By Alan Gionet
DENVER (CBS4)– In a few weeks, Tracy Alarid will face an operation that will alter her body a little. It will not alter her spirit. It won’t make her a different person. Having cancer to her has been “totally empowering.” Tracy is ready for the next steps in her treatment.
Cancer has taught her, “You’re no longer a victim.”
Tracy is one of the faces of cancer we’ve met as we have talked about cancer this month. It’s been a way of doing my No Shave November campaign. We want to show people in the midst of treatment that Coloradans care. We also want Coloradans to understand there’s a lot more to people with cancer than the disease that hit them.
Tracy calls what’s been happening lately “round two.” She was first diagnosed with breast cancer more than seven years ago.
“When they give you that diagnosis, your stomach drops,” she said. It hit hard. “I just wanted to crawl into a dark hole and just stay there.”
She didn’t even tell anyone at first. A single mom, her two children were in high school. Her son was a sophomore and her daughter was in her freshman year. Facing down cancer was frightening.
But she began to learn about herself.
“You can choose to be bitter. You can choose to blame, or pity poor me, or you can choose to be stronger, to get up and be stronger.”
She did. After treatment, she was deemed cancer free. She passed a year, two, three, four, then the magical five year mark. It’s said after five years cancer-free, it’s gone. But after seven years, this year a mammography showed cancer was back.
It’s early. She remains a huge advocate of screenings. But it is a fairly large area. A surgeon recommended a double mastectomy. She’ll go ahead with it in early December.
“I’m skating,” she said. She has a “team in place” to help her.
She is generally far more healthy than she was last time. She has lost weight in those years, she works out.
“I am stronger and much healthier, a much stronger person by far.”
Tracy has travelled with her son Sean, 24 and daughter Julia, 23. She is super proud of them. But there’s a positivity in her voice that is inspiring. Cancer has not taken her down, it has built her up.
She advises, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
She has come through it before and is ready to move on after she wins this second battle.
“You’d be amazed to know what you’re capable of.”
Alan Gionet is raising money and awareness for No Shave November. You can add to it here: