Marshall County woman with same cancer as Brittany Maynard, devastated by her loss

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  In March of 2009 Tracy Spark was given news no one wants to hear.  Doctors had just found a tumor on her brain the size of a softball.

"Here, here in Alabama, they said you've got a year to a year and a half at best to live, " Sparks said.  "And that's with chemo and radiation starting immediately. "

Sparks says neither she nor her husband would accept the diagnosis and began searching for alternatives.  That search led them to Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.   Doctors there did something the doctors in Alabama had said was of no use, they did surgery and removed a large part of the tumor.

"Of course, I'm a fighter.  I'm a fighter.  And I have a very good team of people that back me.  My family, my friends.  My doctors.  My faith is strong.   You know, I'm not going to give up."

Sparks still has the tumor but it is under control with oral chemotherapy.   She says the death of Brittany Maynard, who chose to end her own life, has been difficult to accept.   She says she is not judging her choice, but that it's one she would have a difficult time making.

"My doctors in Duke that's one of their mottos is there is always hope.  There is always hope."

Sparks, who suffers from the same type of brain cancer as Maynard, says she hopes more people don't follow in Maynard's footsteps.

"But you know, my message if, if somebody out there sees what she has done and says that's the way to do it, oh please don't.  Please don't."


  • Christopher

    Thanks for your testimony. You are an inspiration for those who may suffer and offer hope to those who have given up.

  • LAC

    The was another wonderful story similar to this about a young lady named Lauren Hill playing college basketball. Its funny that women such as these just go about their business with no publicity, yet the women that makes the choice to “die with dignity” is failed a hero.

  • Nuclear Mike

    Each cancer can have a differing effect on each person’s physical being…may all have the successful results this young woman has in dealing with her cancer.

  • Dana Ingram

    I think it’s wonderful that you allow God to decide when it is time for you to go home. I believe we try to control to many of the decisions in our life and leave God nothing to work with. I believe our hope is in giving everything to God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me……

  • Beth

    My prayers are with you. My husband had the same cancer. He survived only 3 months after diagnosis. We also contacted Duke( the best source for this type CANCER) and he took an oral chemo, and underwent surgery. We knew the ultimate outcome but tried and exhausted all options. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. It is a very difficult diagnosis to deal with, I wish for you to enjoy your days , spend time with those you love and who love you. God bless you, your friends and family.

  • Milka Taylor

    Fight is all anyone can do. Thank you for sharing this, I too took this very hard as well. I do believe that God has our Docs prepared to do the things they do for those who have cancer. I am fortunate to be a Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor and every day is a gift. Of course, that is not an option, I sat bedside watching my best friend spend her last days and moments with her family and friends surrounding her. Hospice does a wonderful job so there are alternatives. I believe God can change anything and I know both he and my wonderful Oncologist saved me. Best wishes and thank you for sharing!

  • Jan

    Brittany Maynard had most of her tumor removed as well and it came back bigger than ever and very quickly. You cannot compare these two patients as their surgeries had completely opposite outcomes. You cannot generalize as pretend all patients respond to treatment the same when they don’t. Surgery helped one, but made it worse for the other. People need to stop judging Brittany. She was dying. There was not going to be a ‘miracle’ to save her. Surgery made it worse. This isn’t a woman who found out she had cancer and just decided to kill herself. She tried treatment first and it only got worse. Miracles are rare or else they wouldn’t be miracles. The people acting like she should have suffered need to get over themselves.

    • Kari

      While fighting is admirable, when the outcome would be measuring dying in days of extreme pain as my father, I believe that Ms. Maynard made the choice that was best for her. She was a gutsy lady and had more courage than you or I can imagine. Every person has to make the choice that is best for them. This young lady has not yet come to the point where she will face her death experiences. She may well change her mind if she could in those last days. We should respect everyone’s decision on how they want to die when their is a clear choice.

  • Joan Garrett

    God bless you, Tracy. You have chosen the better way and will be blessed for it and you will bless and even change people’s lives for your decision.

  • CBC

    Well that was self serving and useless. How dare one compare thier pain and suffering to anothers?
    As for who is more “holy” probably the one not touting thier choices while condemning others.

  • Peter

    Sad story… but there needs to be a little education about semantics and some word meanings in the reporting there. Not once, but a couple of times in this report it was said that this woman does not accept her DIAGNOSIS. That would mean that she does not accept the finding that she has a glioblastoma, which was her diagnosis. I don’t believe that’s true at all… she obviously accepts the fact that she has a GBM, and is seeking treatment for it (and I wish her well). What she doesn’t accept is her PROGNOSIS, what the anticipated outcome will be. Diagnosis and prognosis are two very very different things.

  • Duree

    That’s our girl! When she says she is a fighter, she really is a fighter! Love this woman so much! She means the world to me and my husband!

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