Saturday, February 26, 2011

choosing hope……

In October of 2009, Sheila and Jeremy lost their daughter, Donna, to brain cancer.

Before last night, I didn’t know them.  Today, I feel I know them intimately, with shared purpose and conviction to honor Donna, her life and her potential.

Beth, a blogger friend and friend of Angelo, arranged a dinner meeting as an introduction of everyone to each other, and the potential of developing some sort of vehicle to expand fund raising efforts and awareness for “Donna’s Good Things”.

Donna was a toddler when Jeremy and Sheila were told Donna had brain cancer.  A life with cancer was all she knew. 

She was described to me as confident, bright, perceptive, sensitive, and courageous.  After meeting her parents, it’s not difficult to see from where these traits came.

These aren’t powerful or famous people, just two people finding their way after losing the light of their life.  Instead of being bitter, they are thankful for the time they had with Donna and want to deliver on the potential of her life.  They want to deliver the positive message that Donna delivered every day with the courage and optimism she exuded.  They want to provide support to those parents in the same situation, to let them know that life doesn’t end with the death of a child.

During dinner, Sheila pulled out a few postcards with photos of Donna.  What a beautiful girl, with expressive eyes just pulling you in.  Her picture showed everything her parents described.

It’s not often you get to meet people like Jeremy and Sheila, people who are prepared to take on something big in their own, small way. 

I get a sense they are approaching Mount Rushmore with a chisel, encouraged by the progress they make, chip by chip, looking at how much they’ve done, knowing there’s so much more to do.

So, that’s where we start, with the death of a child, with parents who are committed to living, not in the shadow of death, but in the light of the life of Donna.

Thank you for including me. 

To learn more about Donna and Donna’s Good Things, I’ve attached a link to the webiste.


  1. Thank you for writing this, Tom. So well expressed.

  2. Okay, Tom. This just about done me in first thing on a Sunday morning. And I am totally stealing your Mt. Rushmore metaphor, which so perfectly captures how this process feels to me most of the time. And yet, there Mt. Rushmore stands, amazing and solid and evidence of someone's having been here. Fantastic inspiration for Donna's Good Things. Wonderful to meet you and now know you. Isn't Beth the best? And so skillful with that chisel, too. Here's to creating some hope with you all.

  3. Good Morning Beth and Sheila,
    I feel so honored (sounds so trite, doesn't it?) to have met all of you. Sheila, you express yourself in such an elegant way; I know others see you as the graceful, sensitive, yet powerful person you are. That is a rare combination.

  4. Having met Sheila and Jeremy when my daughter shared a room at Children's with Donna, I can fully agree with what you've shared here, Tom. I, too, feel honored to know them. The manner in which they've dealt with Donna's life and death has been so filled with grace. They have helped, supported and inspired me many, many times during my own journey. Sheila and Jeremy, I love you guys. I hope someday to have the energy and resources to help Donna's Good Things continue to spread hope and joy.

  5. As a F.O.B. (friend of Beth) - I, too have been honroed to meet Sheila and Jeremy. Along with other volunteers - we helped spread the joy of a New Year (and hoepefully forget about cancer for an hour or two) in a children's cancer ward. They are the real deal Tom and I am jazzed you will all be working together - forget the chisel - all your great minds, creativity, enthusiasm, and love will be dynamite in bringing more attention to this very worthwhile cause!!!

  6. Nope, Tom, "honored" doesn't sound trite at all. We all use that word. And you've described Sheila perfectly.

    And the Mt. Rushmore/chisel metaphor is indeed spot on, but Doreen's notion of dynamite makes me smile. *That's* how progress is made!

  7. I like the dynamite reference, because those chisels will turn into dynamite.

  8. I, too, read this choking back the tears. Then, as I read on how Donna's parents were handling a situation no parent ever wants to find themselves in, I'm amazed at the strength they've shown through all of this and the positive attitudes they evoke. Donna was a beautiful little girl and her spirit will forever live on through Jeremy and Sheila!