I am Sister Sue Tracy, O.P. (Order of Preachers), a 55 year-old Polish-American, Grand Rapids Dominican Sister. Detroit is my original home, but my 36 convent years have provided me with many "homes" along the way. Ministries have included junior and senior-high teaching, vocation directing for my religious congregation, parish ministry throughout northern Michigan, and now hospital chaplaincy. Since 1989, I have served as pastoral care director at Mercy Hospital in Toledo-much more a joy than a job.
A special focus of my hospital ministry has been contact with other persons coping with cancer as well as their families. Interacting with so many resilient people has been one of the beautiful side effects of cancer. On my 50th birthday in 1990, I became an American Cancer Society Cansurmount volunteer and added the Lucas County Unit to my "homes"-truly a place of comfort and challenge.
In January 1993 cancer revisited. Three things emerged: (1) I wanted God to be glorified come what may; (2) I wanted to learn the life lessons inherent in this breast cancer recurrence; and (3) I wanted to remain in charge, networking with the doctors not as a victim but as a partner. I felt very much responsible for my part in the healing process.
My American Cancer Society contacts have been a vital part of the holistic healing experience since May of 1986. Reach to Recovery was the first contact that enhanced my shaky hope; I Can Cope served as a powerful means of lessening my dreadful fear of chemotherapy; Look Good'Feel Better was a two-hour gift of joyful connecting with other women as we all left toting a gold mine of free makeup. This year in June, I had the privilege of sharing My Cancer Herstory at the American Cancer Society state headquarters in Dublin, Ohio. For the past eight years, the American Cancer Society has been a valued companion in my cancer journey.
No, I would not have freely chosen cancer a first or second time. However, today I proclaim I would not trade all I have learned, lived, laughed and loved because of it. I do not consider myself just a cancer survivor with genuine respect for that commonly used term. I see myself as a cancer thriver. My basic attitude it gratitude. I know there is no guarantee this won't happen again, but I don't live just holding my breath. I treasure life. With a careful diet, moderate exercise, positive attitude and daily prayer, I keep trucking along. I believe God has bestowed a special mission to be present and supportive of fellow travelers on the cancer journey. So amidst the ups, downs and inbetweens, I feel richly blessed.
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