Donna Day 2014: What you need to know to be a hero

Beautiful Donna.

Beautiful Donna.

The picture above is of a beautiful young girl, Donna, who left us far too soon in her brave fight with pediatric cancer.

The past few years in my family have unfortunately been years in which the word "cancer" has not been an unfamiliar term to us. My mom has fought (like a champion, mind you) an extraordinary fight against Stage IV melanoma since 2008; last year I had the pleasant surprise of finding that a suspicious patch of skin on my collarbone area sure enough was, you guessed it- melanoma. So, when my fellow blogger Mary Tyler Mom approached ChicagoNow writers with the opportunity to help raise awareness regarding pediatric cancer in loving memory of her lovely daughter Donna, I was honored to do anything I could to help. I've seen the effects cancer has on families first hand- therefore, any time my little old self can do something to help other families in their time of need, I jump at the chance.

Particularly because of trying to better understand my mom's battle, in recent years I have tried as diligently as possible to become educated about cancer. This was a difficult process, as sometimes ignorance can be bliss. I made myself familiar with support organizations, research, and the like, as painstaking as it was. I felt fairly confident in understanding many aspects of cancer. Yet, admittedly, there was an area that I overlooked, and believe is often overlooked among many of us- pediatric cancer.

I had, in some way, believed that pediatric cancer was the "same" as the types of cancer that hits us adults. However, being exposed to the story of remarkable little Donna, Mary Tyler Mom's beautiful daughter, was a wake up call to how in the dark I was in regards to my awareness of the correct facts. I was shocked by the statistics, and I am sure you will be too. More than 1 in 300 children are diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer? Worldwide, this is happening almost every three minutes?

So, now what? I know, if you are like me, those statistics can leave you reeling a bit. However, having taken lessons from people with warrior strength like my mother, you need to be proactive and never give up the fighting spirit.  Funding research that enables us to become better equipped to help kids and families in their battle against childhood cancer is the best way to start. We CAN help! Let's get out there and do something about it!

How can YOU do something to help? Check out the link for the St. Baldrick's Foundation "Donna's Good Things" event. St. Baldrick's funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any other organization in the United States (except the government). It is a great way to get involved in the cause and to honor the fight of Donna.  Every bit is a step in the right direction- let's all be heroes today.

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    Amy Litterski DeSario

    Born and raised in Chicago, probably not leaving any time soon. 30-something. University of Illinois alum. You can reach me at

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