Welcome to My Personal Page
I am no stranger to cancer. My name is Donna Stampone and I am a 33 year survivor of cancer and this week marks 7 year breast cancer free. Like many that have been diagnosed there's the initial shock and fear of hearing the word Cancer. I had Hodgkins disease at 17 and went 22 years cancer free and really believed it was a distant memory even though I was told my risk was higher due to the type of treatment I had. At 17 years old the thought process is much different. I remember treating it just like an every day sickness - you get treatment and it's gone. Having a 17 year old now, I'm sure it was harder for my parents then me at the time. My grandmother died of breast cancer the year before I was diagnosed with Hodgkins so I was no stranger to the disease and very well aware of what cancer could do. My family was a very tight knit very private Italian family so when I was diagnosed and going through treatment very little people knew what I was going through. Not my friends, nor my teachers/ school nor many of my extended family. We for some reason kept it hush hush. So when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, as an adult my approach was a total 180. I was a teacher and coach in the same community in which I lived and shared my story with many - I talked and didn't stop. I made sure my own children knew what I was going through and answered any question they had. My biggest fear was not death itself but it was leaving my two children without a mother. The love comfort, and support that I received was absolutely amazing and I believe this helped me and my family and gave us the strength to get through this bump in my journey. When I was diagnosed, I was probably in the best shape of my life, just returned from a family vacation and received the call for a repeat mammogram. I called my family doctor in a panic and he said many people get called back prob. nothing. I remember being dropped off by my dad and told him to wait in the car because I would only be a few minutes. From the mammogram, I was shipped off to ultrasound and then the radiologist came in and said he was going to do a biopsy right away something that was suppose to take 10 minutes was now over an hour. As the radiologist was doing the biopsy he said quite frank he was 99% sure it was Cancer. I was floored. How could this be? My whirlwind began. The 10 days waiting for confirmation felt like a lifetime. I attended my first bright run a few days before my double mastectomy . I found out about the run in late August through a friend and was immediately drawn to it and needed to give back. Knowing that every cent raised went to fund research in the Hamilton area was amazing. The care that I received at Jurvinski by all the staff that I encountered was phenomenal. Within two weeks, my team of family members and girls in which I coached quickly raised 5000 dollars. My story in the community travelled like wild fire. The day of the event was incredible seeing the sea of pink shirts as I walked down the path. As I look out today to all of the courageous strong people in the pink shirts it still gives me goose bumps. Seeing many ocologists, nurses and staff here supporting and volunteering their time is amazing. The 1000 + people here are united because either themselves, their mother, sister, aunt or friend is fighting the battle. At my first Brightrun, a few days before the biggest surgery of my life, the loneliness and fear left me. Knowing that many of these people were all fighting this disease as I was, gave me a tremendous strength. The love, prayers and support that I received from my family, friends, students, coworkers and community gave me an incredible intensity to fight and the day after my surgery as the anesthetic wore off I remember calling my husband at 6 in the morning with such inner peace and calmness. I think I actually scared him. Unfortunately, just as I made my way down the road to recovery, almost a year later my mom was diagnosed. Yet again our family was thrown into a fight. My children 14 and 11 watched again as their grandmother had surgery and went through treatment. They were terrified and both dealt with it in different ways. First their mom and then their grandmother how fair is that but Cancer is not fair!!This was a woman that watched her mom and grandmother die of the disease and her daughter go through it as a teenager. But this time she took the approach that I took a year before and was no longer private about her disease. She too found the comfort in sharing her story. Bad luck struck again a year later and my aunt my moms sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. At this point we were all mortified. Again we picked ourselves up and fought hard. Hence our team name In it together as we treated this as a family disease and all hands were on deck to do whatever we needed to do. In 2014 my moms breast cancer returned. Being a caregiver and watching someone you deeply love go through such a rough time for me was harder then actually going through it myself. I poured all my strength I had into helping my mom and after a long 18 month battle, on March 6th of this year she decided it was time to end her battle. I thought and choose my words very carefully, we did not lose my mom to breast cancer, she decided to end her battle and boy did she give this dam disease a hell of a fight. From 2009 to 2016 there has not been a day that has gone by where breast cancer has not been part of my conversation or thoughts. I often think why me, why my family. I’m not going to lie I have had my emotional days but then with the help of my husband Pete and children Siera and Jake, I get up and think yes me yes my mom yes my aunt now what am I going to do about it. Through my story I have realized I can help people. I have experienced the emptiness, loneliness, panic, anger and fear of waiting for results and at times receiving that unwanted news. My perspective in life has changed dramatically but is still a continual work in progress. Our team " in it together "has been participating in this event for 8 years and we have raised approximately 40 thousand dollars. Right from the first year both my children have actively volunteered at every event and we look forward to it every year. This year is especially emotional as my number one supporter is not here in body but I know my beautiful angel will be watching over us smiling and clapping as we hit the finish line. Love u mom. Lastly to all the beauties in the pink shirts that are going through or gone through the journey. Firstly you are not fighting alone we are all in this together and Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles little or big you have won and all the fears you have overcome.
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