Tracy’s Story

In February 2007 Tracy found a mole under her left breast that looked a bit unusual—it just “didn’t look or feel right”.  At first she didn’t seem to be concerned but at the urging of her family, she made an appointment with a Dermatologist.  The appointment was scheduled for six weeks later, but about a week later she called tracy2and said the mole was draining and there was a change of color. She called the doctor’s office and told them what was going on and Tracy was told that the Doctor wanted to see her sooner.  An appointment was made for several days later.

The Dermatologist didn’t think it was serious but wanted to go ahead and have a biopsy done as a precautionary measure.  She was told to try not to worry and that the results would be back in about a week.  In less than a week, Tracy was called into the doctor’s office and was told that it was Stage 2 Malignant Melanoma.  The doctor was very surprised and in fact, she had the tissue rechecked by another specialist to confirm the findings.

Three years before a mole had been removed from that same place, biopsied and the result was pre-cancer.  Now it had returned and confirmed as Malignant Melanoma.  Tracy had the most dangerous of skin cancers. Her world had changed and she was scared but hopeful that it had been caught in the early stages.  It was necessary to do more testing to see if the melanoma had spread and have the mole removed as soon as possible.

In April 2007, she underwent surgery to remove the mole.  An approximate five incision was made and the mole and tissue were removed.  Five lymph nodes were removed and  were sent to be analyzed.  It seemed like an eternity before we got the good news that the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes were clean. Tracy would continue with a follow up every three to six months.  She routinely completed the checkups and we all continued to believe she was going to be one of the lucky ones and that she would be just fine.  Tracy was “blessed” and her life would continue on as usual.  We felt that everything would return to normal and she would have a long and happy life.  After all, she was young and had a loving husband and family.  How could anything else possibly happen??

Over a period of time Tracy had several PET scans preformed and everything seemed to be going well.  In June 2008, another PET scan was performed and results showed several spots on her right lung.  Surgery was scheduled July 17th in order to biopsy the small tumors…the result …Melanoma.  Tracy was now diagnosed at STAGE IV Melanoma. The Melanoma had metastasized to her lung.  It was necessary to remove part of the lung and also a  portion of the pericardium.  The surgeon felt that he had gotten it all but with Melanoma you never know if you have it all or if it will show up some other place.  Tracy had gone from Stage 2 on her left breast to Stage 4 in her right lung.

There were several options for treatment but because of her conditions chemotherapy was the best way to try to treat this horrible disease.  Shortly after leaving the hospital she started her therapy.  In October, it was necessary to go back into the lung to build some scar tissue, but they found the Melanoma has spread.  Her lung had numerous black tumors, as did the chest cavity.  The Melanoma had taken over her right lung and there was no stopping this deadly cancer.  The prognosis was not good in fact there really wasn’t anything that could be done.  We knew in July that she was in for a very difficult time and the possibility of surviving this deadly skin cancer called MELANOMA was doubtful.  We continue to hope and pray for a miracle but it was not to be…Our prayer to God was if she couldn’t be healed, please don’t let her suffer.

Tracy’s first surgery on her lung was July 17th, 2008 and she lost her battle with Melanoma on November 22, 2008.

“God saw her getting tired, and a cure was not to be….so HE put his arm around her and whispered “Come with Me”.

Tracy was a loving wife, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt and friend…she was only forty years young!  She touched so many lives and will be remembered in so many ways.  She was a beautiful, loving young woman with a most unique personality and a love of life and people.

It’s hard to explain how brave my sister was in those last few weeks when she knew was going to lose this battle with Melanoma.  A few weeks before we lost Tracy I was in the hospital room with her and we were talking about when we were young and how close we had always been just everyday conversation…when she said to me “tell my story”.  I told her I would but I didn’t know exactly what she wanted me to do…I just knew it would serve a purpose and her story would make a difference.

My hope and prayer is that Tracy’s story will encourage you to make that appointment with a Dermatologist and become more educated and aware of skin cancer.  Please share her story with your family and friends.  If her story can save just one life, we will have accomplished what Tracy asked!

May God Bless and Keep You Safe!

Lance Harris

The Harris-Harrison Family