Tracie's tale of survival
By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au
WHILE Tracie Wise is a healthy 22-year-old now, she will never really be free of the Leukaemia which nearly claimed her life when she was just three years old.
"I'm still in remission and it could actually come back at any time,'' Tracie said.
She also has to have check ups every two years for the rest of her life to make sure the illness doesn't return.
Now the Gladstone woman is taking on a different challenge as a member of the Gladstone branch Leukaemia Foundation, who will be launching their annual fundraising efforts from next month.
Tracie is also the Gladstone entrant in the Leukaemia Quest and what better advocate for finding a cure for the disease could there be then someone who has survived it?
Tracey said when she was first diagnosed with Leukaemia, very few people recovered, but today she is proof the disease can be beaten.
"We were at the Leukaemia Foundation AGM recently and someone gave statistics that showed that when I was diagnosed only 10 per cent of people survived. It gave me a shiver and made me realise how lucky I was,'' Tracie said.
At just three years old Tracie got the news everyone fears, but the truth is she was to young to even understand exactly what it meant.
"We found out just 10 days before my third birthday,'' Tracie said.
"I got three (birthday) cakes that year, they (her family) were trying to make the most out of it... I didn't understand why then, but I do now.''
After being diagnosed with Leukaemia, Tracie had to endure twoand-a-half years of treatment including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and lumberpuncture, where they insert a needle into the patients spine.
"I had to be held down to get my needles and kept spitting my medicine back at the doctors, it wasn't fun at all,'' Tracie said.
On top of all that she also lost her hair because of the therapy, quite a daunting notion for a little girl.
"If I was in the bank and took off my hat or beanie everyone would just stare at me,'' Tracie said.
She said it was only through the positive support of family and friends that she was able to get through it.
It is this support that the Gladstone Leukaemia branch is looking to pass on to other residents through their fundraising efforts.
This year the local branch will not be staging a Gladstone-wide Shave for a Cure as they have in the past.
Instead they will be encouraging local businesses to support the cause by staging their own events.
"We already have businesses who have registered to have shave events and know of people around Gladstone who are growing their hair so they can then shave it off to raise money,'' said local branch president Kim Turner. The Shave for a Cure will be in March and followed by a fundraising event in May which will see locals walk from Gladstone to Brisbane to raise money, as well as a fashion parade in August.