Author: Tracey Neldare
My name is Tracey S. Neldare, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am 52 years old and I’ve been married for 29 years to my wonderful husband, Tramelle Neldare. I am the mother of two adult children Jordan Neldare and Hayley Neldare Allen. I am a grandmother (LoLo) to a twenty-month old, Zahr Allen who is the absolute joy of my life. And last but certainly not least I am a recent Breast Cancer Survivor.
Now let me tell you what the words life support mean to me.
In late March of this year, after performing a self-exam in the shower, I felt a lump in my right breast. I wasn’t very alarmed about it and felt that I would check it for the next few days to see if anything would change. This was also the beginning stages of the COVID-19 outbreak and I certainly didn’t want to put myself in harm’s way by going into a hospital setting. I informed my husband about the lump and told him I thought I would wait until COVID settled down before making an appointment and we both agreed having no idea that we would be in an eight-month long pandemic.
Two days later “something” moved me- I’m sure that “something” was God.
I told my husband I better go and get this lump checked out. I called my Gynecologist, Dr. Amanda Pearson at Woman’s Hospital to make the appointment. Two days later I went to my appointment and after an exam was immediately sent for a mammogram which came back abnormal. I was immediately sent to radiology where a mass was detected and I was referred to Woman’s Hospital breast specialist Dr. Cecilia Cuntz.
Remember, this is during the early stages of COVID which meant no visitors in the hospital. Although my husband was sitting in the parking lot, I started to feel very alone and very afraid. At this point all I could do was cry and call my husband. I’m sure he did his best to comfort me from a distance, but I can honestly say I don’t remember anything he said. I met with Dr. Cuntz, she explained that they could do a biopsy that same day. Needless to say that was the longest walk of my life to the other side of the hospital.
Just like that walk, the five days until I got the biopsy results seemed like a year. Long story short, during a ZOOM call with Dr. Cuntz I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Triple Negative Breast Cancer. After meeting with Oncologist Dr. Lauren Zatarain, she explained my Anatomic Stage was Stage III.
Thus starting my journey into the unknown world of breast cancer and giving me a new meaning to the words Life Support.
I’m sure you all thought of Life Support as an ICU room, breathing machines and wires everywhere. I see the words Life Support as faith in God and unbelievable support from family and friends. I went through five months of chemotherapy and during those five months my faith in God and man grew tremendously. And still today my faith continues to grow.
I’ve learned that through the grace of God I married my very supportive and encouraging husband. Through the grace of God, we raised two respectable and responsible children.Through the grace of God, I am part of a very loving family, mother, father, brother and sister-in-law and in-laws. Through the grace of God, I met high school friends and classmates who are still my friends today. Through the grace of God I am part of an amazing social group, the Red Hatters (Sassy Sisters of Baton Rouge) and through the grace of God I am a member of, in my opinion the best church on this side of heaven, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Baton Rouge pastored by Fred Jeff Smith. Also, by God’s grace I have many, many other family members and friends.
All of these groups, each and every individual that make up these groups, became my Life Support.
From April until the present, I have received so many blessings, blessings of every type. Personal calls, cards, flowers, messages of well wishes, gifts, food, advice and most of all prayers. I had physical following for every chemo session without fail. My friend Gina would meet me for early morning prayer before going to her job. My Sassy Sisters would arrive a little later and stand outside my window in 90 to 100-degree heat until my chemo was completed. Many other friends would join them throughout the day to wait for me to walk out the door. This tough journey that I was facing became a lot easier every time I looked out of my window and saw my #TeamTracey waiving up to me. Every time I stood and prayed with Gina and every time I received those phone calls, messages and gifts they all became my Life Support. They all encouraged me to keep fighting and I did.
Now I hope to inspire all of them to believe that the fight is always worthwhile.
Through God’s grace they gave me life and now I’ll give back. I always knew I had a purpose in life, now my purpose is crystal clear. Encourage, Inspire and Inform. From start to where I am now, with Dr. Pearson’s office, Dr. Lauren Zatarain, Dr. Cecilia Cuntz and the entire Woman’s Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center staff at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion staff were very professional and empathetic. They made me feel comfortable and at home. I never felt lonely while I was there. They too are a part of my Life Support.
My advice to you ladies, would be to have your mammograms but also perform self-check exams in between. Put nothing off until tomorrow and tell your story. The more people that know your story, the more prayers go up. God can move mountains.
My journey is not over yet.
I have a lumpectomy scheduled on October 21 and I know my Life Support Team will be right there with me and I thank God for them every day. #TeamTracey
Through the generosity of our community donors, the Foundation for Woman’s supports free mammograms to any woman who cannot pay. We do this on our campus and through our two mammography coaches. Woman’s is also a partner of Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control Programs, that enables us to provide no-cost mammograms and Pap tests patients with barriers to care.