Prior to being diagnosed with Stage IVB Hodgkin Lymphoma with bulky disease, Gracie tended to be quiet and reserved, not so much shy as thoughtful, studious and fiercely loyal to her friends and siblings. Since her diagnosis in January 2017, “she has really come out of her shell,” says her mom Michelle. “Gracie has become bolder and less likely to stay in the background.”
For a young, vibrant teenager enjoying a carefree freshman year in high school, Gracie’s cancer diagnosis was devastating for her entire family. “We were shattered with the diagnosis and were terrified our child might die,” says Michelle. “That alone changes a family in huge ways.” Her family learned how to ask for and accept help, how to slow down, how to appreciate even the smallest of victories. “We simply don't sweat the small stuff,” says Michelle.
Gracie is an avid reader, enjoys singing in the choir, and loves to hang out with her friends. She has an obsession with make-up and skincare, loves to shop, and is looking forward to going to Friday night football games as a sophomore at Valley High School. She recently began weight and strength training at the Walnut Creek YMCA and has also started working in their youth program to help fund her shopping sprees.
Rather than allow her diagnosis and ongoing treatment to affect her attitude or character, she faced every obstacle with amazing courage and breathtaking confidence. Even while enduring six months of treatment, including five cycles of chemotherapy and 14 rounds of radiation, Gracie rarely, if ever, complained. She continued to attend school and maintain her grades. Without even realizing it, she showed her friends, family and community how to face extreme adversity and fear with poise and maturity.
In July 2017, doctors gave Gracie the news that her scans show no evidence of cancer.
“She battled like a warrior,” says Michelle. “She did everything that was demanded of her, faced every scary phase and fought with her head held high and with a bravery I have never seen in my life.”
Gracie doesn't see herself as brave or as anyone's hero, but that's exactly what she is to everyone who loves her. In a time when it seemed impossible to feel anything but defeated and weak, it was Gracie's courage and strength that changed her family the most.
“We witnessed our daughter become a survivor,” says Michelle. “We're all living our life bolder and less scared. And we love more. That's the best way I can say it.”