… from the bungalow

New Beginnings: Happy Donna Day!


This story begins with The End. It was the thirty-first of thirty-one installments of Donna’s Cancer Story. Donna was three months younger than my now six-year-old son, but now he’s two years older than she will ever be. For a kid, a simple 24-hour flu can feel like a lifetime. Donna dealt with cancer for 31 months–over half of her short life. Mull that one over for a minute.

In a little over five weeks from now, Karin and I will be shaving our heads in solidarity with kids with cancer while raising money to fund childhood cancer research. If you’ve read my post entitled “Blissfully Bald,” you’ll know why this cause has become so important to Karin and me. If you haven’t, I hope you will. Here’s a short excerpt:

Thankfully, I’ve never had to make decisions month-by-month or day-by-day that would dictate whether or not I’d live, for how long, and at what cost. Even more thankfully, I’ve never had to make those decisions about one of my children.

But Mary Tyler Mom has. Sadly, so have countless other parents. According to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, more than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year (that’s about one every 3.5 minutes), and one in five children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive.

I try to re-frame things in a positive light. This is difficult to do when you’re talking about kids with cancer. But I feel a love for Donna–a kid I never met in person–the way I love my own nieces and nephews. I wish she and my boys could have played together. I wish I could have invited Mary Tyler Mom and her entire family over for a rockin’ fairy flower popsicle dance party. I wish I didn’t have to write this post.

Yet here we are.

I wish for a lot of things, but nothing is more near my heart on this day than to do my part to help conquer kids’ cancer. Today is Valentine’s Day. And while I’d normally view this “Hallmark holiday” as little more than the day on which I’m obliged to buy a card and some candy, it takes on a new meaning for me this year. Karin will get her flowers and chocolate and some extra smooches, sure. But this year we’re spreading the love for Donna.

(photo courtesy of Anne L. Geissinger, Pixeldust & More)

I appreciate what this little girl has done for me. When I think of Donna, I imagine that she leads me to a hilltop overlooking an idyllic valley, then leaves me there; wiser, inspired, empowered. It’s not that I feel like I “owe” Donna something. It’s more a sense of reciprocation. Her “end” has sparked a beginning. The loss of her life is tragic, there’s no mistaking it. But there’s a bitter sweetness here that can easily be seen as beautiful, selfless purpose. That’s how I choose to re-frame it for the sake of resolving the dissonance I feel. Find the beauty in the tragedy. Choose hope. Love.

There’s a song that comes to mind with all of this talk of the end and love…

“Love you… love you… love you…”
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

With gratitude and (so-much-it’s-almost-painful) love,

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing. And if you’re not there already, join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter! (Search Twitter for #ConquerKidsCancer.)

P.S. Karin of Pinwheels and Poppies and Deb of The Monster in Your Closet are also blogging for Donna today, along with several others! Be sure to visit Donna’s Good Things on Facebook to find all of the posts. Happy Donna Day!


Donna’s story is changing lives. A non-profit organization was founded in her name (Donna’s Good Things) and aims to:

  • Provide joyful opportunities for children facing adversity, be it economic, familial, social or health related;
  • Encourage your good things by providing an online community where folks can share in words or photos something they’ve done influenced by Donna’s inspiration. (http://www.donnasgoodthings.org/content/?s=2, 2012)

A generous donor has made the announcement to Donna’s Good Things that any donations received between now and February 18, 2012, will be matched up to $2,000.00! Donate on the Donna’s Good Things Team Page today! (After the $2,000 matching goal has been met, or after the 18th, please donate to Chris of team Blissfully Bald. It all goes to the same charity, but I’m going for a personal record here!)

UPDATE: The matching donation goal has been reached! Team Blissfully Bald is still hoping to reach $2500 by March 24th. It all goes to St. Baldrick’s on behalf of Donna’s Good Things!

From St. Baldrick’s:

How can you help Conquer Kids’ Cancer?

1. Donate Now to fund lifesaving research

2. Sign up as a Shavee or Volunteer at an Event Near You. (Once you find an event, click on the blue box that says ‘participate at this event’. If you want to join the Donna’s Good Things team, when prompted say you want to join an existing team, and filter for “Donna” at other events)

3. Can’t find an event near you? Organize your own event. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation will coach you every step of the way. In particular, they are looking for new events in Maine, Mississippi, Alabama and Utah.

4. Have questions about getting involved? Visit www.StBaldricks.org or contact Heather@StBaldricks.org.

All photos used with permission.

Author: Chris

Introspection to a fault. College administrator, parent, soapmaker.

26 thoughts on “New Beginnings: Happy Donna Day!

  1. just beautiful. So well done my friend. Proud to be among you and cannot wait for the big day.

  2. Love this. Also, do you mind if I borrow your P.S. and replace my name with yours? 🙂

  3. Pingback: A mother’s wish for Valentine’s Day « The Monster in Your Closet

  4. Every single life is so precious and it sounds like Donna’s life touched you deeply and that she had something beautiful to share with the world. I believe her spirit lives on, and she will forever be guiding you to your hilltop. Thank you for sharing this. So inspiring!


    I really do enjoy your blog and derive inspiration from your posts… so, yesterday I nominated you for the versatile blogger award. To see it, click here: http://www.currierose.wordpress.com

  5. I love you, Chris. This was another beautiful post in honor of Donna. You are amazing and I am so blessed to have you as my partner.

  6. What a lovely little warrior she was. Thank you for this beautiful post 🙂

  7. Pingback: Stop and look around. It was Donna’s Day. (Wednesday’s Wisdom) | Transitioning Mom

  8. so choked up…thanks for bringing this beautiful story to us….

  9. A very inspiring story—isn’t a Valentine just someone you care about anyways? This is a better cause to focus on than the commercialism that usually surrounds this holiday.

  10. Thank you for the introduction to Donna, Chris. I am always deeply moved by children who battle something so horrific so young. It is astounding what young children are capable of and we can all learn so much from their bravery and spirit.

    As for the key in the hand image – I always source back to the images I use in my post (at the very bottom, quite small – maybe too small!). This one is from here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48590810@N04/4907167039/in/photostream/

    Thank you for sharing your story with me. I am definitely in transition and I keep wondering why it doesn’t always feel great. But of course, I am way out of my comfort zone and that is always uncomfortable!

    Best wishes.


    • Oh, I did miss the link for that image. Sorry about that, but I’m glad for the opportunity to have found each other’s blogs! I’m still considering this image for tomorrow’s post.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope to see you around again! And brava to you for pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone! Here’s to adventure!

  11. Thank you for sharing about your work against childhood cancer.

  12. Chris and Karin, it’s an honor to have you fight along with us to Conquer Kids’ Cancer. Kids like Donna are the reason that the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, donors and volunteers continue to combat the #1 disease killer of children. Thank you both for your commitment to proudly go bald and for spreading the word about the need for childhood cancer research funding. You are both heroes for kids with cancer and I thank you for your valuable support.

    • Thanks for your comment, Kathleen! We’re proud and blessed to do so! It’s partially perspective. If a sweet little girl like Donna can brave 31 months of cancer, a grown man (and woman) can brave losing their hair in solidarity. It’s not even comparable, really. And we’re so excited about the amount of money we’ve raised! People are going to give over $1500 to fund childhood cancer research if we shave our heads? I don’t have $1500 to give, but I can certainly give up my hair. Dur. 😉

  13. Pingback: 12 days that amaze, Day 1: TMiYC | … from the bungalow

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