Meet Tracy: Mother, patient, advocate and BLESSED!

When I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in 2004, I was already facing some challenges: I was a single mom working as a substitute teacher. I couldn’t work full-time because I was responsible for taking my two children—who were 11 and 9 at the time—to school and the ride was one hour each way. So when I received my diagnosis, I thought, “And this, too?” I was shocked. Of course, my first concern was for my children. I knew I needed help, so I turned to my friends; one of them took me under her wing and introduced me to HOA. Here, cancer wears a face, and not a number. Let me explain.

Read More: 

I visited two well-known cancer centers, and at one, the physician I saw told me that she hadn’t taken the time to read any of my file in preparation for our appointment. This was after a six-hour car ride and an hour spent waiting to see her. She was impersonal, and had no respect for me as a patient. At the second center, I was point-blank told that I was going to die of breast cancer. 

At HOA, I began seeing Dr. Scalzo after my original physician, Dr. Maher, passed away. God has definitely gifted Dr. Scalzo into my life. When I saw him at one of the Komen races, he recognized me and made the connection that I had had a test done a few days prior and been waiting for results. He told me that I’d have my test results by the end of the day, and sure enough, by 4pm, he had called me with that information. 

I use the word “blessed” as one of the ways to describe myself because I have many reasons to feel this way: I’ve got a doctor who cares about me, and the staff at HOA—from receptionists to phlebotomists to billing—sees me as a person. I’ve been able to see my children graduate from high school and college, as well as see them get married. During my treatments, I was also blessed to receive a great deal of support from my local church community. In fact, as a show of solidarity, the women there wore hats for three months while I experienced hair loss. 

HOA encourages its patients to become advocates and then preserve the idea of “community oncology” by giving it a stronger voice. Thanks to HOA, I was able to learn more about community oncology by attending a conference they sent me to in Washington, D.C. Centers like HOA offer an attention to detail that you won’t find in a larger setting.  Everyone is friendly and genuinely cares for you as a person. I’ve met an amazing group of battlers in the Metastatic Cancer Support Group here.

I was at a crossroads when I came to HOA; I was fearful. And HOA made a huge difference. They were able to take some of my fear away. Why would anyone consider going anywhere else?