CUMBERLAND -- Tracy Fay, owner of Lizzy's Enchanted Creamery, has had her share of ups and downs.
I have been Tracy's account representative at The Call, The Times and the Neighbors publications for three and one-half years, and in that time I’ve seen those ups and downs for myself. Tracy opened her business, Lizzy's Enchanted Creamery, on Mendon Road in Cumberland, eight years ago. This was not your typical ice cream shop; she took pride in making her own ice cream and gelato. She would take customers’ suggestions for new flavors and even include the Girl Scouts to create flavors using Girl Scout Cookies. Tracy not only offered ice cream at her shop, she also combined children’s toys, books, puzzles and more to bring customers in and enjoy themselves while they were there.
As the business grew, she also added many events such as reading time, crafts classes, holiday events and so much more. She enjoyed what she did and rarely took time off for herself. No matter how hard Tracy worked, however, there were obstacles that were completely out of her control, such as the weather. Spring of 2009 was especially difficult; we really didn't have a spring that year. This is a time when her customers would normally stop in and try the new flavors and they knew summer was just around the corner but the bad weather combined with the tough economy made it a very difficult year. I knew from experience how it feels to have no control over your own success and would just sit with Tracy and talk. She would jokingly tell me to send her a bill for her therapy session. I wish now I could provide one of those therapy sessions and cure her most recent troubles: Tracy has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has decided to close Lizzy's Enchanted Creamery. As her husband Rob put it, "You can't fight two battles."
It was a very difficult decision for Tracy to make, however. Even with her own battle she had hoped to continue running the shop but quickly realized how tough that would be. Her mother, Kathy Stenovitch, comes down from New Hampshire every week to help run the store and help with Tracy and Rob's three children, Taylor, 13, Garrett, 6, and Logan, 4. As Tracy told me, "I couldn't have made it this far without her." Her sister, Nadine Stenovitch, even flies over from Burbank, California once a month for a week to help at the store and with the kids.
If Tracy could have fought this battle alone with no one knowing, she would have, but word quickly got out around town and now she is completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from her family and friends. She is surprised by the number of people who just stop by to offer any help they can, from babysitting to making meals; anything to relieve Tracy's stress and workload. All of this support actually helped her make the decision to close.
"When you get a diagnosis like I got, you feel alone. It didn't matter that I had the support of my immediate family, I felt like I was letting other people down and that I needed to continue for everyone else,” she said. “I thought of my customers and their favorite ice cream, of the kids I saw grow up coming to my shop year after year. But as I began my chemotherapy, I knew I had no choice. "
As Tracy spoke to me about about how much she will miss her customers, her eyes watered so I changed the subject, otherwise we both would have been crying. But she did express how excited she is about spending more time with her husband and three children. She is also looking forward to this year’s Relay For Life event taking place on June 10 and 11.
"I became involved with Relay For Life three years ago when Amy Moore, head of Relay for Life Cumberland, called me for a donation,” Tracy said. “I decided to put my own team together in memory of my aunt, uncle and grandparents that I lost to cancer. This year has new meaning and I now have two teams: Lizzy's Illuminaters and Lizzy's Fireflys."
Tracy is still involved in the planning process as well and will have a fundraiser on Saturday, April 30, from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Cumberland Public Safety Union Hall. The event is called "Eat Chili - Fight Cancer Chili Cookoff." Tickets are $5.00 with all proceeds benefiting The American Cancer Society. (For more information, e-mail Marty at firstname.lastname@example.org ).
While Tracy has put together many events and fundraisers for The American Cancer Society, it's time for her to take a step back and let someone else do something for her. One of her customers, Nancy Pelletier, who has become a very good friend, has put together an event for Tracy. It will take place on Monday, May 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Cumberland House of Pizza. Donations are $25.00 and will include food, raffles and entertainment by local musician Joe Silva. (For tickets, call Nancy at 401-952-1981).
While speaking with Tracy this past Thursday, I couldn't help but notice how much more relaxed she was. She has accepted the closing of Lizzy's Enchanted Creamery and is ready to move on to the next chapter in her life, as difficult as that may be. She knows she needs to put herself and her family first and although she has the biggest battle still to fight, she knows how much support she has and will be taking things one day at a time. She would like to thank all of her customers for supporting her business over the years and thank all of those supporting her today.
Although I am Tracy's account representative and not a reporter, I chose to write this story myself. In three and one-half years, Tracy became more of a friend than a customer to me. I could relate to the ups and downs of business, as I once owned my own business. But most important, I wanted her thoughts and feelings expressed in a way that can't be done without knowing her.
On behalf of The Call, the Times and the Neighbors publications, we wish Tracy and her family all the best.