In Memory of D’Ana Reed. Founder. Mutant. Sister. Friend.

 

D and Court

D’Ana and her sister Courtney helped found Living LFS. They soon became our mutant sisters as we worked to bring those living LFS together. D’Ana lived fully and completely and shared her positive energy and laughter with anyone she ran across from childhood friends, to chemosabes(chemo friends) to her mutant family. The way D’Ana lived is very much the foundation of Living LFS and refected in our core values: Community, Compassion, Respect, Integrity and Levity. D’Ana had brilliant ideas and was the first we’d go to when we needed ideas. She came up with the idea for our first T-shirt fundraiser- Have You Hugged A MUTANT Today?

D tre mills ramer mutant

She was the first to pack up and hit the road to visit a friend in need, her mutant family just gave her many more opportunities and these connections were so valuable, she wanted others to have the experience too. After many years of living with metastatic breast cancer, D’Ana passed away, as she lived, with the ones she loved most right there. We lost more than a mutant sister that day.

 

Courtney shared with us D’Ana’s words of wisdom and we know she’d want us to share them with you.

 

My sister and I have shared a lot of things over the years, but of all the things I could have possibly shared with her, a genetic disorder that makes you prone to multiple cancers certainly was not on the list. I wish this was one of the things I could have hidden from her so she couldn’t have it, like the “good Barbies” and other toys I used to stash in order to keep them from her clutches. If I could go back in time, I would much rather share those than share this. But we are here now together as Mutant Sisters and making the best of it. So I will share with you a few things that I have shared with her in hopes that you too will be able to find some bright spots on your journey.

Surround yourself with POSITIVE ENERGY.  A positive attitude and keeping company with positive people can and will get you through anything. Sure we all have bad days…we’re entitled, but try not to let them weigh you down.

BE SELFISH! Now is not the time for you to take care of the needs of others, they should be   reminding you to take care of yourself so you can be as healthy and happy as possible.

LAUGHTER is a daily necessity. Cancer is no laughing matter, but let’s face it…isn’t everything a little bit easier when done with a smile and a little bit of giggling?

LIVE life FULLY AND COMPLETELY. Be proud of who you are and the fact that you are a fighter. Keep trying new things, meeting new people, traveling and experiencing all that life has to offer.

-D’Ana Reed


Beauty in an Unlikely Place- Fannie Remembers Her Mother’s Breast Cancer Journey

Fannie learned some very powerful lessons from her mother through her breast cancer battles. She learned about self awareness, how to advocate and how she chooses to live despite living with LFS.  Thank you Fannie for sharing your memories of your mother and her strength with us.

 

My mom never knew she had Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. I was the first one to get genetic testing done.

fannie-lemay-mom-fish-copy

Fannie’s mom. One of her favorite pictures of how she lived.

My mom died of breast cancer when I was 21 years old; she was 45. She fought a great 10 year battle. Four times she had breast cancer. She just thought she was the unluckiest person in the world. But then again her family was almost all gone, killed by different cancers. All pretty young too.

 

AWARENESS:  Know Your Body

My mom always said it was important to know your body. She touched herself a lot(not in a weird way) and encouraged us to do the same. So when she felt a little lump in her left breast, she knew it hadn’t been there for a long time. She got worried and off to the doctor she went. I’m not sure how diagnosis worked back then, I think now doctors are way more aware that breast cancer can hit you pretty much at any age. Her doctor simply told her not to worry about it, that it was probably calcifications and to come and see him in six months.

ADVOCACY: Knowing What is Right for You

That doctor had no idea what he was getting himself into. My mom wanted a biopsy and she wanted it ASAP. The poor doctor started to argue with her that it was really overkill and that she should wait. My mom told him in no uncertain terms that she would handcuff herself to his desk and call the media if he didn’t arrange the biopsy right then and there. The doctor finally agreed and scheduled the biopsy with the proper department.  That’s how my mom discovered for the first time she had breast cancer.

fannie-lemay-mom-scarf-copy

Sadly, I remember very little about my mom’s journey through her illness. I was young. I didn’t grasp what cancer could do. After all, breast cancer was an “easy” cancer, right? That’s what they told us anyway. I was also out of the house for her last two breast cancers, the harder ones. I remember one thing about my mom’s fight with cancer: her self- advocacy.

 

LIVING: Knowing How You Choose to Live

Did those six months change anything? We’ll never know. I like to think that her tenacity to get the biopsy allowed her to see her 5 year old daughter grow to the age of 15. Mostly, I think it allowed her to start her Li-Fraumeni journey with confidence and a sense of power over what was happening to her. Cancer can be so scary, being confident and self aware can greatly help one heal. My mom cried very little during her fight against cancer. I like to think that it was because she felt strong and at peace with what was happening to her.

After 10 years of off and on battle, my mom decided she was done with all of it: the chemo, the doctors, and the hurting. She finished her journey like she had started it-in control. She made the transition beautiful for us. She found an amazing hospice house where all the nurses and doctors could be qualified as angels. And she went, pretty peacefully. She left me, the only heir of her mutation with the strength to fight for what I want and the power to not let cancer rule my life. She was happy, even in turmoil. I wish to be happy too.