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


I hate to dwell on the pain, but if this is to be a truthful account of my breast cancer experience, then I have to say something about these burns.

My last radiation session was two weeks ago today! But the end of radiation, I’ve learned, is NOT the end of radiation.

My radiologist warned me that I would feel the effects of radiation for 14 days after my last treatment. I just didn’t think he really meant me.

When that last dose was administered I wanted to be done, for the pain to end, for the burns to heal. But just like clockwork, weird bumps and blisters started appearing on my chest as the post-radiation days passed.

Then they appeared, mysteriously, on my back, like exit wounds, I thought. Then, as I continued to cook, my skin turned dark and crispy. When I applied ointment, my skin felt like bacon. Then it started to look like bacon.

The photo below was taken this morning as my wounds started to open up. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. The pain is so bad I resorted to Percocet two nights ago. It’s not like a sunburn, it’s worse. More like if something scalding had been poured on me. Or maybe acid. Or maybe I’ve been nuked in a microwave. I really have no point of comparison.

Pain shoots from my chest to my armpit, which is also burned and discolored.

I was hesitant to post a photo of this, but I think it’s important. I also thought I’d never post a photo of my scars, though this one includes the part of my scar that extends under my armpit.

So there you have it.

There is good news, as there always is. I now believe Dr. P, who said I would continue to burn for 14 days. That means tomorrow the pain will start to diminish.

From now on out, the pain I have endured for the past nine months will get a little easier. Every day I’ll get a little stronger.

Maybe one day my brain will start to recall things a little better. I’ll write what that’s like another time – if I can remember….

My skin continues to cook -- and it hurts!

4 Responses to “Yeow!”

  • Joanne Holder:

    Happy New Year!!! Now I don’t feel so alone about the burns, I thought I wasn’t taking good care of my skin or something. My frikken boob is in tatters and the skin is falling off in chunks. Awful!! My last treatment was the Monday after Christmas, and I was happy to see the last of that place. I felt bad for the little 80’s gal, I think she really leaned on us for support and we both kinda left her. She was a little sad when she found out that I was leaving too.
    I know I miss our quick little chats in the AM. Stay well, stay strong!!! Now, I think I’ll go to Victoria Secret and order a custom bra, I think a DD / D might do! Ha Ha!

    Your Friend,

    P.S. Hi Michelle, it was a pleasure meeting you!!!

  • Beth:

    Wow, it hurts just to look at your burns and scars. Today is the 6th so I am praying and confident that your pain has started to subside and your burns begin to heal! So far your doctors have been very much on top of the time schedule with which the changes in your body take place. Hang in there Tracie! I wish I could take the pain away so I’ll do the best thing I can and continue to pray. I have my back surgery on Monday 1/17/11, and I am also praying about this. I love you and Michelle. I predict you will have a beautiful Valentine’s Day!

  • arlene:

    Just thinking about you and wishing you much healing! Awwww yes, Valentine Day and feeling better—excellent thought! Cheers from Arlene and Clara

  • Elaine:

    I read a definition of courage today that made me think of you, Tracie. Courage comes from Cor which is the Latin word for heart. Courage means to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. That’s you, my friend.

Leave a Reply

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