Tonight, at the Mandell Jewish Community Center in West Hartford, Connecticut, I said goodbye to my friend, Tracey Gamer Fanning, in a beautiful memorial service celebrating her life. I was surrounded by people of all faiths and backgrounds as we sat and listened to loved ones sharing her amazing life story and their experiences with her, as we sang her favorite songs, and as we ate cupcakes that she requested be served at her memorial service.
I met this remarkable woman through the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance, an organization she co-founded after she was diagnosed with brain cancer twelve years ago. With the lack of resources and support available for brain cancer and tumor patients, Tracey made it her mission to help others facing the diagnosis or for those caring for someone who was. With her efforts and perseverance, the CTBTA has raised over $2million dollars and assisted countless patients and families as well as provide funding for research. Given only a few months to live initially after her diagnosis, Tracey survived and thrived, and as I learned tonight, she really LIVED. She was a source of inspiration and for many including myself, a beacon of hope that even through difficult times, one can find hope and friendship.
Rabbi David Small shared a quote tonight which resonated with me, “The grief of loss, is the price of love.” I am incredibly sad for your loss Tracey, but I will forever be rich with your love and memories. You were kind, beautiful, and humble. I will remember my cane carrying counterpart at future CTBTA events, though mine was never as fancy as yours. Saying goodbye tonight was difficult, but I am so grateful to have known you.
For anyone dealing with a brain tumor or cancer diagnosis or for anyone caring for someone who is, there is help and a community of survivors, patients, and caregivers. Please visit the https://www.ctbta.org/ for additional information. I am honored to have the privilege of being a part of Tracey’s work.
Until we meet again Tracey, I will always remember your kindness and beautiful smile. May you Rest in Peace.