Tracy Hunt Casey

All The Footprints In My Sand
One woman’s memoir a study of hope in the face of adversity

A York alumnus has penned a remarkable account of her journey through fear, grief, resolution, and, ultimately, self-determination. All The Footprints In My Sand (AEG Publishing Grp, 2008) is the memoir of Tracy Hunt Casey (class of ’94), a chronicle of her experiences through her mother’s struggle with ovarian and breast cancers, and the decisions she was ultimately forced to make.

Direct and honest, the work is a series of journal entries marking her passage through the heartbreaking loss of her mother, and the subsequent shock of discovering her own chances of inheriting the condition.

“The journal began as a way of dealing with the loss of my mother – a way for me to cope, to get my feelings down on paper”, says Casey. “This became a series of conversations with her, a way of keeping her in my life”.

Researching ovarian cancer and the treatments available led Casey to discoveries both stunning, and ultimately, life-saving.
“I knew that ovarian cancer was genetic, “she explains. “I was looking for different tests that they can do. While looking I discovered that breast cancer could also be hereditary, and that’s when I stumbled upon the BRCA1 and DNA testing.”

The BRCA1 test can identify a genetic mutation which is known to lead to certain types of cancer. For those with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing can yield important information, and while this is not recommended for all women, those in a high-risk group are advised to consult their doctor.

“I’m thankful my mother took the (DNA) test. She always wondered why she got the disease, and unbeknownst to her she saved my life. She passed before she found out (the results of the test).”
After testing positive for the mutation, Casey faced the options of “yearly, pinpointed physicals, MRIs and ultrasounds. Another option would be lifelong tamoxifin drug therapy. A radical prophylactic mastectomy was the surest way of beating the disease.” For Casey, opting for surgery allowed to her to take control of the disease and move on with her life.

There are two reasons Casey wanted to share her personal story. “I hope it draws attention to the fact that breast cancer is hereditary, and preventable. Prevention is key in fighting any cancer. Whether it’s eating healthy, getting blood tests, getting a physical every year, or getting more information on your family history, prevention is the key to fighting this disease. “
“Also, the importance of a positive attitude, never giving up. Move forward, and be grateful for the people in your life.”

All The Footprints In My Sand can be ordered through the University Bookstore, or online at Amazon.com (author: Tracy Hunt Casey; ISBN: 978-1-60693-154-7) or through AEG Publishing Grp.

[YORKwrites would like to thank Patrick Russel for providing this profile]