Stupid cancer!

Stupid breast cancer attacked my friend Donna when she was 36. She had no family history of it whatsoever.

Stupid cancer!
After Donna had a mastectomy and a few rounds of chemo, we thought she beat it. Young and otherwise healthy, not to mention the sweetest woman you could ever meet… Of course she’d beat this.  Of course!

Stupid cancer!
Just when the doctors were considering reconstruction of her mangled breast, they found a tumor in the other one. And in the chest wall. She had another mastectomy.

Stupid cancer!
Donna fought and fought and fought. She went through chemo and radiation. She went across the country to Duke University for 3 months of concentrated, experimental treatments. She left her 3 daughters, her classroom full of 4th graders, her husband, and an entire community of supporters praying, waiting and hoping.

My friend Donna and her family in 2004

Stupid cancer!
As sick as she was, Donna had a generous spirit and an amazing faith in God. Donna openly shared her experience on a website her sisters set up.

With her intensely personal account of her treatment, symptoms, and the daily struggle, we learned that cancer is evil and malevolent. A calculating, unrelenting illness that started in her breast, moved to her skull, her ribs, her bones. It compromised her eyesight and forced her to wear an eye patch. It turned her gums to tissue paper that would bleed unexpectedly. It took her appetite and dropped her weight to double digits.

Stupid cancer!
If it took her spirit, she never showed it. She still attended her husband’s football games (He’s a HS football coach.) She still attended her girls’ sporting events. She bravely smiled through it all. She inspired an entire community. Literally, thousands of people. Through their schools and all the children she’d taught, all the friends she’d made, and even strangers who never met her but cried over her website updates.

Donna lost her battle on July 8, 2007. Five weeks after her 41st birthday.

Six weeks before she died, we got together for a relaxed lunch at a friend’s house. It was a lovely day and she posted later that evening that it really recharged her spirits.

This was the last time I saw her.
I’m glad that my last memory of her was a good one. I love this photo and it is one I have framed and where I can see it often.

Her funeral was attended by at least 1,000 people.  When he spoke, her husband said that there were three things Donna wanted for all of us:
  1. Think pink. Take care of our bodies, monitor our health, pay attention.
  2. Choose your day. Every morning when we get out of bed we have a choice regarding our attitudes and how we’ll handle the things life can throw at us.
  3. Pay it forward. Whatever the good thing that “it” is. Pass it on and do good in this world.
So in the month of October, when pink seems to be on everything, please spare a thought for those battling this horrible disease. Say a prayer. Donate a dollar. Donate your time. Tie a ribbon, wear a shirt.

When I do these things, I mostly do them for Donna.  Mostly.
One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Whether it’s you or someone you love, breast cancer will affect you. Take care of yourself.  That was Donna’s #1 request.  Regular check ups with your doctor are very important, but ladies, you need to do self exams too.

I don’t follow NASCAR, but I know who Danica Patrick is.  For one, it’s just dang cool that a woman driver keeps up with (and often beats) the guys, but also because a lot of my computer and website stuff is through Go Daddy, and they sponsor her.  This month her car is hot pink to remind us all to Check Our Headlights.  Do whatever you need to do to remember your self exam each month.  Set a text reminder, put it on your calendar, do it each pay day or on the last Wednesday of the month… whatever.  Just remember to do it and to do it around the same time each month.

Ask your doctor (or even YouTube) the proper way to do one and what to look for.

Keeping on top of this stuff is a bit of a nuisance, but it’s worth it.  Go Daddy is even rewarding you for promising yourself that you’ll Check Your Headlights.  They are offering 20% off your entire order if you use the coupon code STRENGTH, which is cool, but what is really great is that they give you an opportunity to donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation by rounding up your purchase.  Round Up For Charity is an easy, hassle free way to donate to a worthy cause.  

    Go Daddy would love to know your tip for reminding yourself to check your headlights and is giving away a $500 shopping spree to one lucky person who also registers for their newsletter!

    How to enter:
    1) Leave a comment below, sharing how you remind yourself to check your headlights
    2) When the contact form appears, complete three short fields to be entered to win the shopping spree
    3) That’s it! Don’t forget Go Daddy is giving 20% off domains, websites & more with code STRENGTH

    This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Go Daddy. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.
    about Vivienne Wagner

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