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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Making My Comeback

With the pain and horror behind me, I’ve been working on getting “me” back. Whatever that means now.

It won’t be the old me. The stressed, lazy me. The hair-dying, non-label reading me.

The new me is a work in progress.

For one, the new me is happy. I no longer wait for the day that something great is going to happen, but find something great in every day. Even if it simply means I feel good.

When a person has been sick or in excruciating pain for nine months, getting up in the morning without it is a joyous occasion. Every day is a reason to celebrate.

Research shows that exercise reduces the risk of cancer, so I do it every day. I walk the dogs. Sometimes I feel really good and go to the gym, where I either walk on the treadmill or (on a really good day) go to spin class.

I try to lift weights afterward. My chest has suffered severe trauma, so restoring flexibility and strength is a challenge.

My gut, which used to hide from my view under my boobs, sticks out more than I would like, so I’m trying to lose it. My body shape is still strange to me, but I’m not longing yet for reconstructive surgery. I might just get used to not having to wear a bra!

Progress is slow, but it is coming – I learned that yesterday at Stanford when I got Herceptin.

Herceptin is one of the many drugs I’ve been on that can cause a loss in heart function. Lapatinib is another. And of course chemo.

Because of the danger, the FDA requires that patients on the drugs submit to echocardiograms every three months. They measure how much blood one’s heart pumps out of the muscle with each beat. (It’s never 100 percent, btw, or you’d have an empty heart, but 60 percent is ideal, I’m told. My baseline before treatment ranged between 55 and 57. It if had dropped below 50, treatment would have stopped.)

The fear of losing heart function and being forced off my lifesaving drugs is what inspired me to get up and walk when I was on chemo, even if it was just to the mailbox and back. It’s what motivates me to get up in the morning and walk my four miles. It gets me on the bike at spin class.

Keeping my heart healthy keeps me on the drugs that keep my cancer at bay.

So I got results yesterday from my last echocardiogram. My heart function actually GOT BETTER!!!! I’m now at 60 percent.

It’s an incredible development. My heart is getting stronger on drugs with the potential to make it weaker.

It’s why I know I’m going to kick this. And why the new me is going to be healthier than the old me.

6 Responses to “Making My Comeback”

  • Elaine Hoover:

    Keep up the great work, Tracie!

  • alejandro:

    You go T!

  • Bryan:

    Warrior Tracie. Fabulous.

  • Rachael:

    Just happened across your site and wanted to thank you for taking the time to document your journey. I’m a 38 mother of 3 (girls) diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer in Aug. 2010. I’m only 2 sessions away from finishing up my chemo and then I’ll get to start my comeback as well. I to am in a clinical trial – my arm of the study is related to Lapatinib without Herceptin. I hope that by women participating in these clinical trials we pave the way so the next generation (my girls) will hopefully never have to fight this battle or if they are faced with it have the best course of treatment. Its not like me to reply to something but I just related so much to your words that I really wanted to take the time to wish you the best in getting back to the ‘new you’ & to thank you for what you are doing to make a difference. I dream of the day that I have what I call my ‘new normal’ reading your post have been an inspiration and a reminder that its not to far away. Thanks again!

  • arlene:

    Hey! good to hear about the 60% and the new YOU ! Keep up the good work! We have been walking in the mall when it is cold. The mall is warm and toasty. We walk early when there are very few people and find it easy on a cold morning….
    Go for the gold!
    Cheers and love,
    Arlene and Clara

  • Lily:

    We are all so proud of you!!! I knew you would be kicking butt!!!

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