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

Tired and Hopeful

If radiation had been my first experience with cancer treatment, I might be looking at it differently. But because it came after chemotherapy, which about killed me, and my double mastectomy, which hurt physically and emotionally, complaining about being tired seems trivial.

So I won’t complain; I’ll just state the facts. I am tired. Not sleepy tired or I’d just go take a nap. But weary, bone tired. I just don’t want to move. So I won’t. Except for my fingertips while I write this.

The burns on my chest are tolerable as I enter the second-to-the-last week of my eight-month cancer treatment marathon. I tried organic aloe to help with the burns and subsequent rash. When Lynn Arthur suggested Vitamin E, I switched. Now I cut up the little capsules after my bath and squeeze the oil across the affected parts of my chest. It takes about 5 of them to cover my burned area and my mastectomy scars.

Overnight I felt better. So there’s my tip of the day.

I kind of like the routine of radiation. I get up, have my tea and read the paper, then go to Fresno Cancer Center and talk to the friends I’ve made who are on the same schedule as I. Joanne and I are back-to-back, so I get to talk to her the most. Cool lady. It’s almost like going to work, but it fills only a fraction of my day. I’m usually home by 9:30, unless it’s X-ray day. Once a week the doctor checks to make sure the places the radiation is going are the places he wants treated. Usually they make minor adjustments. We’re talking millimeters.

Tomorrow I had back to Stanford bright and early. I’ll be there every three weeks for a year for Herceptin, and every nine weeks I’ll see my oncologist, Dr. Carlson.

Tomorrow is Dr. Carlson day. I have lots of questions: Can I go to the dentist now? One can’t with depleted white blood cells because of the risk of infection. I can’t even floss. My mouth is a mess. I want to see my hygienist.

Since my cancer is slightly hormonal receptive, should I cut back on soy?

Why am I getting Herceptin for a year? Why not 2 years. Or 1 ½ years? What’s magical about one year? How do you know that’s long enough to turn off the gene that makes my kind of cancer grow?

And though I’ve heard encouragement from Dr. Nice, my substitute oncologist, I really want to hear it from Dr. Carlson, the world’s best breast cancer oncologist (at least that’s my opinion, and it must be the opinion of many others judging by his speaking schedule). Can’t he look at me, look at my response to chemotherapy, my double mastectomy, and everything else I’ve done to stay healthy and give me hope as my body-wracking treatment phase winds down?

Can he tell me that if he were a betting man — because we’re all playing the odds in this cancer battle — he’d bet mine would not come back?

That’s all I want for Christmas.

Not promises, not guarantees, because one thing this has taught me is that there are none in life.

All I want is hope — hope that I’ll never experience another year like 2010.

Leave a Reply

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