The brain tumor community lost one its greatest advocates and the fiercest warrior I have ever met, and perhaps will ever know, this past Friday.
Tracey Gamer-Fanning-Shimer, a co-founding member of the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance and its first Board president, passed away after her courageous battle with brain cancer.
Diagnosed in 2006 and given three-to-five years to live, she inspired many and touched countless lives, including mine. I first reached out to the CTBTA in 2013, five years after being diagnosed and in need of an outlet for support and comfort. The organization welcomed and embraced me with open arms, but Tracey and I had a special bond that I will cherish forever.
I know I am not alone in this, but she taught me the meaning of perseverance, love and how to truly enjoy life. She was the most selfless and inspirational person I have ever met. Never once did she complain or feel sorry for herself. Always smiling and having a good time, she would come out and say something that made you do a double-take, but this was the Tracey that we knew and loved.
Yet, aside from how great of an individual she was, she also changed lives and made a profound impact on the brain tumor community, especially here in Connecticut. The one thing about Tracey – she always, always put her friends and the brain tumor patients before her. She allowed us to have a voice and spill our emotions. Even when I knew she was not feeling her best, she would attend a Gray Ribbon Club meeting so that she can provide comfort and hope to someone battling. She would often remind me – we are paying it forward. That sort of compassion and love is not something you see everyday.
So Tracey, thank you for changing my life and the impact you made on me. I admire you and everything that you did. I will hang tight to the memories we shared and I promise to continue your fight. It was an honor and my privilege to work alongside you in this mission and I promise to make you proud.
Rest in peace, my dear friend and I will see you again.