Monday, July 16, 2012

Cancer stole one of the good ones today

Around 1,500 people die from cancer every day.
But today that number feels different. Today, my own sister became a statistic.

Marla Tracy Pak was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme last August. Fought an ugly and losing battle for 10 months, and left us today, leaving a big void in the TracyPak Tribe.

I was asked to do a PechKucha talk the day I got the news last August. I called an audible and instead of talking about civic hacking, I talked about human qualities that make families, tribes and communities better. The qualities that my sister had.

I neglected to share that presentation last year, but here are the highlights...

  1. Be kind to every person you interact with and talk to strangers like you’ve met them before.

  2. Have empathy.

  3. Support the things your friends are passionate about regardless of your opinion.

  4. Celebrate nostalgia within your tribe.

  5. Spoil your nieces, nephews and neighbors’ kids.

  6. Converse with others with infinite optimism in your voice.

  7. Send surprise packages to people.

  8. Call an out of town friend or sibling and setup a long-weekend visit just because you can.

  9. Make a choice to relate to people rather than drawing contrasts.

Success in your personal relationships defines who you are. We should all be a little bit more like Marla.


  1. So sorry, Greg. I'll take your advice on what really matters to heart. May Marla's memory always be a blessing.

  2. Really sorry to hear this Greg. I lost my mother to cancer two years ago. It sounds like your sister was a really special person. Her memories will live on with you, and those moments are never lost.

  3. I'm so sorry about your sister, Greg. I will keep your family in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your beautiful presentation - it sounds like your sister was a very special person.

  4. Sorry for your loss Greg. What wonderful advise to live by!

  5. May you find comfort in your memories and love. It is a hard time when a dear sister dies. Be gentle with yourself too.Love wins.Donna(Melissa's friend)

  6. I hate to read this. I am sending loving thoughts to you and Melissa's extended tribe. Remembering Marla, always in her swimsuit, smiling, and ready to go. Blessings~Wendi

  7. Greg, We're so sad to hear about Marla and know this has been a terribly difficult and challenging time for all of you. How wonderful that you were able to have a year with her, to truly count your blessings, but how awful to lose her. She sounds like an amazing person. The 9 principles above are words/values to live by. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  8. Greg (and all the other Tracy's), I am so very sorry to hear about Marla. I will always treasure the emails that she shared with me when I was just a fledgling blogger. Notes in which she offered moral support on not just writing issues, but life and marriage. She was, truly, one of the special ones and the world will feel the loss along with your family. My love, thoughts and prayers are going out to all of you and I hope to deliver hugs in person next weekend.

  9. Greg, my heart goes out to you and your family. I am so sorry for your loss.

  10. You are absolutely right about loosing a "good one" - Marla was the best!!!!! We are so sorry. We will keep you all in our prayers.

  11. Greg, I was a Romeo classmate of Marla's. Indeed we lost one of the good ones today. I will remember her in so many fond ways. Always in her swim suit, always smiling and always possessing that deep down goodness. We have all said many prayers and will miss her. Hopefully there are no more days of suffering where she is now. Keep her memories close to your heart. She will never be forgotten.

  12. Greg - beautiful post - so sorry for your loss.

  13. Hi Greg: Very sorry about Marla - you guys have been amazing. What a family! love, maggie s.

  14. Jennifer Kinser BastinJuly 17, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    I send you and the entire family my deepest sympathies. I'm sorry to hear of your loss. You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. I am so very sorry to hear this sad news. It is evident you see the 'big picture' and what really matters in these fleeting moments we call 'life'. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. Thank you for blessing my life this morning.

  16. I'm so sorry for the loss to your family Greg.I could only re-iterate what others have said, though it could not be enough. I can only offer my heartfelt sympathy.

  17. Mary Preysz & familyJuly 19, 2012 at 12:35 AM

    Greg,Melissa and Family,...Oor sincere condolences to you all. I never had the pleasure of meeting Marla but she must have been a remarkable person. Strong as anyone could be for " hanging in for as long as she did....she seemed to have so many people who truly love and admired her. I hope it is a comfort to you all to know she battled hard but now is at peace. It reminds us all how precious every day is. Love you and your family, MP

  18. Meghan Healey GosselinJuly 24, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    Dear Greg,I'm not sure if you'll remember me but I grew up spending summers in Touisset Point with the rest of my Healey siblings. I remember you and Justin and Marla spending summers swimming down at the cove, playing tennis and TPCC softball!! Gosh, this is unbelievable news about Marla. Life is sooo short. Cancer is an insidious force, it has taken both my parents in the last 2 years... Please know that you and the entire Tracy clan are in my prayers... Marla will be busy watching over you all!! It's the little things in life that will show you that she looking after you!!!Many prayers and much love to you allSincerely,Meghan Healey Gosselin

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