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The Day that Changed My Life

Posted by guestblogger in The LLS Blog, 17 December 2014 · 87 views
Donna Detwiler, myeloma_blog, LLS and 2 more...

Guest blogger Donna Detwiler talks about "The Day That Changed My Life" in LLS's Myeloma Blog series
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I am no stranger to cancer. I had nearly 20 years of experience as an oncology nurse when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in February 2003. However, my previous knowledge did not lessen the shock of my diagnosis. I was completely overwhelmed. When my doctor said 'you have cancer,' I really didn't hear anything else. I always encouraged my patients and their families to take one day at a time. I quickly realized I was a much better nurse than patient. I also realized that in order to move forward, I had to take my own advice and walk the walk. After many tears and sleepless nights…I stopped asking 'why me' and starting asking 'why not me??' Because in reality, no one is immune. Cancer can strike anyone.

I realized that my faith in God and my nursing knowledge would be of comfort to me during my treatment. I also decided to use my knowledge to help others. I read everything I could about multiple myeloma. I joined the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and became a patient advocate. I lobbied Congress twice in Washington for better drug coverage and increased funds for cancer research. I also gained much information from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and have lobbied for blood cancer with them, both in Washington and Columbus, Ohio. I am now a retired nurse, but I have redefined my nursing role and will continue my passion for helping other cancer patients. I initiated a local support group for myeloma patients and their caregivers, and it has been running strong since 2003. I co-founded a nonprofit organization with another survivor called the Yellow Brick Place and we are currently attempting to open a cancer wellness center in our area. It will provide support services for cancer patients and their caregivers, free of charge.

I am incredibly blessed to have wonderful support. My mom Carmie, my husband Jerry, my four children, five grandchildren (with two more on the way), and all my wonderful family and friends are always there to support me. In spite of this, I felt very alone at diagnosis and I thought if I could help one more person not feel that way, I could really make a difference. This is what motivated me to start the local support group and Yellow Brick Place. I also like to stress to others that you don't have to have a medical background to be educated about your disease and treatment options. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!!

This is the way I choose to live my life: "Live with love. Work with joy. Share what you have. Be thankful always. Play as hard as you work. Make up your mind to be happy. Treasure your family. They are the home you will carry in your heart forever." -Author unknown

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