Celebrating the Life of Tracey Gamer-Fanning

|| October 29, 2018


AVON – Monday, October 29, 2018 – The Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance (CTBTA) today celebrates the amazing life and legacy of its co-founder and a true champion of hope and brain tumor awareness, Tracey Gamer-Fanning. Tracey’s resounding 12-year battle with brain cancer ended with her passing on Friday, October 26, 2018, at her home in West Hartford, surrounded by her loving family.

Tracey’s husband of nearly six years, CTBTA Board Secretary Greg Shimer, said today, “I plan on not mourning my wife, but celebrating her life, using those good feelings that I get when I think of her to keep going. Tracey wanted me to help make things a little more sweet and taste a little better with her memories and that’s what I plan to do.”

“Tracey’s journey was a wonderful, almost magical time; she lived more in 12 years than most people could say that they did in a lifetime. She made every day an adventure – whether we were dancing at midnight on the North Pier in Chicago or simply having a drink in front of a firepit – her smile was magic. She was my fairy princess and she made me not want to grow up, to stay with her forever. But that time has ended, precious items cannot last forever, that’s what makes them special,” Mr. Shimer added.

“Her work and legacy will live on with friends, with family and with the CTBTA. The people she helped, the hundreds of families affected by brain tumors, are the largest reason why she lasted as long as she did. It gave her purpose and drove her to make change happen with whatever little time she had left.” 

Unsurprising to anyone who knew her, Tracey decided before her death to write her own obituary “so my amazing husband Greg doesn’t have to do this alone.” The obituary was its own celebration of the life she lived and those she was able to help, and included the following: 

“In my lifetime, I was a model, Broadcast Journalist, Advertising Manager, writer, daughter, sister, mother, stepmother, friend and lover. I was lucky enough while I was alive to climb the Great Pyramids of Egypt, pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, sail thru the Panama Canal, go dog sledding in Alaska, dance in the streets in New Orleans, walk countless miles exploring New York City, see the Eiffel Tower and have a real King fall in love with me… and marry Greg, my knight in shining armor. Ever since being diagnosed with Brain Cancer in 2006, I have lived the best life!”

Tracey, who was 48 at the time of her passing, co-founded the CTBTA after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2006 and being told she had three to five years to live. Resolute to help others and to try and bring comfort to the lives of brain tumor patients and their loved ones, the CTBTA was created in 2007 and Tracey became a tireless advocate for advances in brain tumor treatment, according to her friend and CTBTA Board President Jennifer Pace. 

“Tracey will always be one of the most vibrant people I’ve ever met! Her love, laughter and wittiness was contagious. We met after both being diagnosed with brain tumors, and she was most passionate about showing others how to live a beautiful life despite a brain tumor diagnosis,” Ms. Pace said. “She showed the world how to live with brain tumor. I am committed to carrying on her legacy of support and compassion for brain tumor patients and caregivers, so no one has to face this disease alone. I will miss her dearly along with so many others, but I will do what she would want me to, and that’s to continue her fight.”  

CTBTA Executive Director Chris Cusano, a brain tumor survivor who himself was moved to action by Tracey’s leadership and passion with the CTBTA, said today: “Tracey's legacy will remain with me, and everyone who knew her, forever.  From the day I met her in 2013, she was a beacon of hope.  Her smile filled the room and her outlook on life was like nothing I have ever seen.  She radiated positivity and gave all brain tumor patients and their caregivers hope and promise for a better tomorrow, and along with my colleagues at the CTBTA, I am fully committed to carrying out that mission.  She will be missed dearly, but never forgotten.  She is part of the reason that I am sitting in this chair today, and I am forever grateful and dedicated to continuing her life's work of improving the lives of brain tumor patients and ultimately, finding the cure.”   

Tracey is preceded in death by her grandparents Sidney and Shirley Packales, Harry and Ruth Gamer and her father, Don Gamer. She is survived by her mother, Terry Gamer, her husband, Gregory Shimer and their children and stepchildren – Mitchell, Shaye, Abigayil, Julia and Hannah – her sister, Jen Pfeffer, her brother-in-law, Jonathan Pfeffer, their children Michael, Ally and Owen, her cousins David and Danny and Jaime, her aunt, Susan Gamer, her sister-in-law Katherine Dallaire, and children Addison and Kaden; her father-in-law Paul Shimer, along with countless friends whom she has touched across the world. 

A celebration of Tracey’s life will be held at the Mandell JCC – located at 355 Bloomfield Avenue in West Hartford – on Saturday, November 3rd at 6 pm. 

About the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance

The Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated mission to providing hope and support to brain tumor patients and caregivers, while advancing brain tumor awareness, quality of care, and brain tumor research. CTBTA funds support Patient Assistance Funds, brain tumor research, local brain tumor programs, scholarships for survivors and caregivers, and patient outreach and awareness efforts.

Media Contact
Dan Tapper
Vice President, CTBTA
860-573-4236 (Mobile)

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