A fine romance
Tracie Benjamin's marriage proposal, breast cancer story go national
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. Its been very surreal.
Benjamins 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 Rays 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 shows publicity director. They reached out and brought them to the show to share their story.
Soon, Rays staff was spending the day at Benjamins 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 wasnt 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.
Benjamin was completely surprised by the gifts, although, in retrospect, she said, she should have realized something was up.
Rachael Rays 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.