Sometimes I have to remind myself, DonnaMarie you are capable, willing, and engaged but, don’t take on more than you can achieve effectively.
The truth is we all benefit when we care about our neighbors and see ourselves as part of a community. If you can help – do it – lend a hand, you never know when you may be the one in need. We can solve problems together by becoming aware of and addressing the issues that affect our lives. I believe we ultimately exist to leave the world a better place than we found it.
It makes me chuckle whenever friends remark, “You’re everywhere!” I am very involved in politics and advocacy in my community and feel it’s important to do everything I can to affect positive change and a better quality of life for everyone. However, my charge is to remind myself when feeling stressed out by current events and commitments that I can do anything but, not everything.
As a cancer survivor, I’m very passionate about life and its fragility. I’ve been blessed so it’s important for me to pay it forward. I strive to be aware and knowledgeable about what’s going on personally, not just reading about it or listening to what pundits have to say. As I tell my sister all the time, what you see and read doesn’t do justice to the hard work and engaged reality of those of us on the ground; interacting and being strategic about confronting real-world issues.
So, today as I sit here reflecting, I’m reminding myself to breathe in, breathe out and learn how to live with the nature of balance.
2017 has been an incredible year! I’m a cancer survivor with my health and body getting stronger every day! And, Florence Italy in May, a dream trip of a lifetime come true!
Cancer survivors are fighters and that’s just what I’ve been doing as an Ambassador for The American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network. I made a promise to myself during Chemotherapy treatment to give back and be a voice not only for myself, but cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.
Me in September on Capitol Hill
I had the honor of representing my Congressional District in Charlotte and advocating on Capitol Hill in D.C. Meeting with my representatives was an incredible feeling of accomplishment.
We were advocates not only from this country but Ambassadors from around the world! We made quite the statement in our light blue shirts in Washington as strangers asked about our work and what they could do to help.
A friend once said that God has great plans for me and I agree. Every day I get to make a difference and give back to my community.
Watching one of my favorite inspirational films on Christmas about making dreams come true “Sing” (2016), Taron Egerton’s (Johnny) cover of the Elton John epic “I’m Still Standing” (1983) put a big smile on my face as my head nodded yes, I’m not only a survivor but thriving with the Grace and Favor of God.
When you hear this song, think about how dreams come true and how one voice can make a difference in your community.
Today I celebrate 2 years colon and breast cancer free by reflecting on my 1st chemotherapy treatment and how far I’ve come. My journey has taken me from battling cancer to volunteering as an advocate for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, taking the fight to end cancer to Capitol Hill representing survivors and those who continue the fight.
What a difference a year makes! I’m not only surviving but thriving; aware of the uncertainty of the road ahead but traveling with complete faith in God’s healing love.
I’m convinced God loves me so much that he placed my health challenge before me to strengthen my faith and raise my consciousness to a higher level.
I continue to search for the precise words to express my gratitude and thankfulness for all the love and support from my family and friends. Today I celebrate you and how you lifted me through prayer and faith, helping me in Defying Gravity.
My heart is so full. I love you all!
I originally created this video on my 11th out of 12 chemo treatments as an expression of my feelings and experiences with fighting cancer. The song “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway play “Wicked” perfectly describes what I’ve taken away from my cancer journey.
Shedding fears, my unwavering faith and belief that God is always with me and that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to is such a freeing and powerful realization I’ve been blessed to receive.
My message and desire for everyone – embrace your faith and shed your fear. We only get one life, let’s enjoy it!
Connecting with a like-minded soul is a reaffirming experience. An immediate recognition of similar heartstrings and shared views of life. My husband and I relocated numerous times during his career so I was always the new kid on the block and the fact is it takes time to bond and to establish new friendships.
But, it wasn’t until we moved to Chicago and I ventured into the theater world did I realize how to make those connections while also feeding my creative soul and spirit.
When I walked into the audition space, there was an air of familiarity and excitement. As we talked and laughed about goofy things I thought I was the only one who got, a big happy grin appeared on my face. “I think I’ve found my home!”; others who appreciated a sense of expression and openness I was totally tuned into.
My cancer journey has been such a similar revelation on so many levels. It’s been an awakening, a greater appreciation of my blessings, and a new opportunity to connected with beautiful, like-minded souls. I’ve often remarked how God sent me to Charlotte to connect me with all the incredible angels I needed to see me through and help me grow as I kept my faith and determination to live one moment at a time.
From day one, the joking, laughing, and enjoying music in chemotherapy to my positive and best in their fields physicians who cared for me, the karma and the sense of kinship was very real. And once again, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.
And beautifully, it’s happened once again; connecting with new like-spirits. My new soulmates at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and I share the same passion, drive, and commitment to ending the horror of cancer while also finding time to share a laugh and embrace a positive attitude and life of living one moment at a time.
I am so honored to have been named an Ambassador for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and representing Charlotte, North Carolina this September in Washington, D.C. for the Lobby Days Summit and Lights of Hope Ceremony. As an Ambassador I will be shining a light on the need for access to quality health care for all and Congress’ responsibility to do everything they can and more in the fight against cancer.
On September 12th, more than 24,000 Lights of HOPEluminaries will line the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. For some, this ceremony is a celebration of survivorship. But, for far too many, it’s a remembrance of someone who was lost to this dreaded disease.
Each Light of HOPE luminary costs just $10 and will be personalized with the name of the person you’re honoring and placed in front of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool as part of this beautifully moving ceremony.
When diagnosed with both colon and breast cancer in 2015, my world was turned upside down as I fought to survive the beast that cancer can be. I am a fighter and a survivor and knew that if I made it through I would volunteer and dedicate my efforts towards finding a cure for cancer and being a voice for fellow cancer patients.
I give testimony to the fact that you never know when cancer may strike. Just recently, my heart was broken when I lost my dear, sweet Nurse Navigator, Pat McKinney, whose love and spirit helped ease the anxiety my husband and I felt when I was first diagnosed. She set appointments, answered our questions and eased my journey with her calm and gentle voice. Not only did I lose this beautiful angel, but I lost her to cancer.
When we first met she was on her way to the Lobby Days Summit and Lights of Hope Ceremony in Washington, D.C. She imparted to me her belief that I would be there one day fighting for a cure with all the passion in my heart. I will be lighting a special candle for my dear angel and friend. Her spirit will be there along with my mom whom I know watches over me.
Pat McKinney, Me
The Lights of Hope event is a beautifully moving ceremony with the glow of lights from thousands of luminarias lining the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in dedication to the survivors and in remembrance of those we’ve lost to the nightmare of cancer.
Please join me in this fight against cancer while celebrating the lives of survivors, friends, and loved ones.
Click this link to donate to the American Cancer Society and purchase your luminary for this very special and moving event.
I was reading this wonderful, “Acts of Kindness” article on Upworthy, a website for viral content started in March 2012 by Eli Pariser, the former executive director of MoveOn, and Peter Koechley, the former managing editor of The Onion and thought what a great philosophy of life and a wonderful opportunity to give back.
Here are 5 acts of kindness you can do to spread the love and make the world a kinder place:
The lives of millions of Americans have been shaken since election day. With eyes pried open, we have been forced to confront a 2017 reality we never imagined. In my life, it’s been a renewal of activism. My energy and spirit have been revived, in these dangerous days, since joining a growing resistance to fight hatred and bigotry by promoting a worldview of love.
Penning this blog has been a revelation of change and the process of growing stronger through it. My original goal was to share my life journey with friends and family afar to keep them updated on the day to day of my cancer treatment.
I’m still sharing my story but to an even wider audience now; speaking at rallies and in a soon to be published article in my local paper on the impact of the Affordable Care Act making possible the affordability of my cancer treatments. Without the ACA I might not be alive today.
When we reach out to one another with empathy and truth, we grow. Everyone benefits from a world of inclusion, not exclusion and with each life we touch we spread positive energy and an attitude of hope.
It’s truly a blessing to be able to author this blog and interact with this beautifully diverse world. My spirit is renewed each day with the rising promise and tenacity of Hope.