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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Round 2; A little good news and I’ll take it!

I’m lying in bed at Palo Alto’s Westin Hotel the morning after Round 2, which was difficult and emotional, and forced me to bed at 5 p.m. Despite all my positive thoughts going into it, my reality as we left Fresno was the dread of another week of chemo hell. The angst of the 3-hour drive lifted when we arrived at the Stanford Cancer Center. Time to get to work.

First order: check my white blood counts to see if I can receive chemo this week. I have a powerport surgically installed under my skin on my breastbone with a tube that leads through my jugular vein into the top lobe of my heart. They can stick a needle in it to both draw blood and drip in the chemo, but the drawing of the blood part wasn’t working. It took 3 hours of prodding, flushing and administering blood thinning drugs to get to work, during which time I was hyperventilating, my skin crawling over thoughts of this device in my body. The lack of a blood draw meant I had to visit my doctor without blood test results so she wouldn’t know for sure whether Round 2 would proceed.

My doctor, Robert Carlson, is at an oncology convention in Chicago, so I met with his capable assistant Katie (love her!). We talked about all of the problems last week with nausea and constipation and things I might be able to do on my own to ease them. She made a good point well taken that while some studies have shown that smoking marijuana eases nausea, the possibility of a lung fungal infection for someone like me with a compromised immune system would be horrendous. Nobody wants that.

Then on to the good news. She poked and proded my right breast, spend a good deal of time zeroed in on the two tumors while moving them around under my skin. She then pronounced “a change” in them. “A change as in better, smaller?” A change, she repeated. Not bigger. But before they were attached to the surrounding tissue and the fact they can move means they aren’t as big. And that means they are shrinking, which I thought I could felt one night in the throes of chemo hell when they were aching like crazy. I burst out crying happy tears.

We went ahead with Round 2 after the blood came back with my white cells strong, thanks to the $26,000 Neulasta shot I get the day after chemo (It’s why I’m still at Palo Alto the next day). I was in the capable hands of nurse Rhonda, though it’s very disconcerting to have something injected into my heart by someone wearing a hazmat suit!
During the process I got a visit from Murial, my nurse from last week, who stopped by for a fist bump after she heard the good news about the shrinkage.

This week I will continue to become weaker, and this is the week my hair falls out, so I’m going to beat it to the punch by shaving it on Thursday, my last upright day for a while as chemo digs in to work its evil magic. Check back for that video.

Despite all of the physical discomfort I must endure and all of the positive life changes I’ve made to turn my body into an inhospitable host, I am heartened that my full-time hard work is producing results.

I consider all of you, my friends, a part of my healing team. There is no way alone I could maintain this positive “kick cancer’s ass” attitude in the face of so many frightening things that are happening to me!!! The cards, mails, letters, text messages, FB shout-outs, phone calls always seem to come at the right time. You boost my confidence and make feel I can do anything. And for that I am eternally grateful.

So let’s celebrate our team victory today: cancer is running scared from us after just one treatment!!!! And this insidious disease is just beginning to realize the power of our collective assault on it. I can’t wait for next week.

So get your mojo running. The chemo is in. Time to get to work sending your cancer-killing vibes my way.

Tuesday morning: The mind seemed willing, but apparently the psyche is not. Up all night dreading the start of a new cycle, yet eager to kill the demons within. Off to Stanford we go. I’ll post more from the infusion lab, or at least that’s the plan.

3 p.m.: Still no chemo. Some problems with my power-port, the device surgically placed under the skin on my chest to receive the chemo and deliver it to my heart. There was some sort of a blood clot in it — not the kind that can harm me, just the kind that makes it impossible for them to draw blood. No blood draw, no chemo. They have to be able to test my white cell counts to know whether we can proceed. Blood is now drawn and we are awaiting the results!

BUT ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: Today doctors detected a change in my tumors. They move around, which is evidence they are SHRINKING.

So thanks for the prayers and positive energy. It’s working!!!!!

9 Responses to “Round 2; A little good news and I’ll take it!”

  • carol:

    Hi Tracie,

    So glad to hear that tumors are shrinking, the treatment is effective.

    Given the brutality of chemo, the payoff even seemingly minor is so valuable.


  • Abi's BF:

    I am so glad that the sensation you were feeling really was the shrinking of the tumors…..hang in there T….your spirit is amazing !!!!!!!
    We love you !!!!

  • Karen:

    I’m so glad there is shrinkage! Keep up the good work!

  • SEH:

    It is great news that the tumors are SHRINKING!!
    Hang tough, my friend.

  • Lynn Arthur:

    No Surprise to me!!!! They are going to be amazed at what happens in YOUR body…. Continue to visualize those tumors shrinking and moving out of our body. You are a powerful women manifesting a healthy and happy body… Talk to you soon, Lynn

  • Maria:

    Hey Tracie,

    Whoop! Whoop!
    for those tumors moving…hope they move faster and totally disappear.

    You are in my thoughts and I am sending all the strong and positive energy your way :)

  • Susan Doty Bowen:

    Tracie, I’m glad the tumors are “moveable”. I’ve been praying for you everyday and have worn my pink bracelet every day since Paige’s wedding. I hope the chemo went well yesterday.


  • LB Lee:

    You go girl!! Those tumors don’t stand a chance – so glad to hear they have realized that and are retreating with their tails between their legs.
    sending lots of love and light,

  • Larry Humrick:

    Tracie, I’m a freind of Rick Ataid’s and I met you once at his house. Needless to say you made quite an impression. If anyone can win this battle, I know it’s you. I did! And I know you can, too. The journey is incredible…you’ll experience love beyond belief. I am meditating and praying with and for you.
    You are incredible…you are perfect…my love and light is with you.

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