Social media and the internet brings people together.
It's nothing new. Remember the heyday of America On Line? Hanging out in chat rooms. Developing relationships with people from all over the world. You never met them in person except in rare instances. In a lot of cases, you didn't know their names....at least their real names.
That was almost two decades ago. Does anybody still hang out at AOL? I laugh every time I see someone with AOL email. And yet we're still friends with people we don't know. If you don't believe it, check your Facebook friend's list. How many on your list have you never met? I have 844 on my list. I'm thinking if I actually knew more of them, I wouldn't be writing this on a Saturday night.
Donna Moncivaiz was one of my friends that I never met. She became a member of our ChicagoNow community, in August 2013, writing the Your Tan May Be Killing You blog. It was about her battle with Melanoma.
We have a lot of bloggers here. I think the number is around 400. We get together a few times a year and I've met maybe 50 of them. Donna wasn't one of them. I can't even tell you if she ever attended a gathering. To be honest, I don't ever remember reading her blog. And yet, I felt closer to her than any other blogger.
Fate is a funny thing.
Last February, I found a nasty mole on my upper back. I had been doing some research on the connection between Parkinson's Disease and Melanoma, and this mole looked exactly like some of the photos I'd seen. I knew immediately I had Melanoma. The biopsy just confirmed my expert diagnosis.
It turned out the Cancer was at Stage One but it needed to be removed. When I started to talk about it is when Donna came into my life. She reached out to me. She certainly was an expert at Melanoma surgeries. I believe the number at this point was 12...with a few more to come. This woman was a fighter and tough and an expert at this stuff.....someone I needed.
As minor as my condition was I still had a lot of questions and needed some reassurance. Donna became one of my go to people. You know the phrase no question is stupid. That worked with her, too. No matter what I asked, she had the answer...and the patience to put up with some of my silliness. Basically, Donna became my mother. Usually I hate when women do that but this time it worked.
Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe something else but Donna was having another surgery on the same day I was having mine. Play the Twilight Zone theme. Hers was a lot more serious and she had checked into the hospital the night before. I guess she brought a laptop because we ended up trading Facebook messages while watching the Blackhawks hockey game.
This was someone getting ready to undergo a major procedure on her head and she took the time to talk with and comfort someone she had never met. Who does that? I was amazed then and even more so now. It's one of the kindest, most selfless act I've ever experienced. I'll always be grateful for this.
You've probably noticed that I've been using the past tense a lot in this piece. That's because Donna died on Friday. Fucking Cancer!! But she didn't lose the fight. She kicked Melanoma's ass by getting out her message and helping people become aware about how deadly this disease is. Really all that happened is that Donna just ran out of time.
This is what Donna would tell you....
a. Wear Sunscreen
b. Keep out of the sun during peak hours
c. Long sleeves
d. Wear sunglasses because Melanoma can get in your eyes
e. NO TANNING BEDS!!! (Oh those fucking tanning beds)
Donna Moncivaiz may not be here anymore but her spirit and her message lives on.
This is a piece Donna wrote two years ago. It's about making every moment count....something Donna did.
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