I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have donated to Donna’s Memorial Fund. Although I knew many of our friends and family would donate, the staff in the Philanthropy Office at PAMF has been very surprised by the number of people and families (now over 75) who have made contributions, and have commented that Donna must have been an incredibly special person to have been loved by so many people. I gladly told them that words can only begin to describe what a wonderful and incredible gift Donna was to all of us!
As you know, Donna was a registered nurse and the Mission of her Memorial Fund is to instill Donna’s love for patients and their families in new oncology nurses at PAMF. We are going to sponsor training courses focused on excellent bedside manner and empathy with family members. Although their formal training will have provided some instruction in these areas, your generosity will enable the new nurses to be exposed to specialized, hands-on training that will stay with them throughout their careers, effectively multiplying Donna’s love in a widespread manner for many years to come. I will provide some additional updates as we get the first few nurses through the course during the early part of 2013.
I went by PAMF today to drop off some more donations and give copies of Donna’s book to some of the nurses who provided us with such excellent care during her treatments. As I was waiting in the Oncology department for one of the nurses, a pretty woman came out from the treatment area to make some follow-up appointments. What struck me was that she was about the same age that Donna was when the cancer was first diagnosed. My mind flashed back to the early days of Donna’s cancer and my heart went out to this lady, knowing all the trials that we went through over the years. She was alone and I said a little prayer of thanks for the countless times that I was able to be there for Donna’s appointments. She asked for directions to one of the departments where certain tests are performed – a department we knew all too well. We shared a polite smile as she left.
I handed out the books and had one extra, so I knew it was meant for her. I walked down to the department she had asked about and found her sitting in the waiting room. I wanted to tell her a little about Donna, about the excellent care we had received – I wanted to encourage her, but started crying as I approached her. Since a blubbering stranger is not usually a welcome site, I switched to Plan B and just said “I would like to give you this book that my wife wrote. I think you will really enjoy it.” After a deep breath in an attempt to regain my composure, I finished with “It is a happy story.” I turned and left as I started tearing up, choking back sobs.
As I drove back to my office I realized 1) that my efforts at encouraging this lady were pretty pathetic and 2) that I was doing the best that I could at this time. I don’t know her story and I truly hope that it is better than I am imagining – that she was getting the last set of tests before receiving a clean bill of health. I do know that if she reads Donna’s book, she will experience a life full of joy despite suffering, a heart of boundless compassion and love, and a faith that anchored Donna’s soul through every storm.
So Donna’s legacy continued in at least two significant ways today – through the good work that is beginning because of the Memorial Fund and through her book. Thank you again for your donations. If you check back in a few months, there promises to be some great stories that we will have to share with you!