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Why I am grateful

Why I am grateful

This summer I made a charitable gift to the Caldwell Cancer Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

Why did I do it? Because I have a grateful heart, plain and simple.

I am grateful to the radiologist who after performing my ultrasound-guided biopsy, knowing it was definitely not good news, wrapped her arms around me and told me I was very brave.

I am grateful to the nurse who stopped in to see me prior to all of my (five!) surgeries, chatted with me about her golf game, her daughters’ water polo exploits, then took my hand and wished me well.

I am so grateful to my oncologist, who stopped in to visit the morning after my mastectomy, when I couldn’t have felt more defeated, hopeless and scared. It was truly my lowest moment; since after being told I had an 80 percent chance of my lymph nodes being cancer free, I received the devastating news this insidious disease had crept into four nodes. I explained that I appreciated his kindness and thoughtful visit, but I really wasn’t in any frame of mind to discuss my fate. He then pulled over a stool, sat down, looked at me steadily and said, “I don’t care if you have it in four nodes or nine nodes. I can cure you–but you must get on board mentally.”

When it seemed as though everything that could possibly go wrong had–I wanted to believe him so badly. Having prepared myself again for the worst, it was difficult not to be skeptical. However, I have known him for more than 20 years; he has been right many, many times, and I wanted him to be right about me. I knew then that I needed to believe in my treatment program, to believe I could overcome this most challenging adversity, and at some point, believe I could regain my good health.

I am grateful to the chemotherapy nurse who always entertained me with stories of her weekend adventures, hoping to lower my elevated blood pressure, while wrapping my forearm in a heating pad to prepare it for the infusion of wonder drugs that would save my life.

I am grateful to the plastic surgeon who, when taking a look at my sorry bustline, told me he didn’t see a problem in restoring my breast to its original size, as well as providing a look natural enough to wear a strapless dress, and yes, even a swimsuit.

I am grateful to the hospital that took excellent care of me, beginning with mammography, then radiology, surgery, treatment and recovery; guiding me through this terrifying process, and offering me the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial that provided me with state-of-the-art treatment to wage war against the most formidable opponent I would ever encounter.

And I am most grateful that my wonderful doctor was right. I jumped on board mentally, and I believe in my recovery. I remain cancer-free.

Yes, I am a donor because I have a grateful heart. Plain and simple.

St. Charles resident Donna Burnidge was diagnosed with breast cancer in spring 2010 and was treated at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. She remains cancer-free.

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  1. Angela Hacke

    Thank you Donna for sharing your story and for your kind donation in support of Advocate. We are so thankful that people like you give back to ensure that the same care you received is available for future patients.

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  3. Jeanne Rattenbury October 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm · Reply

    You’re beautiful inside and out, Donna! Thank you for helping ensure that other women get the same kind of care that you’re grateful for.

  4. Thank you Donna for sharing your inspiring journey. You look wonderful!

  5. Allyson Regnier October 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm · Reply

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring and heartfelt story. Your words really bring to life the team approach that our physicians, caregivers and professionals provide to their patients. We deeply appreciate your support and for being a champion for Advocate!

  6. Colleen Larsen RN October 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm · Reply

    Hi Donna….Long time no see. What a wonderful story from a wonderful lady! I was so glad to see your picture (and the dog!) you look great! You continue to be an inspiration to those around you.

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About the Author

Donna Burnidge
Donna Burnidge

St. Charles resident Donna Burnidge was diagnosed with breast cancer in spring 2010 and was treated at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She remains cancer-free.