The Linden Woods community has banded together to help a mother of five find the help she needs during her ongoing battle with cancer.
At 45, Tracey Herms was a part-time emergency room nurse who just wanted to raise her five daughters in a happy, healthy environment.
In 2010, however, she received news that has changed her family’s world.
"I was diagnosed three and half years ago, in May 2010, with breast cancer," Herms said.
Now the community is supporting her efforts to raise money for holistic and naturopathic treatments at the Oasis Healing Centre in Mesa, Ariz.
Together, through online donations, friends and family members have managed to raise $50,852 of a $72,000 goal.
On Sat., Sept 14. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. her church, Immanuel Pentecostal Church (955 Wilkes Ave.) will be hosting a car wash and bake sale to raise more funds to help with the cost of her treatments, which total $9,000 per week.
At the beginning of her journey, Herms did what everyone does.
"They go to their doctors, they have biopsies," said Herms. "I had assessments, saw a surgeon, went on (chemotherapy), and had a lumpectomy."
After numerous rounds of chemotherapy, bilateral reconstructive, and bilateral mastectomy surgeries in December 2011, things went from bad to worse.
Her older sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and while they received treatment together, her sister passed away in July 2012.
Herms carried on with her battle and after more chemo, radiation therapy, and intense targeted chemotherapy, she finally decided this past February to be taken off treatment because of the negative side effects.
"The thinning of my nails, aching joints, sores in my nose, just numerous side effects that are just not great for quality of life," said Herms.
In June, Herms visited her oncologist again only to be told her cancer and tumour markers were rising.
"So my doctor had told me more chemotherapy, surgery was not an option," said Herms. "She kind of just gave me a sheet, which was a ‘do not resuscitate’ order."
That’s when Herms decided to take matters into her own hands.
"There was no way I was going to do chemotherapy again," said Herms. "I have too many kids and the quality of life that chemotherapy gives you is not quality, it’s quantitative, not quality. So I figured if this was my time to die, then I was going to do that feeling somewhat normal rather than bald and fat and miserable."
However, throughout her battle with cancer, Herms had been doing some research of her own. She discovered holistic and naturopathic treatment centres which were reporting success, but everything was too expensive. Without help from her community, Herms knows she would not be in Mesa receiving the help she needs.
Currently, her husband Reinhard is with her, but he will soon return to Winnipeg to take care of their five daughters Katherine, 18, Michelle, 17, Sarah, 15, Heather, 13, and Jennifer, 7. While he is away, Herms’ friends will be going to visit her for a week at a time.
"I’ve been very overwhelmed at the love and support that we’ve received," said Herms. "Truly I don’t feel that I’m worth it. But obviously other people feel that way. We had no idea that people would give as freely and openly as they have."
In addition to the car wash and bake sale on Sept. 14, Herms’ daughters’ school’s parent council will be hosting a social in her honour on Sept. 28 at the Anavets Hall at 3584 Portage Ave. in Westwood.
For more information on the car wash and social, or to donate to Herms’ treatment costs, visit helptraceybeatcancer.com