Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Another Fallen Angel

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Once again, a sad goodbye is said, to another survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the same cancer I faced in 1988.  And like me, over the years, faced with dealing with late effects caused by the treatments that saved her life from cancer.

Like so many that I had come to know, I first “met” Davina on a Facebook page for Hodgkin’s survivors facing late effects.  This page is a critical tool for us survivors because where medicine fails us in surveillance and care, the members of this group provide information, experience, guidance, and support.  Myself, I had been on there for years already, as well as other internet support groups.

For the most part, Davina was able to manage her issues, mainly struggling with an undiagnosed shortness of breath.  Many times this issue can be traced to either cardiac or pulmonary causes.  But for Davina, there had been no answers.

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A few years ago, I got to meet Davina in person with another fellow survivor.  We were attending an event for writers who contributed stories to a program called “Visible Ink”, written by patients and survivors, published by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  Davina was so impressed with the program, that she inquired about it.  I explained to her that there is a special “release” that comes from writing, a kind of therapy.  And for those of us that struggle with dealing with the physical issues we were dealing with, and the emotional, often times, simply venting through a story helped in ways professionals could not.

I recall one of the first stories Davina wrote, it was not even cancer related.  But it was about her life as a little girl dealing with teasing she received for a condition with her sight when she was younger.  It had scarred her so badly, that this still bothered her late in life.  In actuality, I almost felt like at times, this issue was worse than dealing with the cancer and its late effects, though clearly we knew it was not.

But she wrote several pieces after that.  And she thanked me for encouraging her to write.  Davina truly enjoyed it, though she was clearly her own worst critic.

Over the last year however, her health started getting worse.  The late developing side effects got more difficult to deal with.  But the whole while, Davina continued to offer support to everyone in our Hodgkin’s society.  And she not only offered support in relation to cancer or treatment side effects.  She also offered support for other issues that many of us were going through.  No matter how much she struggled, she was selfless in support of us all.  And I will never forget that about her.

She passed away this past weekend.  Another to survive cancer, only to succumb to the side effects caused by the treatment that saved her life.

I have experienced this many times over my survivorship.  Davina is now the second friend in the last few months to have left us this way.  As I tell others, no matter how often this happens, it never gets easier to deal with.

Davina, you will be missed.

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3 thoughts on “Another Fallen Angel

  1. Thanks for telling us Paul. I am dealing with severe shortness of breath from high-dose radiation 25 years ago and have no doctors who believe it is related to the radiation. I have counted on this list-serve for many years. -Chris 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    • Chris, we need to continue to advocate for our own care. It is slow going, but I do know that medicine has begun in recent years to paying attention to our needs. And it is happening because of others like us, who reach out to others. We are doing this without the help of major advocacy groups (like the American Cancer Society and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society) which definitely could help save so many with their resources, but only concern themselves with the cure, not the care.
      Please, if you have any questions, please send me an email and I will try to get you the information to get the help you need.

  2. Leslie Lomot on said:

    A beautifully written “share”
    I only met Davina on our FB group 2 years ago when my late effects got worse. She was kind, showed great empathy , and really made me feel connected ( dolly too) to a community that I had been searching for all my life.
    It’s hard to believe that you can feel such kinship to a person you never met face to face. Thank you for posting… What a beautiful lady inside and out.

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