress thus far," Grigsby said.
It's unclear whether Grigsby will keep a full schedule, but she says she's going to work as much as possible.