"Breast cancer is not a death sentence. Don't let it...

"Breast cancer is not a death sentence. Don't let it crush you and change your lifestyle." - Melody Tracy

When Melody Tracy, then one month shy of her 49th birthday, learned she had stage IV triple-positive breast cancer that had spread to one lymph node and her lower spine, she didn’t think she would “see her 50th birthday.” That was 10 years ago.

Her journey began in July 2011 with the discovery of a nearly golf-ball-sized lump that tests revealed was an aggressive form of cancer. “I knew when I felt that lump it would be cancer because of the size of it,” recalled Melody.

Doctors told her that because the cancer had already spread to the bone, she would not be a candidate for a mastectomy. They recommended she take an oral hormone-blocking medication for two years that hinders the growth of breast cancer cells followed by 12 months of chemotherapy.

For years, imaging tests showed the anti-cancer therapies were keeping the disease at bay, until August 2019, when doctors detected a mass on a CT scan. After additional tests, Melody learned she had a new triple-positive cancer in the same breast. In January 2020, she underwent a lumpectomy to remove the new pea-sized growth and the initial mass, which had turned to scar tissue. Following the procedure, she underwent nearly a month of radiation. She continues to undergo infusions of targeted cancer therapy and has resumed the daily hormone-blocking therapy.

Throughout her long, harrowing ordeal, she relied on the support of her family, friends and her now-late mother, whom she calls “her rock,” along with the financial assistance of the Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition, a Lindenhurst-based nonprofit dedicated to breast and gynecologic cancers that offers advocacy, education and support services.

The cancer survivor says the disease has taught her powerful life lessons. “I had to learn how to ask for help, which is something I never do, and I had to learn to be open about my journey,” said Melody.

Her advice to those facing a breast cancer diagnosis is to “stay positive and trust medicine.”“There are so many new treatments out there,” she said.

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