Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Carrie Donnelly: Her Story

My story is likely not as dramatic as some. But it is my story, so it is very dramatic to me. I am having difficulty raising funds this time around, as I have only lived here in Texas, a year today. I really don't know much of anyone yet...and my family back home is pretty much estranged, and it would be less than appropriate for me to ask most of myfamily to donate. I tried that two years ago, and was met with very unpleasant results.

As far as friends go my Christmas card list it is short, having an autistic child who you home schooled for several years, kind of keeps one out of the loop.

When I did my fund raising before, I had help from a former walker, turned staffer due to an injury. Even with that I had to self donate over $500, I cannot do that this time. I do not even have a credit card to give them.

Anyway, here is my story. I have watched cancer affect many lives, not just breast cancer, all sorts, as I am sure most of us walking have. I have also seen those who in spite of the cancer were strengthened, and though their lives were changed they turned it into blessing. I will focus here only on those who dealt with breast cancer.

The first time breast cancer got personal was with my Aunt June. It was almost 30 years ago, I was a teenager. I remember it so well, because breast cancer was still whispered about. My uncle though, Texan through and through, did not remain silent. Coming from a prudish family it was kind of a shock for me to hear him speak about it openly, without shame. He planted a seed in me, and for that I am grateful. My Aunt quietly had her lumpectomy, and received her radiation. Today she still survives, she is well into her 80's!!

My second experience with breast cancer was a cousin on the other side of my family. Barbra and I grew up together. She was several years older than me... I loved her dearly. She was a typical California girl. Blond, tanned, beautiful. She married her long time sweetheart of 13 years... when she was in her 30's. Soon after they had their only child, a beautiful daughter, the smacking image of Barb. When their daughter was only 7, and Barbra was only 38 the breast cancer came and took her quickly.

She fought a short battle, but was determined to beat it. And though she lost her life, the cancer did not win. She died peacefully in her rose garden, as was her wish. She was strong and amazing until the end. What struck me most was being at a funeral where everyone was so young. Just feeling, no one should ever have to grieve such a young friend, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a momma. Her mother my Aunt Gwen, had proceeded her in death, 3 years before, from liver cancer.

Years later I found myself face to face with my son's 5th grade teacher, she at 27, was fighting for her life. She had to have a double mastectomy...chemo and radiation, again, only 27! Being a former school teacher myself, I volunteered to teach her class when she just could not make it, when she was just to tired, or just too distraught.

She had two boys, who were only 10 & 12, and her husband had just got back from Iraq. Being that this job was her only form of income and of health insurance, I worked for herwithout pay, so they could get by. That was when I decided to walk. But I got ill myself and had to undergo several more surgeries... I promised I would walk if I got better.

Finally, in 2006 I was able to walk. Yippeeeee!!I wanted to walk last year, but with our move and some serious family problems, it just was not the time. But God is good..I am back, and so desperately want to walk. I look back and see all the breast cancer those in my life have been touched with, and it is mind boggling. I have 4 siblings, all married, and each of their spouses mothers have had breast cancer.... 2 long time survivors. My one sister's mother in law is receiving treatment as I type this. My youngest sister in law, who is in her 20's, lost her mom before she married my brother, just a few short years ago. Her mom was only in her 40's.I have to walk for my nieces and my sisters in law, if for no one else.

This is my story.
Carrie Donnelly

To donate to the Breast Cancer 3-Day in Carrie's name, please go to http://08.the3day.org/goto/teamtiara and click on Carrie's name.

Thank you!

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