12 Days of Giving

12 DAYS OF GIVING
GRATEFUL PATIENT SPOTLIGHT

Tracy Hammer is a Grateful Patient…

Having access to immediate, effective healthcare treatment and maintaining a positive attitude are important factors in beating a cancer diagnosis as far as Tracy Hammer is concerned.Tracy Hammer - video

It was April 2015 when Tracy was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer after she found a lump in her right breast during a self-examination. A mammogram confirmed it and she was referred to surgeon Dr. Denise Schnider to consider the options for treatment.

“It was fast,” said Tracy.

Two weeks after receiving her diagnosis, Tracy had her first surgery at the Brant Community Healthcare System (BCHS). A check-up two weeks later indicated further surgery was required to remove lymph nodes. Dr. Schnider performed that second surgery another two weeks later.

Tracy then met with Medical Oncologist Dr. Bryan Lee at the Brant Community Cancer Clinic at the BCHS to determine the best course of treatment.

Together, they decided on chemotherapy and radiation along with infusions of Herceptin – a treatment that uses the body’s immune system to prevent the growth of cancer cells.

Tracy Hammer - Grateful Patient

From left: Oncologist Dr. Lee, Oncology RN Amy Welsh, grateful patient Tracy Hammer and Oncology RN Jane Pearce.

“If there’s cancer running through me, I guess it’s a good kind because they have all these treatments for it,” said Tracy.

During her treatment, Tracy did her best to maintain her active lifestyle. She was physically
active each day to some degree, and trained her dog Willow. Willow was just a puppy at the time of Tracy’s diagnosis, so provided a welcome distraction from health-related matters.

She received chemotherapy treatments every two weeks for four months at the Cancer Clinic. The treatments did cause nausea and hair loss, but Tracy’s husband, Dale Hammer, was supportive and he shaved his head when Tracy did. Tracy’s mother Linda Torek was also a major supporter
and attended most of Tracy’s chemotherapy appointments to keep her company during the lengthy visits.

“The first time I went in for chemo, I’m not going to lie, it was like the room of terror,” said Tracy. “You can’t prepare.”

But the staff at the Cancer Clinic helped set Tracy’s mind at ease. She said they explained everything very well and were respectful of all
the patients. Tracy learned a lot from the staff
and felt her questions were respected and well-answered. Staff also provided suggestions and explained to Tracy what she could expect during her treatments.

“They don’t look at you with pity,” said Tracy, adding the staff was attentive and alert to each patient’s needs. “They’re paying attention, and they listen.”

Staff and other patients could tell when someone needed a supportive word or distraction.

“You didn’t really get a chance to wallow in it, or feel pity,” said Tracy, who admits she had her moments of feeling down about her situation, but tried to shake them off.

When Tracy returned for her second round of chemotherapy treatment, she was much more relaxed and started to get to know the other patients who were receiving treatment near her.

“Everybody hurts in there; the patients, the family, the staff,” she said. “Everybody hurts, but nobody hurts each other.”

Sitting beside other people in the Cancer Clinic, Tracy said she realized she had it better than many of the others and it made an impact on her. She said she has learned to be more positive, more patient and more kind to others.

“When you sit beside the ‘long-timers,’ you learn perspective,” she said.

“I’m alive. It’s totally changed my life. Everything is just so much more beautiful.”

As Tracy and her family knows, when crisis or illness impacts you or a loved one, the Brant Community Healthcare System is here to offer you exceptional healthcare in your time of need.

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