Trayce Sackman has always been one to help others. She’s spent 18 years at Watertown High School both in the classroom teaching special education students and working in the attendance office. She’s volunteered at church, in the community and brought her Girl Scout troop to volunteer at the Sherry’s Run 5K for three years. When her family started participating in the Sherry’s Run 5K in 2010, they were on a team for a friend who had cancer. Trayce never imagined that one day people would have a team for her and would be supporting her through her own cancer journey.
"Mostly what I remember was knowing,” recalls Trayce. “Somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach I knew they were going to say ‘you have cancer.’ In 2011, life was just starting to settle down following my daughter Ashley’s brain tumor and seizure diagnosis and my son’s surgeries, so I was certainly not wanting to hear more bad news.”
Trayce has had fibrocystic cysts for most of her life, so cysts were common. After her third child was born, the cysts started coming more often. “The doctor would always tell me to cut back on caffeine and this usually seemed to work,” says Trayce. “My doctor wasn’t too concerned as he knew my history and I didn’t match any of the typical breast cancer criteria. I was concerned, though. Over time, the lumps kept coming more often and they just didn’t seem the same. Even though my insurance wouldn’t cover a mammogram because I was under the recommended age, I decided to get one anyway.”
Trayce went for the mammogram and ended up staying for six hours. “One test led to another,” Trayce recalls. “Then I had a biopsy. When I got the results, I had stage 3 breast cancer.”
With three children at home at the time, Trayce’s first concern was her family. “Who would take them to games, practices, scouts and church events? I didn’t have time to be sick, much less have a disease,” says Trayce. “But cancer doesn’t care about your schedule and plans. It has a way of changing plans.”
What followed Trayce’s cancer diagnosis was 17 rounds of chemotherapy every Thursday, 31 radiation treatments and then a double mastectomy. “I got chemotherapy every Thursday and I knew I would be sick on Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” recalls Trayce. “After I finished the chemotherapy treatments, I had radiation every day for 31 days, even over the Christmas holidays. I only got a break on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.”
“God, Immanuel Baptist Church, family and friends were—and still are my greatest weapons in fighting cancer,” says Trayce. “During my treatments and surgery, everyone was so good to my family. I remember the sickness and struggles, but mostly I remember all the blessings.”
One of those blessings was finding the Sherry’s Run organization. “Peggy Clark, the librarian at Watertown High School, knew about Sherry’s Run because of a family member who had been helped. She gave me the information and I got in touch with the people at Sherry’s Run,” recalls Trayce. “Sherry’s Run has just been a godsend. When I was going through treatments, it was a blessing to have gift cards so my husband could pick up dinner for the family. Later, when I was going to daily treatments, gas cards were helpful. When my husband was out of work, Sherry’s Run helped with our mortgage and utilities. They were great to help with what we needed most. Sherry’s Run took away the stress so I could focus on healing.”
Two years ago, Trayce hit her 5 year cancer free mark. She felt great other than a pain in her left hip, which the doctor diagnosed as arthritis. When she had her yearly body scan, they confirmed that it was arthritis in her hip, but there was a new cancer spot on her lower back. After 5 years, her cancer had returned. Trayce is now learning to manage metastatic cancer. She takes a daily chemotherapy pill and takes a shot once a month. Fortunately this has kept the cancer stable for two years. “My fight continues and I know God continues to have big plans for me,” shares Trayce. “Cancer has touched so many of my friends and family. I have lost several friends over the past two years and it can be overwhelming, but I have to remember God is the Great Physician and he has healed more than I can count.”
“I can’t imagine traveling this journey without church, support groups and family,” says Trayce. “If it weren’t for my kids Ashley, Nick and Collin, my husband, John, my parents and my wonderful church family, I would not be here today. I tell everyone who has been diagnosed with cancer to reach out to a support group and surround yourself with those who love and cherish you.” She attends the Hope-Joy-Light monthly women’s cancer support group at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon. “It’s a great group that understands the struggles of breast cancer,” she says. “I also attend the Sherry’s Run monthly cancer support group. I enjoy this group because it’s just real people sharing real issues. It’s open to men and women with any type of cancer. We talk and share and I feel like I can help someone who is having the same issues I’ve experienced. I have hope and I have love to get me through, along with lots of support buddies.”
“The Sherry’s Run organization is glad we could be there to help Trayce when she most needed the support of her community,” said Alisa Eakes, Sherry’s Run Director of Patient Assistance. “Trayce has been a tremendous asset to our cancer support group, sharing about her own journey with cancer and uplifting others in our group. She is such a great encourager to others who are also battling cancer.”
The Sherry’s Run cancer support group is open to anyone who has cancer or is a caregiver. Meetings are held the third Wednesday of each month at 4pm at the Gibbs Pharmacy Education Center located at 1409A West Baddour Parkway. For more information about the Sherry’s Run cancer support group, call 615-925-9932. The Hope-Joy-Light women’s cancer support group meets the first Wednesday of each month from 6pm until 7:30pm at Immanuel Baptist Church Owens Building. For more information, call 615-444-5563.