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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Oh The People One Meets

What are the chances there would be only two people today at Fresno Yosemite International Airport watching loved ones endure TSA screening? And both were our white-haired mothers who had asked for airport wheelchair transportation.

What are the chances that both of us would be battling cancer? Both breast cancer? And both the rare and aggressive form, HER2 positive?

As regular readers of this blog know, I long ago stopped believing in coincidences and have started to see each encounter I have as part of the grand plan for me.

I met Marsha as my mom went through the TSA metal detector. I told Marsha that I had warned mom to avoid the radiation body scanner and opt for the pat down.

“Does she have cancer, too?” were her first words to me.

Takes one to know one. But it launched a conversation that lasted to the parking lot and my exit to make my radiation appointment.

Marsha, unfortunately, wasn’t diagnosed until her breast cancer had reached Stage IV, which she told me meant un-curable. But not unmanageable.

Marsha has been on Herceptin for four years. It has stopped the progression of her disease at her liver. I’ve seen that referred to as “progression remission.” It doesn’t get better, but it doesn’t get worse. People live for years like this.

I’ve just started Herceptin, which I’ll be on for a year. It’s the key to my healthy future and, dare I say? My cure. Meeting Marsha and hearing about her success was no coincidence. Those kinds of encounters keep reinforcing in my psyche that I am beating this disease. That everything my doctors are doing for me works.

By the way, this is how I answered Marsha’s question.

“No, she used to. And so did I.”

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