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Frank Gray

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Traci Yingling stays positive in fighting pancreatic cancer.

Attitude, donations matter in cancer fight

The 10 months since Traci Yingling was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have been a tough time.

But when you’re faced with one of the deadliest forms of cancer, attitude can be as important as doctors, she said.

So Yingling, who is a nurse, tried to brighten the dark periods by having little parties before chemotherapy or radiation treatments, inviting her friends out for ice cream, frozen yogurt, Italian ice or some other treat.

She noticed that swarms of people have teamed up to call attention to other diseases, but when she realized no one was having a candlelight vigil in Fort Wayne to mark Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, she held her own little vigil in her backyard. Many of her friends joined in.

Like I said, when times are dark, you’ve got to make your own light.

Yingling was supposed to experience the brightest spot in her fight with the disease last December. Therapy was supposed to shrink the tumor in her pancreas, and then doctors would try to remove it.

But the tumor hadn’t shrunk as much as doctors at IU Medical Center had hoped, and at the last minute, they backed out of the surgery.

So friends set up a Traci Yingling Benefit Account at Wells Fargo Bank to help her with expenses, and Yingling plugged along. (People can donate to the account at any Wells Fargo branch).

She found a new doctor in Louisville and went through more chemotherapy to further shrink her tumor.

Those six additional rounds of chemo were about the lowest point in the 10 months she’s known of the disease, says one of Yingling’s friends, Lori Barkley.

But her emails were still perky and upbeat.

Monday night, she sent out an email saying she’d had a nice dinner and a good night’s sleep and that Wednesday morning, she would finally undergo surgery to try to remove the cancer.

The surgery was to take eight to 10 hours, and she would remain in the hospital for about a week.

After that, she’d be released but would have to stay close to the hospital, practically in the same neighborhood, for several more days in case there were complications.

Yingling planned to enter a rehab hospital where insurance would cover the stay, but she was told she wouldn’t be dependent enough to be admitted, so she will have to stay in a nearby hotel during that period.

Yingling, who hasn’t worked in about a year, will have to cover that expense herself.

She emailed friends that this news sent her into a tailspin, especially knowing it might be tough to find a room because the Kentucky Derby was coming up and horse lovers would be eating up the rooms.

But she’s got faith, she said.

So her friends are making another pitch for the Wells Fargo account, asking people to chip in and pay for her stay, and having some faith themselves.

Money helps, but so does attitude.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.