Episode #21: Tracy Shaw

 
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Tracy Shaw, currently, serves as Assistant Vice President, Head of Business Owner Market Development for MassMutual. As a business development strategist; her work has influenced industries from financial services to employee benefit planning to health care; with focus on enriching the customer’s experience, streamlining processes, innovating products and their delivery, while enhancing RoI. Today, the insight-driven marketing programs delivered by her team offer business owners relevant education & solutions to grow and protect their businesses - now and for the next generation.

Beyond Shaw’s work life, she sits as a director of two national non-profit boards; SCORE and the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF). Through Maddie’s Herd, a grassroots patient advocacy organization founded by her daughter at the age of 13, she is dedicated to amplifying the voice of the rare disease community, especially primary immunodeficiency diseases.

Additionally, Shaw holds a patent for a retirement safety net strategy, 401kSecure, a MBA and, briefly, a world record.

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In pursuit of answers for her daughter, Madison, Tracy Shaw went on a diagnostic odyssey. Madison was often sick and took much longer to recover than other kids. When she entered middle school, her symptoms became more acute. When Tracy arrived at an immunologist's office with her binder of research from Madison’s 13 hospitalizations and visits to 21 doctors over a period of two-and-a-half years, she was sure she had found an answer--finally. Thanks to Tracy’s work, Madison was diagnosed with common variable immune deficiency (CVID), and both she and Tracy soon became deeply involved in advocacy work for primary immune deficiencies. On today’s episode, Tracy and I talk about the judgement she faced as a single parent and caregiver, why she was inspired to tell her story and work for change, and how she navigates being a safety net for Madison while letting her chart her own course.

My job is to make sure she doesn’t need me. So everything I’ve done her whole life was to hopefully build some confidence that she could take care of herself.

Here are some of the things Tracy and I chatted about:

  • Why her entire life changed not when Madison was born, but at the start of her pregnancy

  • Madison’s incredible explanation of how common variable immune deficiency behaves

  • The most challenging aspect of Madison’s disorder, now that she’s a student in college

  • Why going to work was a practical and necessary component of Tracy’s job as a caregiver

  • How her skills in different fields came together to help her obtain a diagnosis for Madison

  • The moment, walking in an airport, when she put the pieces of the diagnostic puzzle together

  • What it was like to see Madison accept the Luciano Vassalli Award for her advocacy work

  • The significance of “thinking zebra” in the medical setting, and how that inspired Maddie’s Herd

  • The sense of community that Madison gained as a camper at Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

  • Tracy’s work with the Immune Deficiency Foundation, and why she’s so driven to effect change

  • Why it was incredibly emotional to learn that Madison had received a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation

  • The amazing experience of traveling to Iceland with Madison and seeing the power of a wish

  • The “year of nothing” she promised herself as an empty nester, and her search for what’s next

I never wanted to be more wrong in my whole life, and I was so relieved to have an answer.

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