Comedienne Finds Laughter through Breast Cancer Fight
Second-City Trained Comedienne Coming to Silver Cross October 12
Today, Tracy DeGraaf says getting breast cancer was a blessing. It was a bit of a different story at the time of her diagnosis in April 2016. In fact, the Christian author, speaker, comedienne, and mother of five boys, describes the first time she went in for treatment as being like a scared puppy. She met with Dr. Anne McCall, medical director for Radiation Oncology at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital, and DeGraaf walked out feeling confident and brave.
After Tracy was diagnosed at a local hospital she started doing research on the best places to get treated. That led her to the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital.
Tracy said she felt comfortable from the moment she came to Silver Cross. Dr. McCall gave her a smile and a hug the first time they met and after coming up with a plan it helped her feel at peace.
“I really did feel like I was able to get the best possible care in the Chicago area. I had the benefit of a large metropolitan facility with the convenience of a suburb and I didn’t have to get on the interstate to get here!” Tracy said.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The day she got the call from her doctor, her husband was working on one of their sons’ cars. She said it was hard for her to even speak at that moment. “I was expecting a normal screening and then go on with your life. So it was a big shock,” Tracy said.
“I cried for three days. I felt like that was a Jesus moment because he was dead for three days and then rose,” she laughed. “But after those three days, that was it. I decided I was not going to take the victim role. I’m going to take the survivor role. From now on, I’m going to be called a breast cancer survivor.”
Tracy’s case was brought before the Cancer Center’s weekly Multi-Disciplinary Breast Cancer Conference, which brings together several breast cancer experts to discuss test results and recommend a plan of treatment. Tracy also underwent prone breast radiation therapy which protects the organs while delivering precisely targeted radiation to the breast.
Using Cancer in Standup
It might seem a little weird to use a cancer diagnoses in her standup routine, but Tracy finds a way to make people laugh. “Dr. McCall told me a possible side effect of radiation is that the treated area could become higher and tighter. And I was like fingers crossed!” she joked.
“I don’t think there was day that went by that went by where Tracy didn’t brighten everyone’s day,” Dr. McCall said. “Her determination and positive outlook really helped with her treatment, and was an inspiration to others.”
“I know when I’m standing there in front of an audience of 300 to 400 women that a good portion of them are either overdue for their mammogram or they’ve never gotten one,” Tracy said. “Usually, that’s because of procrastination or fear. So I encourage them to get it done because a mammogram is your friend.”
Tracy even created a t-shirt that says “Jesus and a Mammogram Saves.” She added that catching her breast cancer early made a big difference and allowed her to avoid chemotherapy. That was all thanks to the fact that she didn’t put off her mammography.
Tracy said after her events there are many women who come up to her and tell her they plan to schedule their mammogram.
“I do feel like cancer has been a gift for me. It’s given me a renewed appreciation for the three ‘Fs’ in my life: faith, family, and friends.”
DeGraaf Coming to Silver Cross
Tracy will be at Silver Cross Hospital for her Life Happens, Laugh Anyway event for Ladies’ Night Out on October 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. Participants can enjoy an evening of laughter, shopping with several I Matter business partners, and tasty treats. There will be door prizes and the opportunity to schedule an appointment for a screening mammogram in the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health. Those who do schedule an appointment will receive an autographed gift from Tracy. Seating is limited for this free event. Register to attend at IMatter.silvercross.org.