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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Just when you think you’re in control…

I just ordered a bunch of these from the Breast Cancer Action group

The most evil thing about chemo isn’t the illness it induces, I’ve decided. It’s that it’s some evil alter ego living inside one’s body that, just when you think you’ve mastered it, knocks you up side the head in some unexpected fashion. Take that, you smug cancer sufferer, it seems to say.

As you might have read a few days ago, I was all pleased with myself that I had managed to avoid the kind of “I want to die” gut-wrenching nausea that usually accompanies my rounds of chemo this go-round. I did it by getting dead cells out with a detox (chemo kills fast-growing cells, and dead cells cause toxicity in the body, my veterinarian told me as we were discussing things on Sunday. She compared it to distemper in a dog, in case you really want to know how I have felt).

Well, nausea is one thing, but other issues arose, namely dehydration. Of course it’s hot and dry here in freakin Fresno. And for some reason over the weekend water did not taste good to me. I thought I was drinking enough, but with chemo enough is never enough. I drink constantly, but on Sunday I drank less. Still it was more than you probably drink on any given day. Drinking water is a fulltime job.

Then on Sunday I fainted and couldn’t move off the sofa. Monday I felt even weaker, unable to lift my head. A neighbor sent over a blood pressure cuff. We couldn’t even get it to register. Who knew dehydration causes a dangerous drop in blood pressure? Damn you to hell chemo.

So IV fluids and water, water, water. Another detox, reflexology and a new energy bracelet courtesy of Lynn. By last night I could enjoy a wonderful dinner with friends Carol and Roseanne, my mom and wonderful Michelle, who whipped up something delicious with eggplant and tomatoes from the garden. It was my first real meal in days (30 pounds and not counting).

Today I awoke at 6, put on my running shoes and walked nearly 1½ miles. A miracle considering I couldn’t even hold my head up yesterday.

So evil chemo, I will never ever think again that I have gotten the best of you, figured you out, or found a way to take you lightly.

And today I sit here happy to be writing, sitting upright, hearing the birds chirp as I admire the laundry I have just hung out to dry. Life is good again.

6 Responses to “Just when you think you’re in control…”

  • alejandro:

    You may already know this so forgive me if that is the case. Hydrating is not just drinking water; one needs to have a sufficient amount of electrolytes otherwise TOO much water will lead to hyponatremia… and you don’t want that either.

  • Gwen:


  • John Hubner:

    Hi Tracie
    You’ve probably had 999 health suggestions, so here’s 1000. There’s a Tibetan healer in the Mission whose treatment is based on hydration. He uses puerh tea. It’s an ancient tea from yunan that you make in the morning and drink all day long. It’s really quite good, even, I’d think, in hot Fresno.
    Anyway, glad you are through the distemper/nausea.

  • suzann ball:

    Tracie – your goal was a short walk and you went 1 1/2 miles – YAY!

  • Maria:

    hey Tracie!

    You may want to try Coconut Juice. it has plenty of electrolytes without the sugar and it is natural! Try that…they sell them at Whole Food (if you have one nearby).

    You go girl!!! You are on your way :)

  • Beth:

    You continue to amaze me and bring about good endings to bad stories. I was so worried after hearing especially that you had feinted, and your blood pressure was so low. I should have known better than to worry. You rebound with an amazing amount of strength. LOL! You did then, you do now, and you always will. No matter how worried you or others get, keep that positive never say never attitude. We both know it takes that to truly be a champion. Which is what you are. You are my champion and I thank you for including me and everyone else on your championship run! God Bless You Tracie!

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