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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Sisterhood of the Traveling Hats

Michelle and I proudly wear our SOTS hats (Sisterhood of Tracie Supporters)

Every day you uplift me and help me get through my treatments. Sometimes it’s in ways that are so clever, I feel the need to share.

And so arrived these hats yesterday from a group of my buddies during my years at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. UNC is what one would call a “frat school,” and it was especially preppy during our time there. One would have thought that pink and khaki were the school colors instead of Carolina blue and white.

My friends and I never understood why people would want to walk lock-step, and so over much alcohol and other substances the SOT house was born. (If I had Greek on my Mac I would have written that as Sigma Omicron Tau.)

It was, I think, the brainchild of Ann, Cindy, Vicky and Margaret, who shared a house in Carborro that was known as the Sot House for the amount of alcohol consumed there. But Judy and I were made members by virtue of the pranks we all played while studying in the Department of Radio, Television and Motion Pictures (aka ‘Talkies’ back then).

Yesterday my mail carrier knocked on the door with a package addressed to “Sister Tracie” and “Sister Michelle” with a beautiful fall photo of the campus pasted on it. The letter carrier knows I sometimes struggle to get to the mailbox and helps me out, especially if it looks interesting!

I opened the box and cracked up, then naturally became weepy (because that’s what I do these days).

Inside were two Carolina blue hats stitched across the front with the large block letters SOTS. Underneath was stitched what those letters now mean to my friends: Sisterhood of Tracie Supporters. On the back the greek letters Sigma Omicron Tau and the word sorority. Michelle was invited to join “the prestigious SOT Sorority (and these are her peeps; she’s tired of drinking alone!!)

But it was the hand-made card that had me really going: The SOT Sisterhood Sends Love & Support, with a group photo on front and another inside of us right after our college days. Their personal messages of support touched my heart, along with this: “Sisters are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

I haven’t been flying since my May 3 diagnosis, when my life, as the radiologist predicted, changed completely and in ways I could never imagine.

But because of all of you, including these “sisters,” I am nearing the end of what is supposed to be the hardest part of this endeavor.

I’ll have my last chemo on Tuesday. After that, little by little, I’ll be able to stretch my wings again.

Then one day I will fly because you all kept me believing that I could.

4 Responses to “Sisterhood of the Traveling Hats”

  • brenda:

    The home stretch is within arms reach! People probably think I’m crazy sitting by myself crying, staring at my phone, but I don’t care. These are tears of happiness! You’ve done it! Even when you didn’t think you could. You think we gave YOU strength….but your the one that has given US strength as well.

  • Elaine Hoover:

    Those are really cool hats! Carolina girls…best in the world! There is a reason so much love and support keeps traveling your way, Sister Friend. You have given so much to so many over the years.

  • Sue:

    Okay, crying here Sista Tracie…getting out the Kleenex.
    Love you and miss you.

  • Bryan:

    Brenda and I had the same moment. I’m typing on my little phone with tears in my eyes. Such a beautiful gesture of sisterhood and solidarity, oh my god. Big love to you, Warrior Tracie. You continue to inspire, educate and awe us all

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