Tracie Cone has always been a trailblazer. This award-winning journalist is the former California Newspaper Executive of the Year. She shares a Pulitzer Prize with fellow staff members at the Miami Herald for coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and has twice been nominated individually. She has focused her writing on helping the underdog and empowering those without a strong voice of their own. Now she takes us on the fight of her life.
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Back Where It Started

The guy in the back with his hand up gave me the biggest hug when he learned I HAD cancer. The rest of the guys invited us behind the bar for a photo in the little town of Tequila. Lots of love here.

I just spent a week in Jalisco, Mexico reenacting the last good time I had before my shocking breast cancer diagnosis. I was surprised at how emotional the trip was for me.

Last spring I bonded with a group of people on a tour of premium tequila distilleries. Because I was a stranger to the word “moderation,” my zest for fun and good tequila made it seem even more shocking to my new friends when, two weeks later, I learned I had a very aggressive form of breast cancer.

Of course I stopped drinking immediately, preparing my liver for chemo and other drugs. As the year of my confinement to bed and the sofa wore on, I often daydreamed about my last fun time – wondering if it would be my last, hoping and praying that I would feel good enough by the next trip to go again. All while I was feeling like I would never be able to walk to the mailbox, much yet travel in a foreign country.

Along the way my new tequila buddies visited and sent encouraging emails of support. A few even started a drive that landed me several bottles of a no-longer-produced tequila from one of my favorite distillers, Casa Noble. They were designed to be my incentive to get better so that one day I could enjoy my favorite beverage, albeit in much smaller amounts.

My tequila buddies were just part of a large group of friends and family who have pulled me through this long ordeal. I could hardly wait to see them again in part for the friendships, and in part because it would mark the end of a very long year.

The trip was a success. I took a book anticipating I would spend much of the time resting on the bus since the trip was the first time I had been out of bed all day. I was weepy at times, but their enthusiasm and encouragement kept me going, especially when I was dragging on the second half of the trip.

I learned a lot on the journey, but mostly I learned that there is a universal distain for cancer. The word translates into Spanish exactly. When people called me “senor,” confused by my short hair, I responded with my new phrase “Tuve cancer.” I HAD cancer. Their beautiful responses moved me. I got so many hugs from people I don’t know that I quit counting.

So today I am home suffering, bone weary and exhausted from trying to do too much. But I am happy for so many reasons: I survived the year, and I was reminded that love and support transcend distance, time and even language barriers.

4 Responses to “Back Where It Started”

  • arlene:

    Cheers, Tracie
    YOU are truly lovely!

  • Lily:

    Tracie…You have never lost that zest for life even with this road bump in life & we all love you for truly being YOU!! Kick butt!!

  • Ryan:

    It seems that you always bring a smile to my face. Checking in with ya. Enjoy. I know you will

  • Dave Yan:

    I read your blog very often, but always struggle about leaving a message. Not today, because I really want to make sure you know what a big blessing you are for many of us, and how much you are loved, Tracie :)

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