written 2007
 

My name is Tracy Pleva Hill. And this is the year I turn 40. Although hitting 40 isn’t a welcome milestone for most people, I see reaching this lofty age as a tremendous success, relentlessly fought for and definitely hard won. It’s proof not that I’m not getting any younger – but that I continue to get older!

Tracy Pleva Hill on her bike.

See, aside from a brief ten-month reprieve in 2001 after my initial course of chemotherapy, I’ve spent the past seven years being infused with chemotherapeutics every other week. There have been many, many times during those seven years when I thought I would never live to see 40. But here I am!

I’m blessed to have a beloved, beleaguered, adored husband who valiantly remains my most insistent supporter despite all the challenges and hardship breast cancer has brought us. (“In sickness and in health” – who saw this coming?) Jeff pushes me to take on the challenges he knows I covet – like getting my motorcycle license last summer after listening to me whine about it for, oh, twenty years! He reminds me that I should live like I expect to be here for a very long time. In other words: Get up, it’s time to go to work!

I also have a seven-and-a-half year old son. Jason has never known me as anything but someone living with cancer. He knows my oncologist. He’s sat on my lap while I’ve received chemotherapy and blood transfusions. He knows

mommy is sick, gets stupid tired at times, and, thanks to an intense course of radiation, her shoulder can really ache. But he is happy, silly, brilliant, energetic, and he enjoys all the things a child should.

So, I love my husband, raise my son, work full-time and run my home. Only, there is always the cancer.

I have a hard time remembering what I was like before breast cancer horned in on my unremarkable but happy life. It shapes me in unfamiliar ways. Living with Stage IV (advanced) breast cancer elevates the game. It means knowing that your cancer is never going to leave you and that you are going to be on some form of medication for as long as your body can withstand it or until the cancer overwhelms you. It means knowing that your family and friends will forever be burdened by feelings of sadness and anxiety for you. It also means knowing you are the embodiment of most non-recurred breast cancer survivors’ worst fears. This can lead to horrified looks from many of these survivors once they learn your status and, not infrequently, total and irrevocable avoidance by some. There is constant fatigue, pain and the always possible, unpredictable, emergency hospital admittance.

But I’m still here.

So for my 40th birthday, I’m taking the opportunity to let cancer know it hasn’t conquered me, and I’m doing it in grand fashion: riding across Scotland and England on a Harley with other spirited and determined women who live to live.

Along the way, we will raise awareness about breast cancer. We will also raise funds for Amazon Heart and the Young Survival Coalition. My participation in Amazon Heart Thunder helps the thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer every year access the support they need.

Tracy Pleva Hill
Flemington, New Jersey
United States
Amazon Heart Thunder
Experienced Rider United Kingdom 2007
 
Friday, February 20, 2009 - Tracy quietly passed at 5:10 this morning with her family at her bedside. She was surrounded by love.