Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Countdown to the 2012 Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure

We are just 10 short days away from the 2012 3 Day Walk.  I got the chance to write a "guest" blog post for the King 5 website this week.  Check it out HERE! 

Our team, TEAM TRACY, has raised over $30,000 so far for the 2012 walk.  We still have a few teammates that need some donations to get to their $2300 minimum.  If you are interested in donating to our team, click on this LINK to go to our team fundraising page and click on one of the following names:  Liz Nelson, Vicki Albrecht, Laura Noftsger or Mia Bigliardi. We are a dedicated team, and we want each and every teammate to be able to make it to the starting line at CenturyLink Field on Sept. 14th!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

4 Year "Cancer-versary" HERE'S TO LIFE!

This week I celebrate 4 years since my first cancer diagnosis.
Yes, I said "celebrate".

Some find it odd that you could find celebration in one of the worst days of your life - but I do.  That day my life changed FOREVER.  But lets be clear - I hate cancer.  I give cancer no credit for where I am in my life.  I give it zero "props" for the woman I've become.  In fact I give cancer the middle finger...maybe both middle fingers at once - with a few obscenities thrown in for good measure.

Someone told me once, trying to explain all the positive things that had come from her breast cancer diagnosis, that she was "thankful" for cancer.  I literally felt shivers up my spine and my gut physically wrenched.  All I could think was "Awww - HELLLL NO" (yes, I just waved my finger in the air when I said that).  To me that's like saying you are happy that you were abused.  This woman continued by telling me how much her process through cancer "gave her".  I thought....huh...interesting.  My cancer gave me scars, a bald head, night sweats, bone pain, neuropathy, memory loss, no feeling in my big toe, a compromised immune system, a slim chance of ever having children, anxiety and pile of debt that I will probably be paying off for the duration of my life.  It gave me something alright - but none of it was a gift.

But the reality I've come to embrace is that there is no way to go through this process and not change and learn something about yourself.  Fundamentally, yes - I am still the same...although trying to remember who "pre-cancer" Tracy was is nearly impossible for me.  I'm certain that the high doses of chemo I've undergone have completely wiped some memories clean from my memory bank.  Mind you, this does come in quite handy for a few questionable dates, ridiculous diets and horrific hairstyles I apparently thought were good ideas.  I'll just stick with the idea that if I don't remember - it didn't happen.  

While change has never been easy for me...the changes I have gone through and the lessons I have learned are some that may ultimately save my life and save the lives of others.  Sounds dramatic...but seriously, I have found a purpose for my life.

I have morphed into a person who believes that...
- I'm worth fighting for.
- I can make a difference.
- I have an ability and the opportunity to connect and communicate to spread a message of love, compassion and understanding.
- I have become someone who is unafraid to be happy....not somewhere down the road...but RIGHT NOW.
- listening is more important than talking.
- if you are being honest with yourself, you can't be wrong.
- I am in control of my success and failures, and I can always learn from both.
- my smile is my best and most important accessory.
- life is too short to settle.
- I can survive anything.

Some may think these things are "no brainers".  But I can honestly say that before cancer - many of these things were not things I knew about myself.

4 YEARS LATER - HERE I AM!  So, raise your virtual keg cup and join me in saying "Here's to fighting & Here's to LIFE".



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

50,000 Blog hits & over $10,000 raised!!!

I just realized I haven't posted a blog post in about 6 weeks.  I am falling down on the job!  I also just notice that the "hit" counter on my blog has well surpassed 50,000 hits.  Amazing!  This little blog I decided to start just short of 4 years ago - has certainly taken on a life of it's own.  Sometimes I feel the same way about my own life...this little self-contained life I had has taken a very different turn and has gone down roads I could have NEVER imagined prior to my cancer diagnosis.

This week I am being fitted for the fashion show that happens on Thursday, May 3rd at the Showbox SODO for Northwest Hope & Healing.  I am also working on my speech I am delivering that evening.  Just thinking about it gives me anxiety - but I am pretty sure that as I get into it - I will calm down and speak from the heart.  It should be a REALLY fun night - and tickets are still available if you would like to attend.  Go to:  Northwest Hope & Healing

My 3 Day Walk team has surpassed the $10,000 mark.  We have just over 20 weeks before we walk in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day in Seattle.  We still need additional donations and would love to add additional walkers to our team.  Please check out our team page if you are interested in either.  Go To:  TEAM TRACY - 3 DAY 

Throughout my weeks I am so honored and privileged to spend time with many of the women on my 3 day team.  Such wonderful people, giving so much of themselves - for a cause so near and dear to us all.  I am proud to call them team mates and especially FRIENDS!

(Me & Stephanie - 2nd year TEAM TRACY walker)

(Me & Marnie - 1st year TEAM TRACY walker)

(Kylie - 1st year walker, Jennifer - 5th year walker and ME - 6th year walker)

Hope to have a bunch of photos from the fashion show next week!  Wish me LUCK!!!
xoxo



Friday, March 9, 2012

Exactly where I need to be...

I just recently received my 5 month clean bill of health.  Still No Evidence of Disease (NED)!!!  Next month will be my 6 month check up which I consider to be the equivalent of a 60,000 mile service on your car.  Time to look under the hood and see what's really going on.  I will do the standard bloodwork, but will also do a PET scan and mammogram.  All that fun stuff!

In other news...lots of exciting things going on - and amazing ways I have been given opportunities to share my survivor story and help some amazing organizations raise money for Breast Cancer research and patient assistance.  Last month I was asked if I would be willing to tape a 5 minute message that would be shown at the beginning of the Susan G. Koman Puget Sound Affiliate Auction/Gala "Grace Notes".  It was at the Fairmount Hotel downtown and a pretty swanky event.  I didn't attend the evening's festivities (the $300 ticket price was not in my budget).  But my friends that did attend, took a photo of the screens while my video played.  The folks at SGK are sending me a DVD of the message - so I will eventually be able to see how it turned out.  Apparently it went over really well, and at the point of the video that I said I was 5 months cancer free - the entire room of 300 people erupted into applause.  Pretty cool!  They managed to raised nearly $850,000 that evening, and I was so happy they asked me to have a part in that.


I also have been asked to participate in the Northwest Hope & Healing Style '12 Fashion Show again this year on May 3rd.  This year they have also asked me to be the person who speaks right before they do their "ask"/paddle raising portion of the evening.  I stood on stage last year as a husband of a 3 time cancer survivor spoke - and he was AMAZING!  I have big shoes to fill, I just hope I can do as good of a job.  Such a huge responsibility.  Tickets for this event are currently on sale starting at $40 for General Admission.  I would love to see lots of friendly faces in the audience.  Follow this link for more information. STYLE '12 INFO

Then in June, I have been asked to be the Survivor speaker for the Relay for Life in West Seattle.  What an amazing opportunity!  I participated in a Relay for Life event back in 2002, long before I was diagnosed with cancer.  And last year I attended the Relay for Life at the West Seattle Stadium shortly after I had my lymphnodes removes - and I just remember it being a gorgeous event.  They line the track with luminaries in honor and remembrance of those who have battled cancer.  It is pretty moving and just a really great way to spend an evening fighting for a cure for cancer.  All money raised for this event goes to the American Cancer Society.  To register for this event - click HERE!

So I continue to try to use this crazy journey I've been on - through multiple diagnosis - multiple months of treatment - and now survivorship - to help spread the word and the importance of cancer research, early detection and help assist in funding treatment for those less fortunate.  This was never the path I imagined for myself - but it was the path chosen for me!  I believe I am exactly where I need to be!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

3 MONTHS & 3 LETTERS!

(With Kylie in September - what a difference a few months make!)
This past week I did my 3 month check up since my last treatment.  I hold my breath every month I go for bloodwork, literally...I have found myself feeling like I can't breathe...and I realize...I'm not.  Great way to give yourself a panic attack.  As my friend Siri tells me.... "Dart, you need to Breathe!"   Yes, yes...you do.  But this month marked the 3 month journey from when I was initially told I was "NED".  Happy to say that over these crazy past 3 months...I'm still NED (No Evidence of Disease).

So in a week that I am trying to move out of my apartment, and I feel exhausted and I feel like there is too much to do and I'm falling down on the job of being a good friend - and fundraising - and being the person I want to be...I am reminded...You beat cancer!  This week is NOTHING!  I CAN DO ANYTHING!

The journey continues...life after cancer.  Thanks for coming along for the ride!

(With Kylie on New Years Eve - Welcome 2012)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome 2012!!!

Wishing all of my friends and family and blog followers near and far, a very Happy New Year!  Looking forward to new beginnings, positive energy and a year full of good health and happiness.  I am not making any resolutions this year...but my goal for 2012 is to be better & do better.  Physically, emotionally and spiritually!  Hoping you all find inspiration and hope with this clean slate and new year ahead!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tentmate Tales with Trudy & Tracy

A week doesn't go by that I don't run into or hang out with some of the girls from my 3 Day team - TEAM TRACY.  Inevitably we end up reminissing about our 3 days and 60 miles together.  My tentmate, Trudy, and I started recounting the events of this years Saturday night at camp which led into an unfortunate wake up call on Sunday morning.  We were howling laughing - and I was reminded I never shared the story here.  So here it goes.

Tracy & Trudy Seattle 3 Day 2010
Trudy and I have a running joke about tenting together, because in 2010, our first year as tentmates, Trudy made the mistake of slathering herself in IcyHot and then wearing footie pajamas to bed (see photo above).  Mind you - she was sleeping in a ThermaNest sleeping bag that she could have slept outdoors on the Artic Circle in...needless to say - she got a little warm.  Halfway through the night she was stripping down naked in the tent - and she said she was terrified I would wake up and wonder why she was naked in the middle of the night.  I slept right through it, none the wiser until I woke up and she said "you should probably know I'm naked in my sleeping bag".   Many jokes and hours of laughter over the incident ensued.  So the running joke every morning at camp is me asking "Trudy, do you have any clothes on?"

So this year, on Saturday evening we had to walk Trudy from the shower trucks where she took out her contacts, back to our tents.  She can't see a thing, so when we got in our tent and I realized there was an enormous mosquito flying around the top of our tent - she couldn't see it.  I tried standing up in the 2 man tent - on an air mattress - then chased the mosquito - with the only thing I could find to squish it with...my sock.  Thank God Trudy was blind and couldn't see this all go down...although I was nearly bouncing her off the air mattress and screaming as this mosquito was trying to fly in my face.  She just laid there giggling at me.  This is why we need boys on our team - to kill the bugs!

The rain started just as we went to bed, and it rained all night.  I knew we were going to wake up in a big mud puddle.  My alarm clock was set for 5 a.m., all the bugs were out and all that my post chemo/ overwalked body wanted to do was sleep.  About 4 a.m. I heard some commotion outside.  My first thought was - man, these people are overachievers - getting up at 4 a.m. to pack up their tents and get out on the route first.  Then I realized people were yelling and there seemed to be some sense of urgency coming from these peoples voices.  It was that moment I heard my teammate Samantha say, "Holy Crap the sprinklers are coming on...we have 10 minutes to get out of here".   WHAT?  The fine folks at Marymoor Park forgot to turn the sprinkler system off.  Apparently starting at about 3:15am the first set of sprinklers started going off at one end of the camp.  Quickly the 3 Day crew realized that they were going to go off across the park about every 15 minutes.  We had 10 minutes before our sprinklers were going to go off.

I quickly sat up - grabbed a flashlight...and this is how our conversation went:
Trudy:  You should probably know that I'm naked in my sleeping bag.
Tracy: You should probably know that the sprinklers are going off and we need to move our tent NOW.
Trudy: Are you $HITTING ME?

The next 30 minutes was utter chaos.  First, Trudy needed to put on some clothes.  I high tailed it out of the tent.  Mind you, after walking and then sleeping on the ground 2 nights in a row, trying to high tail it anywhere is next to impossible.  Trudy helped shove me out the door of the tent - flip flops were the only reasonably easy shoe to put on.  Crew members were yelling to us that we didn't have time to tear down our tents...we needed to drag them across the park to a sprinkler free area.

Remember - Trudy is now clothed, but can't see.  My right arm and hand, because of my lymphedema was all tingly and I could barely feel it.  We decide to grab the sides of the tent and try to drag it as best we could.  I'm virtually no help at this point - accept to give Trudy directions and to try not to run over or into anyone else.  We finally get to the Gear Truck area...now we need to pack up and try to find everything we need for the day.  I am still in the sweatpants I slept in and my Team Tracy sweatshirt...my feet are completely covered in grass and mud, and everything - and I mean EVERYTHING was soaking wet.  Just as we were repacking our bags, rolling up our sleeping bags - a sprinkler goes off in the middle of the gear truck area.  This apparent "sprinkler free" zone...was not sprinkler free.  People were diving into their tents trying not to get hit by the sprinklers...luggage waiting to be loaded on the truck was getting drenched...crew members were running across the park with a table from the dining tent to throw over the sprinkler.

I'm not sure I've EVER woke up having to move that quickly, in that much pain and being that cold and wet.  All I could imagine was my doctor looking at me and saying "THIS is why I didn't want you doing the 3 Day - 3 Days after your last chemo treatment".  Oops!

We dragged our belongings with us into the dining tent - trying to make sure we had everything we needed.  The medical tent had to be set up in the dining tent, the place literally looked like a refugee camp or some kind of pink version of the MASH 4077. The rain kept coming down and crew members were handing out rain ponchos.  I am still in the clothes I slept in...so I decided to just wear my sweatpants I had slept in, except they were soaking wet at the bottoms...so the only reasonable thing to do would be to cut them off at the bottom.  My teammate Eleni grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting...when she was done I stood up and look at the bottoms, all jagged and uneven.  Our team decided I looked like a pirate.  Nevermind, I didn't care at this point.

We loaded onto school busses which were going to take us to the University of Washington to the start of the Day 3 route.  I was lucky enough to sit next to a young lady who was from Neah Bay and was walking for her Senior project.  She asked me some really awesome, thoughtful questions about cancer and the 3 day walk.  I was lucky enough to see her when I walked into Holding at the end of the day and  she asked if she could take a picture with me and use it in her slide show for her Senior Project.  I told her I would be honored.  So, we all trotted off the bus...feeling like we had already been through a war that morning...but ready to take on the last 20 miles.

If cancer and chemo weren't going to stop me - nor was some rain and sprinklers!
THANK YOU TRUDY, not for just being an awesome tentmate - but for being by my side and a friend through this whole process.  I know you would do anything for me - including drag our tent across a field by yourself!  LOVE YOU!

Tracy & Trudy Seattle 3 Day 2011