Tracie Benjamin's marriage proposal, breast cancer story go national

by: THE RACHAEL RAY SHOW - Tracie Benjamin was as natural as can be while talking to celebrity chef Rachael Ray on national TV. From left are Ray, Benjamin and Benjamins fiancé, Ryan Conner.Tracie Benjamin just might be having the most publicized romance in America.

The Lake Oswego native has been such a gracious and effective communicator about surviving breast cancer that she has become a media presence in the past month.

Her romance with her fiancé, Ryan Conner, spun into the western hemisphere on Sept. 15, when, while Benjamin was being interviewed on TV at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Portland, Conner surprised her with a kiss and marriage proposal. Stunned and delighted, she burst into tears of joy and giggled out “yes.” She has been giggling a lot ever since.

“The video of the proposal went viral,” Benjamin said. “After Yahoo called to ask to use the video, it spread like wildfire. Everything happened so quick. It’s been very surreal.”

Benjamin’s modern-day Cinderella story was irresistible, and her whole saga reached another level when she was contacted by the producers of the “Rachael Ray Show.”

“I was driving around doing the marketing for my business, and I got a message from Rachael Ray’s producer on Facebook,” Benjamin said. “I thought, ‘God, is this real?’”

“When the producers at our show read about Tracie and Ryan online they were immediately touched by the story,” said Paige Landsem, the show’s publicity director. “They reached out and brought them to the show to share their story.”

Soon, Ray’s staff was spending the day at Benjamin’s home and following her to the hospital for her final cancer treatment. The culmination of everything was Benjamin and Conner sitting down for an interview with the celebrity chef and talk show host on Sept. 21.

Benjamin had proven herself to be a media natural in her appearances on Portland television with her golden smile and charm in interviews, and she was totally unfazed by the prospect of being on national television for the first time.

“Ryan was a little nervous,” Benjamin said. “I wasn’t at all. I was excited for the experience. It becomes natural after a while.”

The interview with Rachael Ray went great. The aftermath of the interview was much better. Benjamin had suffered a nasty shock when she was informed she had breast cancer last year, but this time her surprise could not have been nicer. She was deluged with precious wedding gifts: wedding bands donated by the MiaDonna Jewelry Co., a wedding gown donated by “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” and Bridals by Lori, and a honeymoon trip to Bermuda from JetBlue Airways and The Reefs Beachclub.

by: THE RACHAEL RAY SHOW - Isn't this romantic? Ryan Conner and Tracie Benjamin look deep into each others eyes when she puts on her wedding dress for the first time.

Benjamin was completely surprised by the gifts, although, in retrospect, she said, she should have realized something was up.

“Rachael Ray’s producers told Ryan to get my measurements,” Benjamin said. “They said they wanted to have a backup dress ready for me on the show.”

After a yearlong struggle with breast cancer, life has gone over the rainbow for Benjamin. Wedding bells will ring for Benjamin some time in 2014, and after strenuous treatment and surgery, she is now cancer free.

Cliff Newell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 105.

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