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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Betting on Me

A couple of Facebook friends have statuses today that I’ve seen variations of before. It starts out “Most people have a 1,000 Christmas wishes, a cancer patient has only one – to get better.”

And it’s so true. We could not endure the ravages of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and the side effects of multiple targeted drugs if we didn’t want to get better – to eradicate the disease that takes over our lives.

But how does one ever know for sure if all of those wretched treatments are working? Cancer, for all of the studies being done and articles that are written, is still an enigma.

So it all comes down to educated guesses, both in terms of what is most likely to work and what are the chances that, when treatment is over, it did work and hidden cancer cells won’t join up to form tumors elsewhere.

So it is with all of this in mind that I sought to press Dr. Carlson, my world-renown oncologist at Stanford, to offer me hope yesterday. Hope that as my Year of C draws to an end, all of my fighting, suffering and near-death experiences have not been for naught.

Dr. Carlson is a genius, meticulous in his care and conservative in his remarks. I get the feeling oncologists don’t want patients coming back in two years saying “But you told me I’d be fine!”

So I prepared for my discussion with him during my appointment by first running it by his Fellow, Dr. Hong.

“This is the last time I will see Dr. Carlson before the New Year and I need for him to be hopeful today. I’d like for him to assess my response to the treatment, think about all of the others he has treated before whose cancers are like mine, and try to deduce by their experiences whether he thinks my cancer will come back again.”

She smiled.

A while later Dr. Carlson appeared, answered my questions about soy (moderation – and I eat only Non-genetically modified organic) the dentist (yes!) why Hercepetin for a year (because studies of two years showed no difference in shutting down the cancer-causing gene) and the hormone suppressor I will be on for five years.

Then I stopped, waiting for him to launch into his message of hope. Nothing.

“Did you tell him?” I asked the Fellow. Yes.

Still nothing. Then I launched back into my spiel as he smiled.

“You’re going to be fine,” he began.

“But if you were a betting man, would you bet it will return or not return?” I asked.

Then he opened up. He told me he really believes that breast cancer will not be what ends my time on this earth.

“I would bet that it does not return,” he finally said, answering my question. “I would bet on you.”

All I wanted for Christmas was hope.

After all of these long, agonizing months, my wish has come true.

3 Responses to “Betting on Me”

  • Elaine Hoover:

    Dr. Carlson has given the gift that means the most to all of us…the gift of you!
    You have worked so very hard along with the doctors and nurses to make Tracie’s Healthy Body a reality.
    I admire your strength and courage.

  • Leslee Hamilton:


    Here’s to a very healthy and happy 2011 !!!

  • brenda:

    That’s so awesome tracie!!

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