Monday, May 03, 2010

Happy 25th Life-iversary to Me!

Today is May 3rd. I can never forget this day. In some ways it's more important than my birthday. Life as I knew it changed on May 3rd, 1985. Twenty five years ago, on this day, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

My life leading up to that day was fairly ordinary. I was the youngest of five children in a family that was pretty self absorbed. My mom raised us all solo. I only saw my dad once a year when he was passing through to see his mates and occasionally if there was time, he'd take me out for breakfast at a dingy old diner where we'd have greasy fried eggs and chips. My dad was my hero despite how little I saw him.   I had a free and easy childhood with very few rules or boundaries. I was virtually invisible. I could do what I wanted. I came and went as I pleased. No one seemed to notice if I wasn't around.  I never got asked where I was or who I was with.  I had an open curfew from quite a young age.

Then on May 3rd, life changed forever.  I went from being invisible, thrust into the spotlight.  I'll never forget that day or the 18 months that followed.

 I had been suffering from stomach pains for years which had progressively gotten worse.  They were particularly bad at night, waking me up.  I was also a bed wetter.  I didn't want to trouble anyone by waking them so I'd quietly sneak into my mom's room and lie at the end of her water bed on my tummy.  The warmth of the water bed soothed my pain.  I tried hard not to wet my mom's bed but it was almost impossible.   I struggled to eat breakfast, I felt sick and I felt full,. My mom took me to the doctor a lot, at least 3 times a month, but the doctor said I had growing pains and a school phobia, which didn't make any sense because I absolutely loved school.  She said bed wetting was a sign I needed more attention.  My doctor never palpated my abdomen.  This went on for months.

On May 1st I was in school doubled over with pain.  As the class lined up to go to gym,  I couldn't get out of my seat, the pain in my stomach was so intense. My teacher, Mrs. Labelle rang my mother. We went straight to the doctor who happened to be away that day so we saw another doctor. He thought it might be appendicitis and told us to go straight to the hospital.

The pain was intermittent so one moment I'd be doubled over, the next I'd feel fine.  My stomach was so distended, I looked pregnant.  I felt guilty but I didn't know why.  I heard the nurses whispering and called my mother over to ask a few questions before sending me in for an x-ray. The way they looked at me made me think I had done something bad. I wanted to cry. No one knew about the older neighbourhood boys who forced me to do naughty things to them when I was a little girl. My mom asked me if I had been fooling around with any little boys.  I was horrified!  I was pre-pubescent and I didn't have a clue how babies were made.

X-rays showed a large mass in my abdomen. That night my mother and I took the overnight train from my hometown of Hanmer, Ontario to Toronto where I would be admitted to the Hospital for Sick Children for immediate surgery.  It was a 6 hour journey one way.

Me and my cousin Karin an hour before surgery
What an adventure! I was so excited. I got to travel on an overnight train. I got to skip school, indefinitely! I got to go to Toronto and my brothers and sisters had to stay home! I got to see my awesome cousins (that's a photo of me with my cousin Karin just before I was prepped for surgery) and stay with my Auntie Debbie in the big city! I got to go to this really cool hospital where the doctors and nurses actually talked to ME and made me feel like I was important! It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life.  Of course at this point no one had any idea how sick I was.

We arrived in Toronto in the wee hours of the morning, it was pouring down with rain. My mother was advised to pack for a reasonable period of time so we had 4 big bags (back in the day before wheels on suitcases). My mother knew very little about Toronto, much less about how to catch a cab.  She asked someone to point us in the right direction and we walked from Union Station to Sick Children's Hospital. It was a very long walk and my tummy really started to hurt.  I had to walk a few steps, put the bags down to rest. I started to cry and told my mom I wanted to stop.  She just kept walking saying, "It's just one more block."  We were both exhausted.

There was queue of families lined up out the admission entrance.  It was fascinating to watch all these sick kids.  I felt very privileged to be there.  A few hours later, I was in a meeting with my team of surgeons.  They all talked about stuff I didn't understand and arrangements were made that I'd be prepped for surgery early the next morning - on May 3rd, 1985.  I didn't fully understand what was happening but I definitely felt important because for the first time adults were talking directly to me and being super nice.

I went into surgery feeling euphoric - my first hit of laughing gas. My attending surgeon's name was Dr. Zultz. He was young, handsome and funny. I thought we were the perfect team - Pepper & Zultz. As the anesthesiologist started to put me under I remember telling jokes and had all the doctors and nurses laughing.

After surgery with all the flowers and gifts people sent to me in hospital.
My mother's experience was much different. She waited in the family waiting area as I underwent surgery. Families were gathered together waiting for news of their children. My mother sat alone. She recalled the date. Thirty years earlier, on May 2nd her own mother passed away from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 42. My mother was only 8 years old at the time. She prayed that her mother would keep me safe. One hour went by. Doctors came through the door and she sat, expectant that her turn was next. Two hours passed. The room was quiet.  Finally she was the last person left, the doors opened and two doctors walked through still wearing their surgical gear. Their gowns were speckled with blood. She recognized them as my surgeons. Dr. Zultz motioned her to a quiet corner where they could sit down. She looked at them expectantly. "I'm sorry, it's definitely cancer. The tumour was quite large and aggressive, it was twisted around other organs but we managed to remove it. She was a real trooper." My mother asked, "How big?" Dr. Zultz threw his surgical cap on the table, "About that big" the size of a football. It weighed 2.2kgs.

A series of questions were asked... what type of cancer? What is the prognosis? It was all very vague at that stage. I had stage 3 ovarian cancer. I was born with it - it was a very rare germ cell tumour also known as a yolk sac carcinoma or an "endo dermal sinus tumour". Something didn't develop properly while I was in utero and I had an ovarian dermoid cyst which left undiagnosed developed into cancer.  This type of cancer develops in the egg producing cells of the ovary.  The rareness of the type of cancer meant that the diagnosis was poor. At the time, there were only 19 diagnosed cases (I was the 20th) and no survivors.  I was not expected to survive the week.

Clowns visited and painted my face.
However, there was hope. Chemo drugs had just been approved by the Canadian Drug Association which had not yet been tested on humans. My mom was given the option that I be used in a clinical trial to test these drugs. Trialing the drugs increased my chance of survival by 30% but the side effects could be fatal. Some of the side effects were; kidney damage, lung damage, hearing loss, seizures, memory loss, liver damage, tremors, depression, brain damage, nerve damage, heart failure, death. Long term side effects were virtually unknown. Without treatment, the cancer would spread rapidly as the tumour had metastasized and there was evidence that it was already in my lymphatic system and liver.  It was a long shot but at least I could be used to find the cure for other ovarian cancer patients.  My mother agreed and she donated me to science.

I was in the surgical recovery ward.  I loved that place. I was so happy in there, eating popsicles and doing crafts.  I still had no idea how sick I was and for that reason I didn't really act sick.  I felt better than I had in years.

Forcing a smile for the camera with my new Cabbage Patch Doll - a gift from my school.
I started my rounds of chemo two weeks after surgery. I cannot even begin to explain how awful chemotherapy was. Back in those days all chemo was administered through IV needles directly in veins in my arms. I would trial up to 4 different drugs at a time for a whole week, which meant I'd have 2 needles in each arm and my arms would be strapped to boards to prevent the needles from being pulled out when I was sleeping. That was tough. I was very good at putting on a smile because it made me uncomfortable if someone started to cry or feel sorry for me.

At the airport ready to get back to school to see my friends.
After a month in hospital, I was discharged to go home. I got a nice stylish pixie cut, hoping that it would help prevent it from falling out in clumps. I was so excited to get back to school and see my friends. I brought a big bag full of candy to share with my classroom (my Aunt worked for a major candy company at the time).

It wasn't long before my hair started to fall out. There would be piles of hair around my desk at the end of the day and I'd wake up in the morning with clumps of hair on my pillow. One day I went to school with a little page cap and didn't take it off.  That was weird and the kids couldn't understand why I was allowed to wear a hat in class. Suddenly, I became invisible. They just didn't know what to say, so they acted like I wasn't there. If I wasn't invisible, I was teased. Those were tough times. All I wanted in the whole world was to feel "normal" with my friends.  I would act as normal as possible.  I participated in sports when I could.  I went to school whenever I could.  I did my homework and kept up my grades. I didn't slip in my studies and although I missed almost half the year, they didn't hold me back.  I certainly didn't act sick.  Cancer was a huge inconvenience so I pretended it wasn't there.  I used to get frequent nose bleeds which I would deny and hide from my mom.  I knew nose bleeds weren't a good sign and I wouldn't be allowed to go to school.  So I dealt with them in my own way. This is when I taught myself meditation.  I could do anything with my mind... include kill cancer cells.  It was like a mental Pac Man game.

After my second chemo, the veins in my arms and hands collapsed. They tried any vein they could find but I fought them off.  I was pretty feisty.  I could not stand the thought of needles in my feet.  My little body couldn't handle the strength of the chemo. It left burn marks up my arms from where it literally fried my skin. I can still remember the metallic taste as the drugs entered my body. I was selected to be the first recipient of a new gadget called an "infuse-a-port" which would forever change the way chemotherapy is administered. The gadget is inserted under the collarbone on the front of the chest through a minor surgical operation. It feeds the chemotherapy directly into the jugular and carotid artery and the best part about it - only a single needle for all chemos!  My arms were free and that made the world of difference.  The infuse-a-port (now known as a port-a-cath) wasn't supposed to hurt but it did.  They scraped the nerves away from under the skin but my nerves regenerated quickly. This was also all in the name of science experimentation.  They did things differently after that.  My scar is higher under the collar bone than those after me.  There wasn't much fatty tissue there which might explain the sensitivity.  Now they install the port-a-cath lower in the chest.

 I was to receive six cycles of chemo, with each cycle lasting a week.  I'd be given a rest between cycles for 3-4 weeks where I would travel back home and try to resume a normal life.  Occasionally we'd fly down to Toronto for my course of chemo, only to be sent home because my blood counts were too low and it would be too risky having treatment.  This dragged my chemo out over 18 months.  

Toward the end of my treatment, I distinctly recall feeling isolated and alone.  People stopped visiting while I was on treatment. I was moved to a quiet ward and shared rooms with the sickest kids kids who died.  Every week I lost a new friend.  I was no longer allowed to go to school when I was home between treatments. I couldn't have friends over... not that my friends wanted to sleep over anymore anyway. I was bald, skinny, grumpy, sick and I slept a lot. It wasn't fun and I wasn't all that pleasant to be around I was told.  There was no such thing as organizations like "Make a Wish Foundation" in those days.  My siblings got absolutely no support and that wasn't easy on them.  Our family was crumbling and I felt guilty about it.  My mom was never home and they were all expected to look after themselves.  It's no wonder they resented me.  Every time we'd go to hospital, they'd wonder if I'd come home.  They just wanted life to return to some kind of normal.  This affected my mom as well.   She had  very little support at that time, so she turned to alcohol for comfort.

Between chemos, spending time at my Grandparents in London doing my Aunt's hair and make up.
What I didn't realize (because no one told me) was that I was not responding to treatment. My alpha-fetoprotein levels were high indicating the cancer was in the liver.  Eighteen months passed, I completed the trial.  There was nothing more that they could do.  They told us to pray.  I believed in God and I knew I had a team of angels watching over me (including my grandmother Ann Catherine and Saint Therese). I "felt" them, I even had moments when I saw them and I always talked to them.  .

I had my last chemotherapy treatment at Sick Children's Hospital in November 1986. The nurses made me a big cake - which seemed odd, I couldn't eat any of it because it would make me throw up. It was their way of saying good-bye.  There were a lot of tears that day.  I didn't want to leave.  I was going to miss that place.  I felt more at home there than anywhere.

I was discharged from Sick Kids but was admitted straight into Laurentien Hospital in Sudbury.  I had no platelets, zero white blood cells and suffered severe anemia. I couldn't fight off an infection and if I was knocked I could bleed to death. I looked beyond pale... I was grey. Ten days later, they sent me home (to die).

I slept in my mother's water bed for three days in a cancer coma. My brothers and sisters had all moved out of home. My mom would come in to check on me just to make sure I was still alive. My breathing was so shallow that she'd have to hold a mirror under my nose to see if my breath would fog it up. She said I looked like a corpse. She called Sister Fredrika and Father Tait over to give me a final blessing. They lived in the house across the road.  Sister Fredrika was called on a lot that year, often in the middle of the night when I was having some sort of reaction.

My mom decided to get into the garden to do some therapeutic weeding. She was angry, frustrated, sad and felt all alone. She was so angry at God for turning his back on us.  As she ripped out the flowers and prepared the beds for winter, she thought of the rose bush that my dad planted under my bedroom window the year I was born. I was named after Saint Therese - the little flower - who sent roses from heaven. I wore her pendent around my neck and I prayed to her all the time. The rose bush had never flowered, my mother decided it was time to take it out.

When she walked to the front of the house where the bush was planted, there was one single rose blooming.  She knew instantly it was the sign she was waiting for.  It gave her an immediate sense of peace. She cut the rose from the bush and placed it on my bedside table. I opened my eyes and was feeling very hungry.  I asked mom if she would make me my favourite - broccoli and rice.  As she walked out I asked her curiously, "Mom, am I going to die?"  She simply said, "No."   From there, I started getting better.

I believe in the power of the mind.  I believe that when our mind is strong, you can achieve absolutely anything.  I believed anything my mother told me, so if she said I wasn't going to die, then I wasn't going to die.  That was that.  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired so I ate my broccoli and rice and I started getting back to normal.  I was itching to get to school and grow some hair!

I am often asked whether people should hide the "truth" from children.  What is the truth?  Who says that dying is the truth for any cancer patient?  I believe that suggesting death is planting a toxic seed in the mind.  Once that seed has been planted, there is a very good chance it will grow.  Of course, it depends on the fertility of the soil and on how much water it's given.  Without encouragement of growth, that seed can just shrivel and die but it's risky.  All you have to do is think about the seed and it's giving it life.  In my case, my mother chose not to sow the seed at all.  I'm incredibly grateful for that.  I didn't have to try to avoid negative thoughts about dying because I had no idea it was an option.

The doctors say it's a miracle. There's no scientific answer. When I had a biopsy, my body showed absolutely no sign of cancer. The surgeon told my mother that if she had not done the initial surgery, she would never believe I was the same child.

I'm humbled by my experience and I try to give back as much as possible because I know that my life is a gift and I mustn't waste it.  I paved the way for Ovarian Cancer. The chemotherapy combinations I trialed are now used worldwide to cure women and children from the disease. Ovarian cancer is becoming more common - likely due to the effects of pollution and chemicals in our environment. Endodermal sinus tumours are the most common type of ovarian cancer in children today - but now the prognosis is good.  They know which drugs work.  Ovarian Cancer is the most fatal women’s cancer, there is no screening test for the disease. Signs and symptoms can be vague and often ovarian cancer is detected in late stages leading to survival rates of less that 30%. Yet, when found and treated early, survival rates increase to 90%. 

This experience has enriched my life so much and allowed me to mentor many young people who were dying from cancer themselves... like Krista who died in 1992 and Sally who died this past February. I was there to  comfort their families and I was with the girls right through to their deaths.  I got to know hundreds of others through camps like Camp Oochigeas and CanTeen. If that's not what it's all about, then I don't know what is.

When I work with these kids I am reminded of how lucky I am to be alive, and not just alive but virtually unscathed.  So many kids and young adults I've met have disabilities from the result of their chemo, hearing loss, severe depression and learning disabilities are all very common.  I can't have children but that just means I'm able to give my time to hundreds of them. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in my mid twenties.  The tests showed that my organs were functioning like someone in their 50's. I've lived much longer than they expected. I am grateful for the life I have, in whatever state it comes. I look after myself by eating well, exercising and avoiding stress.  This is one of the main reasons I moved to New Zealand - in search of a simple life.  Earlier that same year, in the summer of 2003, I had had a heart to heart talk with my childhood Oncologist after being diagnosed with Essential Hypertension.  I was having inexplicable malignant flare ups (BP was 210/170) which scared me to death.  He will always be the man who saved my life, he's like a father to me.  I'll never forget what he said.  "Live your life to it's absolute fullest, because you never know when it's going to end.  And get life insurance."

I took his advice and here I am, living my life to it's fullest and experiencing everything I possibly can by saying YES to everything that presents itself. I walked away from a life of material possessions, where you measure your success by the things you have, not by the life you live or the sort of person you are.  I wasn't a happy person in Canada.  I had everything I possibly wanted, I was spoiled and it was evident.  I was moody and bitchy and very restless.  I wanted out of that cycle.  I knew I needed to change, so I did.  I came to New Zealand with virtually nothing but an old sick cat (who got diabetes shortly after we arrived).  I started my life all over again at the age of 30.  It wasn't easy but  I have no regrets.  I am so blessed to be here and live the kind of life I get to live.  I live in my happy bubble.

I managed to sort out my blood pressure.  You can read that amazing story here.

I will continue to provide support and offer words of hope. If anyone is out there reading this knows where I might be needed or an organization who needs a guest/motivational speaker, please don't hesitate to contact me. It's my life's mission to bring a message of hope when someone has been told there's none.


Kristina said...

You are amazing, know that? I always think of you and your inspiring story. I just finished reading this, just one hour after my dad was told by his oncologist that it is time to fulfill his final wishes, and to do it before summer. I hope that he too can find a miracle like you were so fortunate to have. You certainly have an angel looking out for you, I'm so glad you're the amazing, wonderful, giving person you are today. xoxo

brenda said...

I do remember some of your story, as we moved to Hanmer in 1985..the extent of it all I didn't know. Your mother did tell me you had cancer and I did watch your house and cat...I believe while you were in Toronto. I knew the family had come apart...sadly for all of you. I also knew you weren't expected to live. You are a true inspiration to all who crosses your path young lady. You are blessed! An angel amoung us! :) Life your life in peace and enjoy every moment...xoxo Brenda

James T said...

I have known you for a few years Tracy but only now do I really know you. Thanks for sharing it - although sharing is not a big enough word !

Anonymous said...


I knew some of the story but definitely not inspiring for everyone. The story fo the rose is incredible!! You should write a book! you write very well.
Thanks for sharing, take care

Pam Savary

Daz said...

A wonderful story of courage. Take care Tracy. Daz xx

jessicagv said...

A very inspiring story indeed. It is amazing how events like these can truly shape us.

Melanie. Delamorandiere said...

I've known you since we were kids, but I knew you not at all...I met you in passing in the earlier part of being at St.Annes Elementary School. I moved away in grade 2 and later moved back to Hanmer for grade 8. Where I had the pleasure of being reaquainted with you and many others. I remember you seemed fearless. You were full of zeal and life! Like nothing could stop you. And just a small dose of mischief! You seemed to have it all together. Or so I thought...
Your story moved me to tears. Tears for the lost child you were, tears for the pain you endured and tears of joy for your triumph and bravery over cancer. I too have been touched by cancer. My Uncle Bob and my mother, who was in the first stage of ovarian cancer when they caught hers, I believe I was 10 at the time. Scared and disbelieving. Because my mom was supposed to be invincible. It pull the rug out from under me. I lost the ability to get too close to ppl as I was afraid to lose them too. More recently, I lost my papa. He had cancer of the bladder (I don't know the technical terminology) which spread as it was the 2nd time around and he refused treatment. He was with us for almost 2 more years and I am happy to have gotten to say good-bye to him, to have made my peace with it. Made me realize even more, how precious time is. I am so very glad to have read your story. You are an inspiration to many and a friend to all.

Chi-miigwetch Tracy!

Sara M. said...

Tracy what an incredible story! You really are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story Tracy. I didn't know what you went through. My parents didn't tell me very much, maybe they didn't know much about how sick you were, I don't know. I still remember the day I found out you were sick, crying in my room because I thought you were going to die because I thought everybody who got cancer died, like my sister Danielle. I wish I would have understood and been there for you as a friend through it. I do remember when you came out of the hospital and we hung out and ate banana splits out of the little plastic bedpans or whatever they were lol.

Thanks so much for sharing this. I am so lucky to have you back in my life and have had this second chance to be friends
Love you

Anonymous said...

I vaguely remember these days. I do remember thinking you were a brave and strong little girl! And I remember that Cabbage Patch Doll!
There were days you would come over to my house and talk to my mom and I. Tracy I always thought you were cool!!


Anonymous said...

When I met you at Ooch I knew you were special - definitely NOT invisible. Thank you for being you and being so honest and sharing your story.

Anonymous said...


When we met doing the canyon what really struck me was how open, friendly and bubbly you are. You are the personification of living life to the full and I feel really privileged to have met you and now to have shared your story. You're amazing girl, keep smiling!


Anonymous said...

Miracles do happen! Thank you so much for telling your story. I will remember it everyday and share it with those that could do with a little faith, hope and a miracle!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Tracy
Happy 25th Life-iversary to you. What a truely amazing life you have had.. I am actually speechless and not even too sure what to say.. except Good on You for never giving up, always having the faith and being an up-lifting girl/woman. You are a true inspiration to all those (especially children) going through Cancer treatments. God Bless you Tracy Pepper.

Guy said...

I am at a loss for words when it comes to your incredible journey of life...but I am not at a loss of words for the AMAZING Human being that you are....

You are living proof, that we can overcome obstacles in our lives....FAITH, LOVE and HOPE...can carry your very far...what an amazing journey you've been a part of...and you are still willing to share yourself.... Truly a great example of what we should all be doing! Thanks Tracy for being YOU!

Guy said...

By the way...Guy is really Lise.....just I used his google case you were wondering who GUY is... (he's my partner in life)

Anonymous said...

What an amazing story. How courageous you have been. I think that your story will inspire cancer sufferers to believe in miracles. Your story is a very touching. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Tracy - your story is one I feel humbled to have been been let in to. You make my journey seem so insignificant. I have had a recurrance this year, and am currently on palliative chemotherapy. You give me hope, and courage to fight no matter what the odds. Take care, and I hope you get to enlighten many more lives with your love, acuity, insight, and courage.
Lve Tania M

Anonymous said...

My dear Tracy...There is a reason that the good Lord put you on this earth (earlier I thought it was to give me massages but maybe that wasn't the only reason). You have a way with words and a very special way with people...I believe putting your life into words will be very theraputic for you. Your story will shed alot of light on the side effects that cancer can have on the family. You go girl! Get writing...just make sure I get an autographed copy of the finished product. Love Cathy
P.S. Is my dad's sausage going to make the book????? Maybe this book could make us both millionaires! You for the writing and me, I'll be making alot of sausage once people find out how good it is!!!

Anonymous said...

You're an amazing woman. You have definitely inspired me. I'm glad I met you.

Anonymous said...

I did know some of your story told to us at Napier last year. Congratulations on our 25th anniversary. Bless you as you remain positive, wish to help others and keep smiling. I have enjoyed getting to know you a bit this past three years.
I found this quote; ' is never too late to have a happy childhood, but the second one is up to you and no one else'
... and I add this; 'May the longtime sun shine upon you, and the sweet light within you guide your way on'.
Warm good wishes, Judy

Anonymous said...

I didn't have the opportunity to get to know you even remotely well until we worked on our little video project in Grade 11 I think it was. I think a lot of that was due to the fact was that we hung around in different circles but what I find really interesting is that your good friends were my good friends but in different environments and at different stages in each of our lives.
I remember that at one point before we worked together in that English class, someone had described you to me as "the girl who had cancer as a kid" and I do remotely remember some discussion about yourself and a pregnancy. I'm really hoping that that didn't cause me to judge you at the time but to be honest, I can't remember. I just know that I knew that about you but don't know why I should have known that about you....I guess that's how kids can be.

And then we had our project. I remember being a bit nervous about coming to your house...perhaps it was due to the fact that I really didn't know you that well. Another reason was probably due to the fact that I was 'warned' about what state your mom may have been in as I was given the impression that you had to deal with an alcoholic mother at home. I don't remember much about that time and really can't remember how accurate that information was. I do remember having the impression that you pretty much ran that household and took care of your mother instead of the other way around and that made me very sad for you as I had never been exposed to that before. But I also got a feeling you were such a strong and fun loving person with an imagination like no other. I loved your wigs. I was so jealous that you had so many wigs.

And then shortly after, I believe you changed schools and we would bump into one another through our friends...perhaps at a grad party or two. And then Facebook came along, we matured and were able to bond because of the girls and my kids.

You've help myself and I'm sure many others just how small this world can be and I'm forever grateful.

Anonymous said...

Hello there dear friend!

So I read your blog last night....and WOW!!! I knew only the smallest fragment of that story. Reading it brought me to tears. Reading the truth about what you went through was incredible. You were completely honest, and almost raw, in your writing. I think you captured it all so wonderfully.
Initially I think I was crying because I felt sorry for you and how your family treated you. But then I sat on that thought, and realized that I am not sorry about it....because all of that, I believe, truly shaped who you are today. You are a survivor. You had to learn at a young age to rely on yourself, and make it through life with your own support. That is incredibly huge! I am not sure if I explained that well.....just don't think that I am happy that your family was not supportive. I can just now see better how you became the person you are...strong, independent, and loving.
As for the history of your cancer...that was amazing to read!! Against all you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an ordeal to go through at such a young age....again another testament to your strength and determination!
All I can say is congratulations on proving everyone wrong, for surviving what some would have called an unsurvivable situation, and most of all, for sharing that story and that part of your life with me!
I am sending you super BIG hugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hope you did some great celebrating deserve it!!
Love ya lots!!
Kelly xoxo

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!


Amanda said...

Dear Tracy,

My name is Amanda and I am 14 years old and I've been born and raised in your house on Morrie Crt. I find you truly inpiring and you are extremly lucky and I wish you the best. Before I learned about your story I had already donated my hair twice for cancer. I started crying once I found out that you had cancer, because I thought how weird it was that I donated my hair without even knowing about your story. I think it was mean't to be. If your ever in Hanmer, please do come and drop by I'd love to met you.

Amanda :)

Tracy said...

Dear Amanda,
Thank you for writing. I'm really happy to hear from you. I've stood in the driveway of your house a few times (when no one was home) and I almost knocked on the door once... but it was too hard. That was the house I grew up in and there are so many memories and I just didn't know if I could handle seeing it different! I wish I had and I promise the next time I'm in Hanmer, I'll stop by. I'll probably cry though!!!

I have some stories to tell you. I don't think it's an accident that you shaved your hair twice for cancer. :)

Please look me up on Facebook.


David Zanon said...

dear Tracy
what an inspired story I never knew. your story moved me to tears. if I can help I will and I will be following your journey. I too have had much cancer my life. my father died of lung cancer when I was 4 years old. and my mother of ovarian cancer when I was 28 years old. I believe she was the fifth longest survivor Ontario, at that time. wishing you all the best. I'm going to email you for more personal note. I would like to talk.