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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Hang on! Here we go again

The ride begins. It’s weird sitting here knowing I’m being seized by the twin chemical demons Adriamycin and Cytoxan on a search-and-destroy mission in my veins. They’re killing fast-growing cells, and not just cancer. People who withstand two types of chemo at once are super human, in my book, with a strong will to live.

Cytoxan, which is clear, seems relatively benign hanging overhead in its plastic pouch. But Adriamycin is some kind of super, evil chemo. First, it’s red. Screaming bright red. It comes in giant syringes maybe 1½ inches wide and 5 inches long. There are two of them. Adriamycin is why I had to have a baseline echocardiogram.

The Stanford nurses wear what looks like hazmat suits over their uniforms when they handle it, and it takes two nurses to verify it’s the right drug. They ask me my name and date of birth for each tube. Then I have to read the tubes to make sure it’s correct. And then the stuff they can’t touch goes into my jugular. Freaky. This week it was nurse Rachel who gently pushed it by hand, watching for any kind of problem should Adriamycin leak outside of a vein. I patted the tubes and ordered the chemo to fight hard.

Cheering on the Adriamycin. Tomorrow no hair

I imagine the chemo molecules like little pac men gobbling fast-growing cells indiscriminately. Cancer, for sure, because late at night when I have the most in my system I can feel the tumors aching. But all of the other fast growers die too: my eyelashes are gone, hair, skin, nails, mouth, esophagus and the entire route to the end. I become super-sensitive to touch, smell and hearing. By Friday everything is swimming and I fall apart. That’s why I’m shaving my head Thursday before it falls out Sunday. I think my scalp will hurt less without hair poking into it.

I know I can do this because I know what my reward is. Already my health team says my tumors are changing, pulling free of the flesh and exhibiting mobility. That means smaller.

With all of this love from all of you who are reading this, the support from Michelle, the changes I’ve made to support my body through this, and the BEST team of breast cancer health professionals in the US, I cannot fail.

So I need your support to keep my attitude positive, especially in the throes of the nightmare this weekend. So when I’m awake at 3 a.m. feeling like I can’t make myself go through Round 3, remind me of Tuesday, they day I learned my tumors shrunk.

7 Responses to “Hang on! Here we go again”

  • Seana Hogan:

    I have big tears in my eyes as I think about your dreadful anticipation. I pray for you almost daily Tracie; I pray for your strength, I pray for your positive attitude, I pray for your family and friends’ love and support, I pray for Michelle. Keep up the fight…you WILL defeat this!

  • Larry Humrick:

    Tracie,
    I went to sleep last night envisioning your tumors shrinking. Today I awoke, read “Here we go again” and am with you with in prayer and meditation. You are perfect and I’m sending you light and love. I am with you.
    Larry

  • ELAINE:

    You can count on your team, Tracie. We love you.

  • Gwen:

    Tracie,
    First of all I want you to know that I don’t ‘casually’ tell people I am praying….I mean what I say…so when I tell you I’m praying every time a thought of you passes me,which is daily….many times some days, I say a prayer for peace, help with fear, anxiety, pain, and sickness, and for all your caregivers. Also for Becky, Terri, Paige and Kelli. I’m amping up for the end of this week.

    YOU CAN DO THIS! It is working. Hang in there:)

  • mandy:

    Tracie,
    Hello I’m Mandy “Jared’s sister” I wanted you to know you are in my thoughts often and I’m praying for you. You are so loved by all of your sweet family. Your gonna beat this Tracie… I can’t wait to meet you some day!

  • Fran:

    When you’re awake at 3 a.m. feeling like you can’t make yourself go through Round 3…. CALL ME!!!!!

  • You know, Tracie … Lady Gaga has some awesome wigs to choose from: http://buy.ladygagawig.com/

    I think you’d be kinda cute as a blonde, no?

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