Donna just hit a milestone - 3 years since they found the awful "C" word in her body. She didn't wast time. Once the diagnosis was authenticated locally at St. Vincent's Hospital, she did some research on M.D. Anderson in Houston and to Houston they flew.
It's impossible for me to tell you .the litany of her experiences, suffice to simply say, it has been extremely painful. One drug helps one malady but causes another. It could be so difficult for some people that they might give up. However, I don't know what Donna and Michael would do if not for their beautiful faith and hope in God. He has been with them and led them in and out of good and bad while fighting this disease.
I ran into Donna and Michael at our parish not long ago when there was a Fourth Degree, Knights of Columbus celebration held at our church. I had not seen her in two years. Imagine, when I saw her and I wanted to run and hug her and tell her how much I love her. The lady that turned around and looked at me was the most jovial and happy lady, joking about wearing a hairpiece on the top of her head. She is amazing. .She has been through some of the most horrific pain imaginable and the side effects of medicine and a bone marrow transplant that was eventually performed.
I received an email from Donna yesterday letting me know that more maladies have arisen, and she has decided to let the local doctors at the Cancer Center at St. Vincent's do the testing and send it to M.D. Anderson for their review. She had been back to M.D. Anderson not long ago where they determined that she needed to go back on her bone marrow rejection medication. Which causes yet another adversities to battle.
Donna spoke freely of the tests and what she had to endure to save her life. She says that the first 13 bone marrow biopsies were performed while she was awake. She describes a horror of a long needle being pressed hard into her hip so that a sample can be drawn for biopsy. I assume she is now being sedated for the biopsy samples as she quotes that there have been a total of 40! I don't think I know any other woman who has the stamina, courage and dignity that Donna has displayed throughout her battle.
In the midst of this, her son Daniel who lives in Virginia, decided to marry and they have born two grandchildren to Donna and Michael. Thanks to the Almighty and Merciful God, she has had those spaces in time when she felt half-way well and she has been able to go and be with her son and his little family a few times.
She continues her involvement in the Outreach Ministry (The Guild of Our Lady of Guadalupe) through her parish, and is also strong proponent for Cancer Policies. She said that she and Michael had bought Cancer Insurance Policies when they first married. Imagine, that has probably been thirty years or more if I were guessing and here I am with no such insurance. She encourages me and everyone to check into it. She pushes herself to keep mobile, working at her parish one day a week and works with the RCIA, the shut-ins and the sick. She says, "I feel that if I slow down I will get sick again."
In the worst of times, the Catholic Nuns in Houston have provided her with a small one-bedroom apartment across the street from M.D. Anderson, and they provide a shuttle to take people from the apartments to their appointments. This is all completely free, and I personally feel that this is a magnificent testament as to the love and generosity of people of the Catholic faith.
By telling you her story, I find that I am at this moment, so very blessed to be a Member of the Roman Catholic Church. I ask for your fervent prayers and that you put Donna's name on your parish's Prayer List for the sick.
I know I can count on you - you are my sisters and brothers in Christ. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours.