Vicki's Story - Every face tells a story

Vicki's Story - Every face tells a story

"Every face tells a story...." is a quote from a very special woman whose name is Traci Runge; she is my sister-in-law.

As I sit across the room and look at her, I see a woman whose face radiates with love, kindness, hope, generosity, compassion, integrity and selflessness. A woman whose eyes appear to show worry but you can see the strength within, scared but comforted at the same time. Her slight wrinkles are from the hard work and the many hats that she wears, one of a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a cousin, a friend and a sister-in-law. Her smile is warm and gentle. Her soul is one that you can tell that she looks at the good in others and tries to take negativity from them and create positive outlooks. Her aura shines with her faith in God. She is a woman who wears so many hats of a different color, but right now, one of the most important colors of hats or titles of her life is pink and that of a fighter. Traci was diagnosed in April 2010 with breast cancer. Even after receiving her diagnosis, Traci is still one of the most giving and thoughtful women who you could ever know. She always puts her children, spouse, family and friends before herself and continues to do so to this day. Three years ago, while she was a cheerleading coach, a mother of one of the girls was diagnosed with breast cancer. Traci heard of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank. Without thinking twice, Traci donated healthy breast tissue with the hopes that one day this would help to find a cure for the future of her daughters and others. Little did she know, three years later, she would be diagnosed with breast cancer as well. With this being said, she immediately contacted the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank and again donated breast tissue, but this time, it was cancerous tissue, a donation that has never been done before from the same donor.

As time goes by, her hats fit differently now, they are a little looser as the chemo treatments have taken her hair, but they have not taken her spirit. Her smile continues to be warm and gentle, her eyes continue to shine with love, warmth and hope. Her laughter warms your heart and her soul radiates her faith and her love of her family, friends and others. She continues still to look at the positive even at her most difficult times. Traci is a strong woman spiritually and she is relying on her faith in God to see her through this. Through her treatments thus far, she has remained positive and upbeat no matter how sick the chemo makes her. She glows from love of others and her God and knows that there is a reason behind all of this and she continues to learn and grow from it. There isn't a day that goes by that her love of others does not shine through and her acts of kindness keep on going. When a little boy in her neighborhood was diagnosed with cancer, she made a point to go see him and do things for him that she could. Her compassion and desire to help others continues no matter how she is feeling. To this day, I look for ways that I myself and my family can help her and others as well (my mother-in-law is a two-time breast cancer survivor). I have donated healthy breast tissue and my daughters (ages 8 and 11) held a bake sale and raised $200 toward cancer research; this is only the beginning, there is so much more that we will be doing. I feel that Traci and the other fighters and survivors deserve so much more.

I write this today because Traci has touched so many lives of others that I don't think she realizes what an impact she has made on so many people. She deserves to be recognized for the woman and fighter she is. She is an inspiration to us all.

I am so honored to call her not only my sister-in-law, but also my friend and I am so blessed to have her in my life.

Vicki Runge-Helgeson