Donna's Cancer Story: The End

This is the thirty-first of thirty-one installments of Donna’s Cancer Story, which will appear daily in serial format through the month of September to recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Each post will cover one month of Donna’s thirty-one months of treatment.   


There are no photos of Donna today, as there is no Donna today.  Donna died on October 19, 2009.  She was four years, two months, four weeks, and one day old. 

The Bubble we had enjoyed permanently popped one afternoon when Donna woke from her nap.  When she reached to take my hand, I noticed her left arm was trembling, shaking gently.  A couple of days later her head started tilting to the left.  A couple days after that her balance changed.  Then her walking. 

The signs were unmistakable.  The terror and doom consumed more and more of my thoughts.  The reality of what was happening to Donna was indisputable.  She would die and it would be soon.  Days?  Weeks?  No one knew.

Donna continued in pre-school during this time.  I fretted so as I dropped her off in the morning.  I asked her if she would feel more comfortable if I stayed with her, that I could help her if she needed it.  “No, Mama.  If I need help, I will ask a teacher.”  Grit and grace in equal, lovely portions.  I would wait anxiously for her at the end of the morning when the parents gathered to pick up their kids.  Each day, her teacher reported Donna did beautifully, that she had not needed any help.  She played outside, and climbed the stairs to the library, and showed no signs of distress.  That was Donna.  Strong as an ox, yet delicate as a flower.  That was her beauty, her shine.

On a Thursday night, stalling as she did so well (“My Little Stallina” is what her Daddy called her), Donna gave her Dad and I a concert.  She stood on a step stool and sang “I’m a Little Teapot,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and “Row Row Row Your Boat.”  She sang each song three times.  She was beautiful.  And so happy. 

The next morning Donna woke and was different: moody, clingy, listless.  The next day, after a trip to the zoo and a nap, Donna woke with a headache.  The hospice nurse came immediately and started morphine with good effect.  Donna asked for macaroni and cheese, “the good kind, Mama,” and I ran to Noodles and Co. for her.  God bless the stranger who sat next to me as I waited for the order.  Donna ate well and promptly threw it all up, but felt great.  She had a bath and played, played, played.  She was loud and I worried her singing would wake up Mary Tyler Son in the room next door, but I didn’t care. 

We had another trip to the zoo that week, Donna bundled and her cheeks covered in her Auntie’s deep pink lipstick.  She rode the carousel and was happy.  On the night before my birthday, Donna baked me a cake.  She used the heart shaped pans.  It was delicious.  A couple days after that, Donna spoke her last words.  “Mama, Mama, Mama,” she called out to me.  Her tone was anguished.  I held that girl tight and close for the last time. 

Dear friends made a pumpkin memorial to Donna on our front lawn during her vigil.  There were dozens and dozens of pumpkins with written messages of love and support for us and jack-o-lanterns that lit the night with their warm, comforting glow.  Each night someone appeared to light them and after Donna died they took them away for us.   


After a few more days of deep sleep, Donna died.  She had been receiving morphine to manage her pain and she appeared comfortable.  No grimacing, no furrowed brows.  On the fourth night of Donna’s deep sleep, her Dad and I fell asleep at midnight.  At 2 a.m., when the medication alarm went off, Mary Tyler Dad woke and Donna was gone.  He gently touched me, my eyes opened to Donna next to me, and it was over. 

In the end, Donna knew she would die.  Unlike me, she had the courage to bring it up so we could acknowledge it.  At the suggestion of a neuropsychologist at Children’s Memorial, we bought a book called, Lifetimes:  A Beautiful Way to Explain Life and Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie and Robert R. Ingpen.  God bless these two men.  If I had to look at one more suggested book about burying a cat or a fly-a-way balloon to use as a tool with Donna about her death, I would have hurt someone. 

We put the book into circulation, and Donna was fascinated with it.  We all were.  The illustrations are gorgeous and do not attempt to make death pretty with balloons and rainbows.  Death is not pretty.  It is real and can be beautiful, but it is not pretty.  As with everything, Donna took the book in and understood it more deeply than we could have imagined. 

One day, on the drive to her school, Donna asked me from the backseat who we knew that was dead.  She told me she would miss me when she died and she worried she would be sad and lonely.  Then she told me that bones didn’t walk.  Bones had become a symbol of death for her because of dinosaurs.  She was fascinated with them.  She knew that my Mom, her Baba, was now bones.  I agreed with her and told her that bones needed muscles and skin to walk.  She calmly told me that bones did not talk either.  I told her that I didn’t think bones needed words.  I told her that many folks believed you come together with the people you love after you die.  I told her I hoped I would be with Baba after I died.  Driving, tears streaming down my face, I could not tell my daughter that I hoped I would see her again after she died.  I couldn’t do it.  Fail. 

Five days later, at bedtime reading books, out of the blue Donna said to me, “Why am I worried I’m dying?”  She said it twice in a row.  “Why am I worried I’m dying?”  We talked about her question and quietly, I agreed with her.  I told Donna I thought she would die soon, too.  Her tone of voice, both of our voices, were calmer than one would think in that kind of conversation.  We talked about how sad her dying made us.  We talked about heaven and that many, many people believed it was a place of reunion and peace.  A few moments later, I asked Donna why she thought she was dying, did she feel differently?, or did she hear someone say those words to her?  Donna told me she was hearing things her body was telling her.  I was comforted by how relaxed she was in our conversation.  She was not overly afraid, but honest and curious and open.  I turned out the lights and we snuggled.  Donna asked me what my favorite part of the day had been.  “Our talk just now,” I said.  “Me, too,” she said. 

Fifteen days later, Donna died. 

Row, row, row your boats, dear readers, gently down those streams, because merrily, merrily, merrily, folks, our lives are but a dream. 

Candlelite sign
Tomorrow:  How to Help


Filed under: Uncategorized


Leave a comment
  • I knew this post was coming and yet I still - sojmehow (even AFTER reading your caringbridge!!) - hoped against hope that it would end differently. That there'd be one more picture of 'our' Donna (thank you for sharing her. I know I will never ever forget her), one more story about her. She was a wise, wise soul and I wish so much that she would have been able to grow up and share that wisdom herself with the world.

    Hopefully her legacy will be a heightened awareness of childhood cancers and the need for more research, more studies, more treatment options, more knowledge, more hope.

    And I'm weeping again while typing this.

  • No, no, no no. I know. But no. I waited all day for this post. But it's so hard to accept.

  • I have no words to give you that could help the pain that you and MTD must have felt...and surely continue to feel. I can say thank you for sharing her light with us and that I am confident that she is safe in the loving arms of her Baba, sharing her joy, strength and spirit in another place...without pain or sadness. How lucky you were to have had her...even for much too short a time. As someone much wiser than me said "Blessed are we to have this day"...Donna's story has reminded me to keep that uppermost in my thoughts. May every day be easier for you and Donna's smile be forever in your hearts.

  • Rest in Peace, Dearest Brightful Donna.

  • fb_avatar

    I have only experience one tiny moment of your love and loss by reading Donna's story, but my heart is full of equal parts grief and awe. Donna is an amazing soul, brilliant beyond the four years and (almost) three months she shared with you. What we all can learn from her...

    You are a remarkable family in many ways, but I choose to think of you as remarkable for nurturing and sharing Donna's bright light of a life. Thank you. Know that I, too, will keep Donna's memory. xo

  • fb_avatar

    Donna is the most wonderful person I've never got to meet, thank you for sharing her story and allowing me to get to know her. Through her story I learned to embrace life and see the beauty in everything. I learned to be more patient with my children and cherish every moment with them. As a mom, childhood cancer is something I did not want to believe it exist, but it is definitely something that needs attention, I'm glad I read Donna's story. Thank you again for bringing awareness, I will never forget Donna.

  • fb_avatar

    There are no words. Your Donna was and Is amazing. My daughter died at the age of 2, but not from cancer. She died on 2004. My Grandfather died from cancer in 2006. During those times and for some time after, I was a heavy drinker and that is how I dealt with their deaths...Just drank it away. My grandparents raised me so I view them like my parents. My grandmother is dying from cancer, and they called in the family saying that she had 48 hours to live,...4 days ago. Reading your story,...your life,...your memories, had helped me conclude many things about myself. I am in awe of Donna's strength and Courage, as well as yours, and your husbands. I want to sincerely thank you. I cannot put into words how you have helped my soul. I hope you and yours are well, and will be reading your other blod very soon...

  • In reply to krisstanamus:

    Thank you, and I am so sorry to hear of your daughter's loss. And your grandfather's loss and your grandmother's impending loss. All of it. Grief does crazy things to us. I think our saving grace was Mary Tyler Son. A friend whose daughter died in February asked if I was on anti-depressants. No, my boy is better than any anti-depressant. He was nine months old when Donna died and he needed me. Thank God for that. A reader in Sweden wrote to me with the words, "kraft och omtanke." Translated, they mean, "strength and consideration," which she though bereaved parents needed in spades. Kraft och omtanke to you.

  • When I think of Donna and how much you love her (and how much people across the globe now love her, the following quote springs to mind:

    "And did you get what
    you wanted from this life, even so?
    I did.
    And what did you want?
    To call myself beloved,
    to feel myself beloved on the earth."
    -Raymond Carver

    That was Donna. Beloved on this earth.

  • fb_avatar

    Thank You. This is all I can think of right now, as i've finished reading today's post, with tears streaming down my face like so many others have before me. I have followed Donna's and your journey all through the month, and words fail me at explaining exactly how much I have learned. I am also humbled by the coincidence that Donna passed on my birthday. Whenever I would read the day's post I couldn't help but hug my 19 months old Amélia just a little tighter if that's even possible, thinking that no one knows what's in store for them.
    Donna is a beacon of light for all of us who know about her. About her love for life. About her strength.
    I want to believe that a little bit of her light shines from inside my own daughter, who seems so much like her, yet in so many different ways. And i'll keep the promise that as long as I live, I'll never let that sweet and warm little light get any less bright.
    Thank you for the gift of sharing Donna and her story with all of us.

  • fb_avatar

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful life of your daughter. Her life was profound and you have given a gift to me by sharing your story. May you and your family continue to be surrounded by the love and support you need throughout your life to cope with her loss.

  • fb_avatar

    I, like many of the other readers that have left comments, hoped against hope that this day would never come and this post would never be written. I knew it was coming and read today's post with tears streaming down my face. Thank you for sharing your story and bringing awareness to this awful disease even though it must have been unbearable for you at times. I admire your strength and want you to know, that while I never met Donna, she has made an indelible impression on me. Thank you again

  • Such a wonderful story of love and hope, and I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss. It was a strange day of irony to read your story today, the same day that my 19 year old son was home from college canning for Penn State's IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon which has raised more than $78 million in the fight to conquer pediatric cancer. I'm always proud of him, but reading your story today made me EXTRA proud.

  • Thank you so very, very much for sharing Donna's story. Bright blessings to you, MTD, MTS, and all Donna's loved ones.

    Carys Starfire

  • I love you, MTFamily. Thank you for sharing this. I really have never honestly been so moved by something. I knew the end was coming, prepared for it, cried my way through it. I took my 4 yr old blondie with curls out today and let her run wild. She can run wild but Donna can't. I told her about Donna and how special she is to us, even though we've never met. I told her how important it is to make the best of each day because sometimes things change that we can't control. I've lost so many to cancer and it never gets any easier. So many that are gone that have dented my life. So many things that go on in life that I can't share with each and every single one of them that's gone. But like you said in a need the release. Release of the guilt, the sadness, the whole weight of it. This journey has been a release. Thank you. I'll think about Donna for the rest of my life.

  • fb_avatar

    My daughter Bridget died on July 19, 2006. She was 10 years, 10 months and 19 days old. She, too, was a victim of cancer - osteosarcoma - and the fight was hell. It pisses me off that she and Donna and millions of other children die from this disease, that the funding sucks, that it continues to because people don't want to hear about it; they cover their ears because the thought of it is too horrible to imagine. If you don't know about it, then it will never happen to your child. Donna's story was familiar - the words that a family who lives in Cancerville know all too well. When I began reading this it brought me back to day one of Bridget's diagnosis, and once again, through her journey. While parts of it were awful to relive, I am surprised to find that parts of it brought me some peace. The grace and dignity with which my girl lived and died. The kindness of strangers and the dedicated medical people who were on our team. The blessings of friends and family who didn't know what to say but shared their love in a million ways. Thank you for sharing Donna and your story. I love that you have raised awareness for this disease - that you have shared your beautiful and inspirational girl with all of us. May the angels - Donna and Bridget included - watch over you and your family and bring you peace.

  • Dear MTMom,
    Thank you deeply for sharing Donna's story. I am not a mom, but I get you. In my best days, I think I get Donna too. I'm a three-year cancer survivor who was also very sick as a child (with another condition, many years ago). Your story made me think so much of my parents and their struggle to help me heal. I wish I knew more about how they felt back then. We never talked much about it, and now they've both passed away. It's beautiful how your sharing of Donna's story creates legacy for her in this world even after her passing. She's touching so many people now. God bless you and your family.

  • fb_avatar

    My heart aches for the loss of one so bright. But am so touched that you gave something so wonderful, so silly, and so full of life to us, Donna. Thank you giving us a glimps into that world. I will forever be changed by Donna, and your family.

  • That's right. We will meet her there. What we go through here on earth is nothing compared to eternity. I have been following, crying buckets of tears, holding my five children tighter. Donna has taught us all so much. I will never forget this little girl. She has a place in my heart, now and forever.

  • fb_avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing your daughter's story. I found out my mom had bone cancer while in China adopting our daughter. My mom died only a few months later after being so brave with her cancer. My father in law died one month before my mom, of throat cancer. We had waited 4 years to adopt our daughter (who is now a 4 year old)...our parents only had a few months to spend with our daughter before they died, but we continue share their love with our daughter every day. Your family and Donna's story are amazing.

  • fb_avatar

    Much love to the MTM family. I fell in love with your daughter over the last month. Today was very hard. Donna will forever be in my memory - Mission Accomplished. She will never be forgotten.

  • fb_avatar

    I had this thought today, as I realized it was October 1, and this entry would be waiting for me when I got home, that humans are hardwired to evaluate our environment. That berry is tasty, don't eat that one. This cut needs a bandage, that person is sick. It's what kept us in one piece for many thousands of years. But we also have the capacity, if we try, to perceive change over time, to remember what was before and how it differs from what we have now. In other words, we have the capacity to tell and understand stories. This month of entries took something that our brains -- my brain -- wants to label and look away from -- cancer is bad, Donna is gone -- and made me remember that, first, Donna was here. She was full of joy, smarts and light -- brightful, I read once. Through these entries, I felt the value of Donna's life, not as a cancer patient, but as a little girl. They are sad, heartbreaking, but also a clearly observed description of a life, lived to the best of Donna's ability. That's something I will respect for the rest of my life. Something else I've read along the way: That talking about Donna is how you parent her now -- and as ever, you are the best parents she could have hoped for.

  • Donna's last days are so consistent with the way she lived. Yet it continues to amaze me the grace and intelligence with which she lived. Her curiosity and understanding about death must have been so difficult for you to deal with as a mom.
    I wish you and your family the best and look forward to Monday's live chat.

  • Thank you for sharing this story and raising my own awareness. Donna definitely won the parent lottery. Her strength and grace can only be a reflection of MTM and MTD. Like you, I'm not overly religious but I do think that your Mom and your baby girl are together spiritually. Someday you'll meet them there. In the long meanwhile, I hope we all live with the same vigor as Donna. I know over the last 30 days I have clutched my boys harder than ever. So thank you for that; thank you for reminding me that time is always precious.

  • The wisdom of children is often surprising, Donna's was astounding. A wise, beautiful and joyous soul. Rest in peace sweet, sweet Donna.

  • First, I want to say how sorry I am for your loss. I was very touched to read about how you faced Donna's diagnosis and the many ups and downs during her treatment. I have a four year old girl who has been on the receiving end of over 18 surgeries in the past two years to treat what could be a life threatening condition. I can so identify with doing my best to keep it together until after bedtime, then let the tears and anxiety come.

    I assume the live chat will be crowded and lively. I'd like to put in a request if possible for you to address one item. Having also read from another journal, I was touched to learn about the origin of the "we'll meet you there" expression. If you could share that story with readers, I know I will keep that memory with me. Thanks.

  • fb_avatar

    Dear Anns
    May karma bite you where the sun doesn't shine.

  • fb_avatar

    Anns, I'm sorry that you're such a gigantic Baboon's Buttock that you have to make such horrible, horrifying comments to this lovely story written by this lovely woman. No, I don't know her personally, but I can guarantee you one thing: there's a special place in heaven for people like her. Likewise, there's a special place in Hell for people like you, so I hope you're packin' some marshmallows.

  • Anns:

    First of all, your comments are totally inappropriate in this forum. If you are concerned about insurance premium rates, either contact your congressperson or become a lobbyist, and express your frustrations through those channels. This is a blog written by a mother whose child has passed away from cancer. Your insensitivity in making your comments, especially in response to this particular post, are shocking and are evidence that you have absolutely no class.

    Second, I have news for you: life has a zero survival rate. Everyone will die at some point. Are you suggesting that we halt all medical research and stop treating anyone who may die of a disease? Treatments, like the ones that sweet Donna underwent, are experimental because they are new technologies and/or are being used to treat a certain disease for the first time. They will remain "experimental" until enough people utilize them, and there is data to support whether or not they are truly effective. If it is found to be effective, then the treatment can be used to help all of the other people with that disease. However, if people like Donna and her parents do not opt for trying new treatments, then we wouldn't make any more advances in the field of medicine. Thus, Donna and her parents were extremely brave for trying all of the different courses of treatment that they did. They didn't know what the outcome would be, but accepted the challenges of undertaking new types of therapy to see if it would help stop the spread of the type of cancer she had.

    Your points about insurance are overstated and generalized. Insurance costs are not going up because we are treating babies with cancer. You may want to chat with your friendly insurance company about the profit margins it makes. Just saying.

    On a personal note, my cousin was recently diagnosed with medulloblastoma (a malignant brain tumor), and because there were people before him who underwent "experimental" therapies and doctors were able to gather data about what worked and what didn't, he has a 90% chance of survival. If no one had ever tried those therapies, he might not be here today.

    What Donna's mother has done on this blog is opened the eyes of hundreds of thousands of people to the realities of cancer and the need for additional research.

    Anns... I'm pretty sure the only thing you have done on this blog is make yourself look like a completely insensitive fool. Well done.

  • In reply to Tracker620:

    You made lots of really good points, Tracker. Anns, when you buy health insurance (and this is a choice you make, you don't HAVE to buy it), you are basing that decision on a risk/benefit analysis of your personal quality of life. What are the chances I will need serious medical attention that makes it worthwhile for me to pay into it? You are buying the insurance as a way of assuring your own prolonged life and good quality of life. To compare buying health insurance to giving money to a neighbor so they can have their relative live for another 24 hours is completely inapt. You bought the health insurance to guard against risks associated with YOUR own health, not the health of your neighbor. If you think somebody else and not you is going to benefit from your payments, don't pay! (or decline when your employer offers it)

    As with any other insurance, you may not need huge payments from your health insurance - thankfully, most of us don't. But some of us, like Donna, do - and this is how the risk/benefit outcome is going to be if you wish to live in a society and not by yourself on an island. If we start to say that there should not be payouts when somebody is going to die, well then you are walking a slippery slope on so many levels, aren't you? A good friend of mine, a woman in her 50s, is currently battling brain cancer. If the treatments, both established and experimental, work as they should, she could statistically speaking be around for at least another ten years. Does that make insurance payments for her treatment worthwhile or not? As Tracker said, the ultimate survival rate for all of us is zero. Tracker also makes very valid points about experimental treatments.

    My thoughts are if we're going to spend trillions of dollars fighting wars, we can spend a fraction of that investing in the wisdom of youth like Donna, prolonging their lives and the quality of their lives so we can all benefit from it. Give me five minutes of the wisdom of a child any day over the jaded and misguided bitterness of some adults like Anns. We have to invest in society - especially children, all children, who really are our future.

  • fb_avatar

    Could we all just ignore anns? As it seems we are only giving it what it wants, whether it be that s/he is just looking for shock factor or is genuinely evil. Let's HOPE that s/he is sterile. I wonder how the tune would change if it were its life at stake.

    Anywho, someone has already kindly asked for debates to be done elsewhere, and the disrespect displayed by anns is astronomical.

    Bye, bye, anns.

  • Anns wrote once and I let it stand. Anns wrote twice, and I removed it. Donna's Cancer Story is not the place to grandstand about her political beliefs. Anns, I only have compassion for you. I will hold you in my thoughts and hope you find what it is you need in this world. I am sorry you did not have the parenting Donna had.

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    And this, my dear MTM, is another reason we love you.

    My response likely wouldn't have been so eloquent or nice.

    Yet again, your family teaches us a lesson :)


  • fb_avatar

    Mary Tyler Mom - thank you so much for sharing your story. I can't even begin to imagine how hard it was to dig up those feelings to share with the world your hardship. I look up to you for talking openly about it. Most of the world would suppress their feelings, just to let things bottle up. It has shed a light on my life that I can't even begin to put into words. You and your family are truly inspirational!

    Anns, really? How can it be that you lack so much empathy, compassion, and social skills? Your post is as bad as rambling on about how much money a family spent at a funeral. Life (ranging from someone's 5 month year old bundle of joy to someone's 88 year old grandmother) is It is not your position to judge or talk down to someone for THEIR DECISION to spend money on medical treatments or anything else for that matter. This is a beautiful story of how strong a little girl was during the toughest journey life could throw at her. It's not about medical treatments and how much those treatments cost. I pray that some day you come to your senses. Maybe you're just having a bad day or maybe you are truly a bad person at heart. Either way, your comment is not needed or wanted on this blog. Take your negativity and hide in a corner with it. It is the last thing this world needs.

  • fb_avatar

    I finally read this today. I knew it was would be up yesterday, but I wanted to make sure I was alone to read it. I knew I would have a really hard time and I wanted to be able to be free to feel whatever I felt while I read it. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Donna's story. Reading this has been a blessing. Everyday I would look forward to it. Every day I would find Donna's wonderful spirit (and yours) getting deeper into my heart. I found myself thinking how my kids would have loved her, my youngest in particular. I am blown away by her strength, not to mention yours and Mary Tyler Dad's. I choose hope. If I ever stray from that belief all I have to do is think of Donna. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Thank you for sharing this story. I will remember it.

  • I've been dreading this post, absolutely dreading it. I followed Donna for so long on Caringbridge so I knew the outcome. Even before you began this series there was so much of her in a special place, deep within my heart, and now...there's a great deal more.
    A few days ago you wrote how it was not possible to toilet train Donna. From that update on Caringbridge arose one of my absolute favorite 'Donnaisms'. One of you wrote how Donna announced she would use the toilet when she was "twenty-eleven". I laughed out loud, from the core of my being.
    Someone, posting way ahead of me, has asked you to tell how the phrase "I'll meet you there" came into effect. I hope you do. I remember that, how it began at Jill's House and what it came to mean as she progressed. It really touched my heart.
    I'll never forget those pumpkins, the birthday signs at that restaurant, the picture of her on the carousel and all the pictures of her interacting with her baby brother BUT the one thing that still brings tears to my eyes is the salute from her dance teacher (Shawn, I believe) at her funeral. When I read how Shawn bowed to Donna's coffin the way a dancer bows at the end of a performance I lost it. I was wracked with sobs.
    Your precious daughter touched so many people's hearts and I'm proud to say one of them was mine. Thank you so much for sharing her, both here and on Caringbridge.

  • MTM, the grace with which you are living your life (and handling misguided comments) is to be admired.

    Donna, you showed so much wisdom in regard to your impending death. I am completely in awe - you really left us all much too soon.

  • I have put Donna's "anniversary date" for lack of a better term, on my calendar. I will be thinking of you, and her, on the 19th.

    Thank you for sharing her story with us. She was so special and continues to work her magic in the lives of all who read your words.

    I hope maybe someday when I get to whatever is after this life, I can meet her.

  • MTM,

    I am crying as I type. Thank you for sharing your daughter's story with all of us.


  • MTM - I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your beautiful daughter with the world. I loved the way you advocated for your daughter - you and MTD are an inspiration.

  • fb_avatar

    I can't adequately express how touched I was by Donna's story. I have an 18-month old little girl of my own, just two months younger than Donna was at the time of her diagnosis. As I was reading, I tried to put myself in your shoes, and imagine having to deal with the kind of things you dealt with, the fears that you faced, the heartbreak you endured. And I couldn't. Just the attempt to do so brought on instant panic and seemingly endless tears. I simply cannot imagine what your family went through. Donna's strength, and yours, is nothing short of heroic - both will stay with me for a very long time. Thank you to you and your little girl for helping to remind us how precious life is.

    My daughter Ellie and I said a prayer for your little girl last night. Ellie got really quiet when I mentioned Donna's name, as if she could sense the importance of the words. I hope Donna (and you) can feel the love that prompted our prayer. I know Ellie and I did.

  • fb_avatar

    We lost our daughter in 2005 to brain cancer. Your posts (all of them) have given a voice to all of us. All the parents that have had to live through childhood cancer and all the children that didn't make it.

    Thank you for sharing your story and your pain. You are amazing. Donna is missed and so is my Katie. So is ever other child that never made it to adulthood.

  • fb_avatar

    I have just read this story, and to be honest am still crying. Thank you for sharing it. Donna was clearly loved, and clearly loving. Your time together was all too short, and I am sorry for that.

    The reason I found this story is because my baby son has cancer, and I am looking for other people's experiences to help me and my family. Obviously we are hoping beyond all hope that our outcome is different, but also that we are able to show the same strength that you have through the journey we are on. I am recording our experience on my own blog ( ) partly as a theraputic exercise for me, and partly to connect to other parents going through something similar.

    Thanks once again for sharing your story with me


  • Please take a moment from your busy schedules to read Donna's legacy of love and give your kids an extra hug, a little more time, another story because you never know what tomorrow brings. This month is pregnancy, infant, & child death awareness month.If you have a child, imagine for a moment seeing them one last time. Takes your breath away, doesn't it? A bereaved parent lives that unimaginable moment everyday. Telling a bereaved parent, 'they are in a better place' is not comforting. There is no better place than with their parents. Saying, 'you have to move on' is not okay. You never 'move on'. They just move forward carrying their grief. In honor of kids gone too soon, please be mindful of their grief & their process. ♥ ♥

  • fb_avatar

    The beauty and pain of Donna's story have taken my breath away. What an amazing little girl. I feel so fortunate for having been able to follow her story. She gives me such hope for the future. What a beautiful, brilliant light she is.

  • fb_avatar

    i have read this, linked from a blog that was freshly pressed to do with two lovely people going bald in support of Donna. I have read this over the past half week and enjoyed seeing your beautiful daughter, reading about her strength and almost ignorance to the "bastard cancer". She provided a big sister for her mtm brother, she was around long enough for you to capture memories of them together.

    Like the initial poster who posted first to this part of the blog, I too hoped in hope Donna would be cured, with her bright spark and beautiful character she will be in the afterlife hopefully cheering on my sister, making each other laugh.

    I too am still in grief whilst reading this after losing my sister very recently to the dreaded cancer. hugs xx i am so glad that donna is still helping others, you have done so much for others you have wonderful hearts xx

  • Please accept my belated condolences onthe loss of your daughter. Reading this brought tears to my eyes. May G-d bless.

  • fb_avatar

    As these 31 day blog posts started being posted on the huffington post, i got impatient and had to read ahead. The only other time I have cried like this was when my mother took her life. The whole time reading this I felt your pain and I couldn't help but imagine this being one of my children. I don't know you, but I love you for your powerful strength during this, I don't think I could go on without my son or daughter.

  • fb_avatar

    Thank you for sharing this story. It is truly humbling to read of how you and your family dealt so well with such a horrendous illness. Your story reminds me that I have so much to be thankful for. Thankful for my three healthy, beautiful children. Thankful that for all our difficulties, we are only struggling with making ends meet, ear infections, laundry, sibling rivalry, and other things we can afford to worry about since our health is intact.
    I cried reading this post. May you find comfort and hope.

  • fb_avatar

    I stumbled on Donna's story today on AOL. My heart broke for you. You wrote a beautiful story of love for your daughter Donna. I am a Cancer Parent - my son had surgery the day before he turned 3. As I read Donna's story, I relieved some of those moments that will always be in my mind. I loved all the special pictures. Our story had a happy ending - after going to hell and back, my son Daniel is a few weeks shy of 20. While many advances have been made in pediatric cancer, it's heartbreaking to realize that there are so many children who fight the battle every day. Thank you so much for sharing your Donna and bringing awareness to pediatric cancers. Blessings to the Mary Tyler Family.<3

  • fb_avatar

    Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for being such a wonderful mother to your daughter. What courage it took for you to have those conversations. And what an amazing child! I am so sorry she is not here with you. I will always think of her on Oct 19th, as that is my birthday. Sending love and light your way, from Portland, Oregon.

Leave a comment