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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Thankful Good News

I ran into Dr. Nice at Stanford yesterday and he put the recent good news about my pathology report into an amazingly encouraging perspective.

First, it was great to see him. And even better when I introduced him to my friend Leslie as “Dr. Nice,” which is my nickname when I write about him. “I know you from Tracie’s blog,” she said. It’s funny to see his face turn red.

With the amazing Dr. Carlson back from sabbatical I don’t get to see Dr. Mollick anymore, but he of kind manner was just who I needed when the going got tough during my summer of discontent. Anyway, he was excited, as only Dr. Nice be, about my pathology report.

“You had a complete response to the treatment,” he beamed. It means that after testing my breast doctors knew the cancer was dead. That I already knew, but I didn’t know what it meant for my long term, and that’s what Dr. Nice took time to explain as we stood outside the infusion center, my ultimate destination.

With a complete response, doctors can extrapolate out and assume that because the tumor of origin died, the chemo likely also tracked down and killed all of the stray cells that my evil right breast might have sent to other parts of my body. Not everyone is so lucky. Some people even have tumors grow on chemo. So that’s thankful news No. 2, but it gets better.

Because I had a complete response, or PCR as he called it, I go into a different subset of people with my type of aggressive HER2 Positive cancer – those with the best odds of surviving it for good. That I had no idea!

Pair this with the Herceptin I received yesterday and will get every 3 weeks for the next year, my ongoing radiation, and the hormone-suppressing pills I will take for 5 years and my odds keep on improving. Herceptin, a biological agent, binds with cancer cells and alters the immune system to kill them.

I was so happy to run into him — and not just because he helped put my prognosis into a happy perspective for which I am deeply Thankful. The reason I was happy to see him is because I get emotionally attached to everyone on my medical team working so hard so that that I can live. I’ve missed seeing him.

What Dr. Nice told me only confirmed what I have felt in my heart and in my gut. I really believe that all of my cancer cells are dead. It means, however, that when I’m in radiation, I’ve started to worry.

I wonder if it’s overkill? Why am I blistering my skin and absorbing radiation, a cancer killer and causer, if my cancer is gone?

Well the same day I saw Dr. Nice I met Carol G., a thyroid cancer survivor who lives in Fresno. I told her about my concern and this is what she had to say.

“Think of cancer as an unwanted guest who brought negativity into your house. Think of the radiation as lighting sage to drive out the bad spirits.”

I like that thought. Radiation chasing out the evil spirits.

It’s what I visualized today as I lay on the table being bombarded with beams. It made me happy.

4 Responses to “Thankful Good News”

  • Elaine Hoover:

    My complete response is…We just love Dr. Nice!

  • Beth:

    On this Thanksgiving Day I am so thankful that the outcome seems to be getting better and better, and the effects of the radiation and herceptin are not taking as great of a toll on you as the first part of your treatment! THANK GOD! You go girl! I am so proud of you and all the people who have been involved in helping you to overcome. I pray that the news will continue getting better and you will start feeling better. You and Michelle are always in my thoughts and prayers. Keep up the great work and spirit.
    Love Ya,

  • Debby Deacon:

    Tracie –

    I’m still following you and your horrendous, scary and yet somehow amazing journey. Your latest report is truly GREAT NEWS!!!
    This should truly be a thankful Thanksgiving for you.
    Praying for continued return of your health.

  • Vanessa M.:

    Just checking in with you after I learned about beautiful Elizabeth Edwards. Hope you are doing ok.

    Thank you again for sharing your experience with me and others. This is important work you are doing.

    And Tracie, you are going to beat this!

    Praying for your continued improvement and high spirits. For Andy too.

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