Wednesday, July 22, 2009
If anyone can... Danielle can
So I don't really know how to start this blog out. Many of you know that I have lived in Ohio, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware and Texas. Many of my friends on facebook are from each of those walks of life. Add in the ship friends and you have one very well rounded and BLESSED life!
So, rewind to 1990-1991. I was in my Junior year of high school and I did plays and musicals. I was in Babes in Toyland and was little Bo Peep. I know.. insert corny joke here. :) But I actually had children (at the time) as my sheep. One of my little sheep was Danielle. And she may have started out as my sheep but she turned into a friend. A lifelong friend.
As many of you also know... I was married before. She was in my wedding. In fact, much of the planning was done in the kitchen of her mothers house as my parents had already moved to Texas. I have so many fond memories of my time there... we had the bridal shower there (equipped with stripper... oye was I embarrassed) and the after wedding brunch. The marriage didn't last but the friendship has surpassed time.
That said... we did lose touch for awhile. I got divorced. I moved to Texas. I went out on ships. Danielle went on with her life which was VERY successful. I was regaled with tales (through my mom) of her various successes... none of which surprised me. She ran for City Council at 18, an elected position, and won. She ran several companies (and had the only check writing access for many of them). Put herself through college all the while working. I think she may be the only 18 year old driving around a mercedes. I think she may have even bought her mother a car. To say that this woman is extraordinary is an understatement.
Now you may be wondering why I am rambling on about this young lady's accomplishments. These are only the tip of the iceberg.
You see, she is also fighting the fight of her life against an aggressive and terminal cancer. I choke up just thinking about this.
Danielle went in for some cosmetic touch ups on her face. She had some "zits" that she wanted frozen off. She completely admits it was a vain desire on her part to be prettier (although she's gorgeous no matter) and she had the money to do it, so why not?
She went in for her pre op and then went in for the procedure when the doctor came in and said... "there are some areas that worry me, I want to send this off for a biopsy." She said... no really, you must have the wrong chart. Well, the biopsy came back and she had lymphoma. But the doctor said... "completely cureable... no big deal really!"
She went in for treatment and all of a sudden, it seemed to explode. I don't know the exact course of how everything went but the hurdles she has already overcome are about as awe inspiring as climbing Mt. Everest.
She went from "not a big deal" to "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do and you'll be lucky if you make it to Easter 2009." She not only has made it but she continues to fight each and every day!
I feel it necessary to add... this is THE most POSITIVE upbeat woman you will ever meet (if you're lucky). There has never been a question in her mind that she WILL beat this. She has not shed ONE tear over this horrible disease.
She was told by her first oncologist (supposedly one of the best in the country) that because she was terminal he would have to "drop her because it's not good for my numbers".
Her next oncologist (and current one) made her a stipulation for his acceptance of a promotion to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis. He would not take the job unless he could keep her as his patient. She now has his personal cell phone, his wife's cell phone, and she talks to him several times throughout the day. This man has gotten her into medication trials and refuses to give up. He seems to have the same drive that she does... and it's going to take that to beat this.
While in the throws of fighting cancer and planning her wedding, she was laid off. She worked for one of the divisions of GMAC that closed it's doors. They told her that she had two weeks to close as much as she could. She called all of her clients, told them, and she managed to close over a million dollars in deals walking out of there with the award for the month.
She has already burned through the 3 million dollar lifetime medical insurance limit and is now not insured because she's considered "terminal" and apparently not worth it. So, she has an arrangement with the various hospitals that she is working on paying it off. I wont' even tell you how much she owes in co-pays but you can imagine it. Her doctors and the hospitals work with her for what she can pay for and deal with. She had surgery in May to remove 18 POUNDS of tumors from her abdomen (210 stitches on the outside and 100 plus on the inside). She went in at 7 am and had her mother pick her up at 1:30 PM to recuperate at home because insurance refused to cover it.
She is now on a chemo pill that she takes every 30 minutes and some other medication that she takes an injection every 90 minutes.... twenty four hours a day! She is on 120 mg of prednisone which has her awake ALL the time. This med is known for making you hungry. BUT the docs want to slow the progression of the tumors so they are slowing her actual metabolism. So, she is on a strict diet where she can eat ... 4 ounces of food A DAY! yes, you read that right. She gets 4 ounces of fish a night and 9 kernals of corn. With two vitamin shakes in the morning that taste so terrible they make her gag.
She has a rather tenuous (at best) relationship with her in laws to be. It started out ok but as time went on it moved to adversarial. Her future mother in law actually sicked the SEC on her saying she had defrauded the government. And they have to investigate all claims. But when they found no wrong doing they told her that she could turn the charges back to her Mother in Law to be... but she was hoping to still have some semblence of a relationship so she took the charges on. ALL $300,000 of them...which she has mostly paid off already.
Mother in law, to be, has actually sent in emails to people, copying Danielle... that she prays daily for Danielle to die. Yes, you read that right. There is a very special place in Hell for that woman. Now, Todd, Danielle's fiance, doesn't speak to his parents or family. That makes me sad. They are missing out on so many opportunities to see their son happy! amazing!
Luckily, her parents are not only wonderful... they are so supportive of the two of them. I have known Donna and John for as long as I've known Danielle. They have always opened their hearts to me, to my family, to anyone who needs it. Todd is so blessed to have them and they are so blessed to have Todd.
So, Danielle is currently planning her wedding for October 17th when she will wed her best friend, her rock, her soul mate. She is taking medication to counteract the chemo and allow her hair to grow for the wedding. This medication causes more pain to her already painful daily routine.
She is running FOUR online businesses. One of them on ebay selling wholesale Coach purses. One of them assisting a general contractor with his paperwork etc. One of them event planning. And another that is who knows what. :)
She literally is a powerhouse of a woman at 27... she dog sits. She cooks for others. She does so much for everyone else, I wish with all of my heart I could do something for her. I thought about a fund raiser but she said there are so many others that need it more than she does. So... if anyone has any ideas on how to give back to the woman who has given so much... please let me know. I truly would like to help.
I hope this helps you get to know the most magnificent woman just a little bit. For knowing her... knowing her even through the internet... makes all of us better people.