Donna Moncivaiz died from melanoma yesterday. One of her last messages via Facebook was a reminder to use sunscreen. She often reminded us of the dangers of tanning in her blog, Your Tan May Be Killing You.
Cancer can not be prevented. But, we can reduce our risk by not smoking, by eating well, by exercising, and by protecting ourselves from the sun. That was Donna's consistent message. Do what you can to reduce your risk because dying from cancer is painful. See this chilling blog.
Donna, literally, lost parts of herself as the melanoma had to be cut out. By the time it spread to her brain, the cutting out became much trickier and much more dangerous.
People think that skin cancer is no big deal. In truth, every cancer is a big deal. Just like every other cancer, melanoma can spread to other organs, and once it does, life is measured in months and days and hours. Metastatic cancer is usually deadly, and usually sooner than later.
One of the worst parts about melanoma is that it occurs in young adults. Cancer is typically a disease of aging, but melanoma is notorious for striking younger folks, too.
I know these things because Donna taught them to me. When I started blogging at ChicagoNow, Donna supported my blog, joined my Facebook page and participated actively. She and I exchanged messages and reached out to each other through the ether of the Internet.
She was a generous human being. She was honest, blunt, and hopeful. In the midst of her own suffering and the repeated traumas of her treatments and surgeries, she still reached out to others, including me, a woman in remission from an early stage cancer.
She offered support and engagement, encouragement and empathy. Despite all that was going on inside her world, she reached outward to those of us in the ChicagoNow community.
I didn't know her in the proper sense of knowing. We were fellow bloggers and neighbors in this shitty little village called cancerville. She had a passion for getting out simple, powerful messages about melanoma. And she had a deep and abiding compassion for other people.
Donna, I want you to know how much I appreciated your kindnesses to me. And to your family, I say that Donna loved and was loved by so many people, some she'd never really met.
You are in my heart as you travel this terribly lonely road of grief and loss. I send you peace and lovingkindness.
These were my favorite words of hers:
Time is precious. If I could only share one thing with you, that would be it. Every single day is a gift. Even the days you’re mad at your kids, or your boss, or the love of your life. Don’t hate Mondays…and don’t live just to get to Friday. Friday might, or might not, get here.
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