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.
Contact Tracie

The Cancer Club

The Cancer Club is one that nobody wants to join. Never mind the saying “I wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member.” You have no choice.

Membership, of course, is anyone who has had cancer. But there are ancillary memberships given to anyone who loves someone who has or has had cancer.

You, too, are all members by virtue of your unwavering support in my recovery.

Membership has its rewards, as the other saying goes. There are the intangibles: insights into life and love and what’s important, learning the value of good health and appreciation for the human body, and learning not to sweat the small stuff (hint, if it’s not cancer, it’s small stuff). The list goes on.

But the other rewards are measurable. We live in a world, I am happy to report, of infinite compassion. People genuinely want to make life easier for those of us who are sick.

This list is equally long, and it goes far beyond the close friends who have given their time and gifts to inspire my journey.

I’m reminded of this because last night, in 30-something weather and pitch dark, the AT&T guy who has spent three days in our neighborhood fixing a bad Internet line (in pouring rain) returned to our house. We thought he had dropped a tool in the dark, but he had thought of something he could do to improve our Internet service (which is so slow, despite DSL, that I often can go boil water for tea while my email loads). This wasn’t a part of his repair ticket, but after warming up in my kitchen earlier in the day, I had been on his mind. He climbed the pole in our backyard in the dark and spent nearly two hours installing some sort of new wire. It’s now blazing fast.

When he came down he told Michelle that his mother had died of cancer. “I know you’re not supposed to say that to someone,” he told Michelle. “Don’t tell Tracie.”

She did anyway.

Of the 5 PG&E guys who had to remove a tree in our yard a few months ago, two had sisters with breast cancer. Despite regulations that say they just hack it into logs and leave it where it falls, they cut the pieces small enough to carry and stacked them out of the way. Our yard guys, equally compassionate, carried them to our woodpile.

Even Disneyland, where we spent Christmas, gives a special assistance pass to people who are sick so they can avoid the lines.

The list of people who have helped me is long, and the acts of kindness too many to list.

I hope that they inspire me to pay it forward, as they say.

And I’m hopeful that all of the people who have helped me have also helped their karma. I hope the result is that they never, ever become full-fledged members of the Cancer Club.

Membership does have its rewards. Maybe it took cancer for cynical me to see all of the good in the world.

Leave a Reply

Meet Tracie
Copyright 2010 by Tracie Cone. All rights reserved.