Tracy Huddleston


Gladstone, OR


Tracy Huddleston is a mother of two daughters and two sons. On March 12, her 17 year old daughter, Marissa, was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Marissa had some horrible bruises and she had an injury from dance that was not healing, so she was taken to a physical therapist. Her therapist had seen leukemia before, so she was sent to the doctor that day and was diagnosed right away.

Tracy Huddleston felt kind of outside of the box due to this situation because it was a two percent chance that somebody at Marissa's age would have leukemia. On July 25, Marissa received a bone marrow transplant from her younger sister, Molly, and had no side effects. In September, she was out of the hospital and then she had a hundred days of seclusion. During that time, Marissa was still on chemotherapy. By Christmas, she left like she was getting her life back.

Family Relationship

Marissa has two big brothers and a little sister. She's kind of a middle child. And the boys both thought that they were going to be the match. They were sure, I know it's going to be me. And her closest brother, Cody, he just was absolutely sure. I know it'll be me. We've always been close and I'm just going to give my bone marrow. Molly was just fifteen years old and she didn't want anything to do with her. She's just like I don't know what that is, but I'm keeping my bone marrow.

Then, when the doctor called and told me that she was the perfect match, I didn't know what to do because she was young. Marissa couldn't wait and she said we feel like we have to tell her right away. So she told her. Molly said I feel like I won the lottery. She's like, “This is really exciting and I feel like I'm the winner because I get to do this.” I do think it changed the relationship, but unfortunately I don't think it changed for the better. I think it will someday. Because at Molly's age, Marissa was getting so much attention and it was really, really hard for her. I think she wanted her sister to shout from the mountain top that she was her hero. And she was sick, so she didn't do that. I think when she's older and when she understands, that it'll make a huge difference. She's eighteen now and she's starting to figure out things. The other day, she said somebody's child died that actually could have actually been her sister and she's so glad to have a chance to make her be here today.

A New Appreciation

There was so much good that came from cancer. We would sit around the table at night after Marissa was diagnosed with cancer and talked about the good things that happened in our life because of cancer. Like the people that were amazing or the way that we saw generosity, just overflowing towards our family. It was amazing to see that generated towards you. People that you didn't know, did know forever, or people that were poor giving you their last amount of money because they thought that you might need it. It was just an amazing, incredible adventure.

A Turning Point

I'm a Christian and Marissa is a Christian. We always felt like we were in the Lord's hand and I was always very confidence about that. Until one day when Marissa said I'm not going to wake up tomorrow. She was dead serious. She was high on all these drugs and she was sure that this was her last time on earth. And then I panicked. She was so drugged, but she really was positive and that night I was pretty freaked out. That was my turning point.

I remember staying up all night with her just talking to her, trying to keep her awake. I just felt like we had to get past that night. There's a point when you're sick and you have to decide if you want to live. I really believe that. You have to decide that I can do this and Marissa wasn't doing that. She wasn't coming back and she was starting to talk negative and starting to lose. That scared me.