Tributes roll in for much-loved Grafton girl Tracey-Lee
TRIBUTES are flowing thick and fast for the beautiful, dynamic Grafton woman who always had a smile for everyone.
Tracey-Lee Schuhmacher died on Sunday afternoon after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.
The 23-year-old was given a second chance at life last month when she received a double lung transplant, but tragically her body rejected the lungs and she was placed in an induced coma just over a week ago.
She died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday evening.
Tracey-Lee's aunty June Colgrave said hospital staff did everything they could to give her the best possible outcome, and had supported Tracey and her family and friends through a very difficult month.
Mrs Colgrave said she would remember her niece as a very bright, bubbly young lady with an amazing inner strength.
"She always had a smile for everybody, and no matter what she faced she didn't allow it to get her down," she said.
"She was very little but very dynamic and very resilient. After being so ill for so long she ever lost that smile. She'd say 'I'm here and I'm okay' and no matter what she faced she bounced back.
"She just touched so many people's lives and she loved people."
Tracey-Lee was an active campaigner for cystic fibrosis research, and Mrs Colgrave said she would have wanted people to be aware of the chronic illness and what it meant.
She also highlighted the importance of becoming a donor; a gift that Tracey-Lee knew was very precious.
"If people can consider telling their families they would like to be transplant donors ... the discussion gives people a second chance at life," she said.
"Tracey would want people to get that message.
"She had cystic fibrosis all her life which made her who she was, and she came in contact with so many people because of it."
Mrs Colgrave said the friendships she formed with people through her illness, particularly the Melbourne Storm team, gave her a lot of highlights in her life.
"The best story she told me was that she went out for dinner with them and ate what they ate, then went back to the hotel room and ordered more food because she was still hungry," she said. "They couldn't believe that someone so little could eat so much but she burned energy very quickly. She could out-eat the Storm football players."
The Melbourne Storm's Purple Army, which supported Tracey-Lee on her journey, informed its followers of her passing on Facebook.
"May our little battler Rest In Peace, you'll be forever in our thoughts," they wrote.
Close friend Ebony Gillett said she was beyond proud of the strength Tracey-Lee showed throughout her life.
"In my eyes she's won because the one thing she said she would do in her lifetime was get that lung transplant and she did," she said. "I will never ever forget her, especially her contagious laugh. She was a beautiful person inside and out and was adored by everyone she met."
Ms Gillett, who is pregnant, said she knew Tracey would still be the best "aunty" she could possibly be.
"She (will) be up there looking down on her," she said.
A service for Tracey-Lee will be held at Grafton's Christ Church Cathedral at 11am on Tuesday, February 10. Attendees are requested to wear purple or yellow in her honour.
What some of her friends had to say on her Facebook page:
Elizabeth Hogg: Rest in peace you beautiful soul!! Your life was cut way too short, but the impact you made on many people will be cherished forever. You will always be the bright bubbly person I knew. Always in our hearts and never forgotten. Love you x
Hope McGowany: Little Trace, so many good memories from when we were little keep running through my mind, I'll never forget the times we shared, rest in paradise beautiful lady.
Samantha Divey: Words can never describe the impact you had on the lives of the people who met and loved you Tracey-Lee Schuhmacher. You are an inspiration and your memory will live on even with those who didn't know you. You had a flare for life little lady and lived it to the fullest while you had the chance. You fought so hard and are the bravest young woman i have had the pleasure of knowing. You will be desperately missed and forever loved!
Love, prayers and well wishes are sent to Traces Dad, Mum, Brothers and all of her friends especially those who loved her most, there are to many to list but you know who you are!
Breathe easy and fly free beautiful girl, please watch over all of us down here waiting for the day we meet again xxxx
Mary Grant: I am so blessed to have spent more than half my life loving you already Trace, 12 years of memories I will never forget. Love you always, rest easy.
Faria Chowdhury: Today heaven gained one of their cheekiest, most loving and kind hearted angels back. I am going to miss you so much Tracey. I Love You.
Morgan Gollan: Lost for words. You put up the bravest fight, now the most beautiful angel. I will forever miss you, rest easy Tracey-Lee Schuhmacher. I promise I'll go to a Storm game for you, like we planned. It won't be the same without you though.
Ryan O'Grady: Devastated with hearing this news tonight. Thanks for always being so tough, so positive and just being a great friend for the last few years. Melbourne is going to miss their number one fan and the world certainly lost a very special person. Rest easy Trace, will miss you.
In Tracey-Lee's own words...
IF I never had cystic fibrosis I'd be a little taller, my lungs would be a little fuller and my skin wouldn't be so salty.
If I never had CF I'd take my life for granted, be scared of doctors and hate the smell of hospitals.
The beach would be for tanning, the gym would be for losing weight and I wouldn't be complaining about being too skinny and praying to put on weight.
I'd be more selfish, I'd have ambition, less drive and less pride.
I'd slack off knowing I had a long life ahead of me.
I'd hug you less knowing I have a lot more days to hug you.
If I didn't have cystic fibrosis I wouldn't be me.
I wouldn't have the friends and support I have and I wouldn't have such a close bond with family.
I would be different, things would have been done different but I don't want different.
My inspiration and strength comes from what I have been through and makes me who I am today.
I won't give up, I'll keep fighting to beat Cystic Fibrosis no matter how much it tries to beat me.