For over two decades, Jackie Waters stood at her sister Tracy Bartlett Siemer’s side as she bravely battled a rare form of brain cancer. After witnessing how much her sister took on with humor, almost no complaints, and never a “why me?”, Jackie challenged herself to be a better person and figure out a way to give back. Her plan… help other courageous heroes, like Tracy, who take on medical challenges with great strength and superhuman grace every day.
In 1991, Tracy was seven months pregnant when she was hit with devastating news. There was a tumor the size of an egg in her brain. It was a rare cancer called Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma and it came with grim prospects. Tracy was told that out of only fifteen documented cases of this disease, she was the first and only survivor. What would have understandably crushed anyone on the receiving end of that diagnosis, made Tracy determined to defy the odds and beat it.
With her beloved sister Jackie by her side, Tracy battled through four surgeries, countless physical and emotional trials, and conquered even more obstacles. Staying positive and keeping her sense of humor were always her go-to weapons of choice.
About 10 years into the diagnosis, Tracy got the idea to take on a superhero persona, as a fun way to continue to stay strong for her family and friends. She called herself “Superwoman T?Si”, bought herself a costume – Superman pajamas – and, at Jackie’s suggestion, started to think of her cancer as her arch nemesis (because every superhero has one of those).
For the next 10 years, “Superwoman T-Si”, with the support of her SuperFriends (real life friends and family), took on the return of her cancer (a.k.a. “Crazy Blond Diva”) with everything she had. A comic book was even developed to document their story.
Embracing happiness and laughter in the darkest of times was an eye opening experience for Tracy and Jackie. They realized how uplifting it was to take on Tracy’s disease in this fantastical way. They were also overwhelmed by the kindness it inspired in others.
Tracy asked, “How can we pay all these people back?” Jackie’s response was simple, “We may not be able to pay that particular person back, but we can pay it forward to others that need it.”
No one could have predicted the direction that Tracy’s life would take and all the people that would be inspired by her. With that, the sisters began to look outward, and decided to focus on children with chronic or prolonged medical conditions. Tracy and Jackie dreamed of creating an engaging and fun-filled, comic book style environment where these kids could create their own hero story, and share their superhero persona with friends, family and a network of other superheroes, who, in turn, could offer their support and involvement. That’s when the idea for Help Your Hero was born, though Tracy never got to see it through to complete fruition.
On May 24, 2012, after an epic and valiant 21 year battle, “Superwoman T-Si” was overtaken by “Crazy Blond Diva” and sadly, Tracy passed away.
What she left behind is an amazing legacy, one that Jackie is only too happy and too willing to carry on. Since, Jackie has written Tracy’s memoir and worked tirelessly to develop the website that she and her sister envisioned.
HelpYourHero.org launched just 3 months ago in November 2013, and is now actively seeking Superheroes, Sidekicks and SuperFriends in Tracy’s honor.
Tracy is the site’s first official Superhero and any children who become part of its magical, make believe Hero-verse are welcomed in to an uplifting network of positivity. They get to choose their superhero caricature, name their superhero, and their arch nemesis. Within their own hero’s headquarters, loved ones can participate in their journey by helping to create fun stories about their life as a superhero.
We think Help Your Hero is simply awesome and say “Brava!” to Tracy and Jackie, two Women You Should Know, for being shining examples of what it means to so selflessly pay-it-forward.
Special thanks to Tanya Bartlett for letting us know about these two incredible sisters. In speaking about Jackie she told WYSK, “Working with her has made me a better person. Though I had some knowledge before, I have a deeper understanding now of what it means to be a caring and compassionate person.”