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Friday, January 29 2016
Two years on

I sit down to write this post with so many mixed emotions that are really hard to explain. Looking back on that day two years ago, and the weeks that followed in a blur of continuous doctors appointments and tests, it really is an incredible gift and privilege to still have Tracy with us. It is also incredibly heart breaking to look back on what it has taken for that to be the case.

To live with advanced metastatic cancer, is a different kind of life.

One that requires a complete shift in thinking, in priorities and in pretty much everything else. Tracy no longer plans for the long term but lives for the short term, she no longer expects to be around for Taya's next birthday, or her own, but prays and hopes with every cell of her being, that her wish will be granted. She no longer runs or jumps, rides bikes or boogy boards because, despite the fact that she loves doing those things she just can't anymore. Instead she has learnt to accept the previously unacceptable position of sitting on the sidelines, and is grateful to be able to be here to watch Taya doing those things, even if, her heart breaks a little that she is watching instead of being right by her side. Often when I run alongside Taya on the beach, or ride a wave with her, my heart breaks a little too, for I know my sister, and how bittersweet those times can be, but then I pinch myself and snap back into perspective because it is simply awesome that she is here at all. Sometimes we share a glance or a small smile and I know we are thinking the same thing.

During the past two years not only Tracy, but her entire family, has been fighting the battle against cancer.

Fighting this disease is a team effort and the bigger the team the higher the chances of winning. It's like every obstacle is an opponent, and every opponent needs a defender. There are constant, numerous obstacles, so you need a lot of defenders. Those in the inner circle are overcoming obstacles on a daily basis. If I asked Mike and Tracy they would probably say they've been in battle mode almost every single day of the past 735, some more intensely than others. It's exhausting and constant and pretty hard to comprehend what this means, so here's a few fast facts that break it down into something tangible:

In the past two years Tracy has had:

  • 2 surgeries
  • 4 blood transfusions
  • 32 hospital admissions (one of them being for a month long stay!)
  • 37 scans (XRays, MRIs etc)
  • 48 blood tests63 Doctor Visits
  • 152 injections (this is no place for needle phobia!)
  • And my personal favourite....23,520 tablets - that is a lot of gulping! some of them are the size of horse pills and Tracy throws them back a few at a time like a pro. Who knew those days as a raft guide would come in so handy now:-)

Just laying all of those facts out like that makes me so incredibly proud of the person my sister is. She just gets on with it. She rarely complains about any of it and if she does, it's normally about the things she can't do anymore as opposed to the things she has to do to keep fighting. She doesn't question or mope she just keeps going, often pushing herself a little too hard because she just doesn't want to miss out on anything more than she has to. Despite her indomitable spirit, the simple fact is, not even she could be pulling this off without a lot of support

From the beginning Tracy's Army has been real, not just a concept. It's been full of people ready and willing to be defenders, each lightening the load and taking on any obstacle they can. From the people who have never even met Tracy and yet sent a donation (there have been many, with amounts ranging from $20 - to an astounding $1000!!! each one meaningful and restoring my belief that there are good people everywhere!), to the school mums who have helped with school/sport drop offs and pick ups, to the husband and daughter who go into battle with her every single day, and everyone else in between. You're the reason I have the luxury of writing a post that talks about years instead of week or months. Without you Tracy would not have been able to focus on her treatment and health, she would have tried to juggle 1000 balls, tried to push herself way too hard and, without a doubt, she would've collapsed in a heap of exhaustion and the cancer would've won. I honestly have no doubt in my mind about this because I know my sister and how hard she can push even when she shouldn't be. Instead, with her army by her side she has been able to use that tough spirit to focus on winning. It still is not easy to be on the battle field each and every day but the rewards are more than worth it because in the past two years Tracy has also had/watched:

  • 2 Family Christmases
  • 2 Family Easters
  • Taya play the recorder in a concert, sing in the choir and do her school item
  • Taya pass her karate gradings up to her current yellow belt (with white stripe). Tracy used to be a brown belt!
  • A holiday in Fiji they are still taking about!!! (courtesy of ver special friends Belinda, Suzi, Helena and Kelly who personally made this happen)
  • A couple of days at the snow (this was my birthday present to Tracy and Taya, we stayed budget style all 5 of us in a Jindabyne dorm room and Tracy isn't able to ski anymore but it was still so incredibly special)
  • Time camping in Wooli
  • Taya's 7th Birthday
  • 18 of Taya's netball games (she's been to every single one she hasn't been in hospital for, no matter how she feels that day)
  • A very special trip to spend time with Nanna and meet Mike's mokopuna Jane, Taya's niece
  • Taya's 8th Birthday (a Top Model party for a very stylish girl and her closest 5 friends all put together by Tracy herself)
  • A trip to Jamala wildlife (courtesy of Hammond Palliative Care - it blows me away that organisations like this exist. Incredible!)
  • Countless moments between mother and daughter, aunt and nephew/niece, sister and sister/s, husband and wife, friend and friend

If it seems like there's a few holidays in there this is no coincidence. Pretty much the only way you to get escape the doctor appointments and needles and break the monotony of fighting cancer is to get away. This is when the magic happens, because for a brief suspension in reality, the family get to forget that Tracy has cancer, and that this rules their everyday lives. You are never quite sure how much time you have left and so it is even more important to get off the battlefield and seize every opportunity to create memories that can be treasured forever. Recently I realised the importance of this even more. A friend of mine said to me, that when we look back on our childhood, the human brain has an amazing ability to only string together the happiest times in what becomes the highlight reel of our youth. I smiled, thought of Taya, and how these special times are helping to create a highlight reel for her, a highlight reel that would otherwise not have a lot in it. Luckily Tracy has had the support of family and friends as well as Hammond Palliative Care to help fill that highlight reel up. Of course treatment and other obligations come first but when the opportunity to suspend reality is offered it is grabbed with both hands, and a squeal of delight from a very courageous little girl, who has held her mum's hand through things an 8 year old girl should never have to experience. It recharges and strengthens the soul for a return to the battlefield. 

We are entering the next phase of setting Tracy up to continue winning her fight for as long as possible and to kick it off we are holding a fittingly themed Casino Royale evening on 12th March 2016. It will be a fun filled night with lots of dancing so come and join us to celebrate life and lay your bets on Tracy. 

Tickets can be bought here:

For those who can't make the night, but still would like to contribute, you can find how on this 4Tracy4Life website page. You can also find details on how the funds raised to date have been spent on the 4Tracy4Life homepage.

As always, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being a part of Tracy's Army.

We hope this post shares some of what you've contributed too x


Posted by: Clare AT 05:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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4Tracy4Life has been setup to raise funds for Tracy Williamson in her fight against Advanced Metastatic Breast Cancer.

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