Remembering Donna Jeanne

On the hard days I try to think of a happier time. I’ll retreat into a goofy memory or talk about one of her favorite things. I like to remember her out loud. I’m not sure I ever spoke of her as much as I do now, or maybe I just realize it now that she’s gone. Each time though, I find myself thinking what others’ memories of my mom are like. She wore so many different hats. She was a wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, colleague, and advocate. She certainly left her mark on the world.

This blog was about melanoma, and how to keep your distance from it. She would ask you to check your skin on the 1st of the month, wear sunscreen and protective clothing, and to stay the hell out of tanning beds. She wanted to raise awareness, and boy did she. Her legacy is so far reaching it is absolutely amazing. She was instrumental in helping pass the Teen Tan Ban in the City of Chicago and statewide in Illinois. As I said before, she certainly left her mark on the world. After her diagnosis she made it her mission to help others learn about melanoma, so that they wouldn’t have to walk in her shoes.

But her life was more than melanoma. She liked to talk about the weather and the Blackhawks, jam out to rock music, cheer for the unbearable Chicago Bears, try new recipes, drive her speedy Jetta, and spend time with her family. Melanoma was only a part of her life for 4 of her 53 years. And yet, while I know she would never wish the beast on anybody, she met some wonderful people in those four years. People that feel like lifelong friends, even though they had only known each other for a short time or maybe they never even met.

My mom lived life on her own terms. She always did things her way. She didn’t’ let melanoma knock her down. She faced her diagnosis with courage and grace.  She had more fight in her pinky finger than I have in my whole being. She showed the world how to live! Others were always in awe at how she faced the beast head on, and did everything she could to help others while also taking care of her own health.

Now that she’s gone, we all hold the responsibility of continuing her legacy. I ask that we all fight to educate others about the dangers of melanoma and ensure that our friends and loved ones are safe. My mom is so loved, and so missed. The lessons she left with each of us are priceless.  I will forever hold on to my memories of her and follow her lead and truly live out loud!


Filed under: Melanoma

Leave a comment