Tracey DuBree is the Chair of the upcoming Life and Breath Foundation Take A Breath For Sarcoidosis event on April 27, 2019. As someone who lives with the reality of the disease, and who has overcome it’s challenges, we wanted to take a moment to get to know her and learn her story so more people could understand this mysterious illness and gain insight from her resilience dealing with it.
Tracey, a Financial Advisor that handles wealth planning for families, individuals as well as businesses, was born and raised in Maryland. Today she volunteers with the Life and Breath foundation to be able to provide support and resources to others affected by the illness. We caught up with Tracey a few weeks before the first run, which is taking place in Hydes, Maryland, later this month.
Tracey, you yourself have been affected by Sarcoidosis, what can you tell us first hand about your experience with the disease?
Sarcoidosis is an elusive disease. It took about three months of severe joint pain, night sweats, fevers, fatigue, immense weight loss and enlarged lymph nodes before I was given a diagnosis. During that time, I felt like I was going crazy because the doctors couldn’t figure out what was making me so sick. Sarcoidosis presents in different ways, which makes it difficult to diagnose. The symptoms often mimic other diseases.
Initially I was told that it was most likely lymphoma because I didn’t have other symptoms indicative of Sarcoidosis, such a lung involvement. It was a true struggle to maintain daily living. I did my best to work each day, take care of my family and attempt to be active, sometimes, seeming nearly impossible to accomplish. I often felt inadequate because I couldn’t keep up, which lead to depression.
You are in remission now, while you were ill what did you find the most challenging aspect of living with the illness?
As with any autoimmune disorder or disease, you often look normal to others on the outside, yet feel terrible on the inside. The most challenging aspect of living with the disease, was still trying to do it all while feeling awful. Maintaining a career, running a household and having some quality of life was very difficult. When I was really sick, I often felt like a burden to my family and friends.
How did you stay motivated and keep hope that things would get better?
My twin sister was diagnosed about two years before I was diagnosed. Her disease process presented like a classic case of Sarcoidosis. When I became symptomatic, it wasn’t thought that it was Sarcoidosis because I didn’t have the symptoms nor was a familial connection linking family members at the time. Once I was formally diagnosed, I thought that it would go into remission like my sister’s did within two years. So in some ways, she gave me hope.
Also, my pulmonologist gave me hope. I would usually cry at every visit to him because I felt that he understood my struggles. I battled the disease actively for almost a decade and even at my low points, he would never let me give up. Most importantly, my two beautiful children were my main motivation. I wanted so much to feel good and healthy for them.
Once I went into remission, I really felt like God had given me a new lease on life and that I were truly here for a reason and not a burden anymore. I had never participated in organized sports; however, I decided to participate in triathlons and marathons to raise money for different causes. I wanted to swim, bike and run for those who couldn’t. I want to inspire those struggling with any disease to not give up. While in remission, I’ve raised money for the National Brain Tumor Society, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, SARC, Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, LUNGevity and the Life and Breath Foundation. I also decided to coach youth soccer and baseball…why not?
Do women have different symptoms than men when they become ill?
Traditionally, Sarcoidosis affects African Americans more than any other race. African American women often have more severe symptoms than any other demographic.
What would you do differently then, if you knew what you know about the disease now?
Personally, I would be easier on myself and listen to my body more. Self advocacy is important, I would ask more questions and don’t accept “I don’t know” as an answer.
What resources are available to those suffering from Sarcoidosis?
The Life and Breath Foundation offers a lot of patient resources online. Although we would love to find a cure for Sarcoidosis, we know that it’s a tough mission. The foundation focuses on awareness, patient advocacy, self advocacy and education. GBMC Health Partners Complex Care is an excellent resource as they are dedicated to patients with diseases who have complex needs like Sarcoidosis.
The event on April 27th is a first for the Life and Breath Foundation, can you tell us a little bit about it and what participants can expect? The Take a Breath for Sarcoidosis 5K trail run, 1 mile walk and Kids Fun Run will be taking place at beautiful DeJon Vineyards in Hydes, Maryland.
This is a family fun event that offers kid friendly activities, and a full wine tasting for participants over 21 years of age. Participants of the race and walk will receive an Under Armour shirt and a DeJon branded wine glass. Our corporate partners at Pepsi will be providing hydration drinks and power bars. Paul’s Prime food truck will be on site as well. DJ Smoky from The Starboard in Dewey Beach, will play great music.
We’ll also have a special performance by Reggie Rice, three-time Comedy Magician of the Year. Rice has been the opening act for Jordin Sparks and First Lady Michelle Obama five times, and has been featured on Travel Channel performing his magic for hundreds of thousands all over the world. As a Sarcoidosis patient, he also has a special connection with the Life and Breath Foundation.
Where can people get more information about the Life and Breath Foundation?
If people want to get involved or help are there volunteer opportunities that day, or throughout the year?
Again, I would direct them to www.lifeandbreath.org
About Tracey DuBree
Tracey has over 20 years of experience as financial services professional. She’s been a Financial Advisor with UBS Financial Services, Inc. since 2003 (UBS Financial Services, Inc. is not affiliated with the Life and Breath Foundation or University of Baltimore Foundation). She is on the board of directors for the University of Baltimore Foundation and serves on their Investment Committee as well as the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee. As a board member of the Life and Breath Foundation, Tracey is Committee Chair for the Take a Breath for Sarcoidosis 5k event. A native of Severna Park, Maryland, Tracey graduated cum laude with her B.A. in Finance from the University of Baltimore. She continues to reside in Bel Air, Maryland with her two children, Evan and Gavin. Her interests include coaching youth baseball and soccer, philanthropy, triathlons, marathons, mentoring patients with Sarcoidosis, gardening and enjoying time with family and friends.