Terry Fox Run guest speaker, a mother on a mission

Community Aug 29, 2009 Ancaster News

Judy Danis promised her daughter Melissa she’d make a difference.

She plans to keep that promise.

Melissa was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma on Feb. 13, 2006, a week after her 21st birthday.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or soft tissue. It occurs most often in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20 and is usually found in the pelvis, thigh, lower leg, upper arm and ribs. Ewing’s sarcoma cells can also spread to other areas of the body, including bone marrow and the lungs.

“You never imagine your child would have cancer. To me, it’s unthinkable that any parent would have to go through that, so when the doctor told me Melissa had cancer, probably had it for the last five years, had been misdiagnosed and had three months to live, I was in shock,” said Ms. Danis. “All I could say was, ‘Do what you can. Do your best to save my baby.’”

Melissa quickly lost the use of her legs and became wheelchair bound.

“There was nothing I could do, so my focus was not on her having cancer, but helping her believe in herself and enjoy whatever time she had left,” said Ms. Danis. “I said to her, ‘I don’t care how much time you have left, I don’t want to have memories of you dying on the couch, I want to have memories of you enjoying every minute you have.’ A lot of people didn’t agree with or understand that, but I refused to see her as a dying patient; she was my daughter.”

After sleepless nights of trying to figure out how to help Melissa, Ms. Danis found the answer.

“I gave her a pebble I had picked up on a beach and said, ‘Every morning, I want you to pick it up, smile and be thankful for something,’” she said. “I said, ‘I know it’s hard to be thankful when you have cancer, but you have many people that love you… there are many things that you could be thankful for. I also want you to find the courage and strength to accomplish something every day.’”

That’s what Melissa did.

“One day, she called me and said, ‘Mom, you won’t believe it, I’m all dressed, sitting on the balcony, having coffee and it’s 9:30 a. m.’ Three months had passed and she was still alive. She even started walking again,” said Ms. Danis. “Six months after that, between treatments, she was back dancing with her friends. She never gave up.”

But the cancer never gave up either.

On Aug. 8, 2007, doctors told Ms. Danis the cancer had spread.

“The cancer had invaded her bone marrow and lungs,” she said. “The doctors told me there was nothing more they could do.”

But Melissa agreed to be the guest speaker at a Terry Fox Run event in September 2007 at her younger sisters’ school.

“Leslie and Allison have always been really involved with the run and asked Melissa to speak,” said Ms. Danis. “Though she was getting very sick, she said yes.”

Wheelchair bound once more, Melissa found the courage to stand as she spoke to the students.

“She asked them to see the event as something really important. That the money they raise is to save people like her. She told them to always believe in themselves, no matter what happens and enjoy life to the fullest,” said Ms. Danis, starting to cry. “I had never been more proud of my daughter.”

After Melissa finished her speech, she participated in the event.

“When I brought her home, she sat down on the couch and never walked again,” said Ms. Danis.

Melissa died on Nov. 8, 2007. She was 23. “She was my first born, but also my best

friend and confidante,” said Ms. Danis. “Her courage and strength is unparalleled. I miss everything about her.”

To keep Melissa’s memory alive, Ms. Danis will be the guest speaker at the Stoney Creek Terry Fox Run on Sunday, Sept. 13 at Lakeland Centre, Confederation Park.

“I want to continue the message she gave everybody – never give up – and know that an event like the run is a very important one,” she said. “Even if somebody gives something as little as $5 to the event, it makes a difference.”

Ms. Danis says when Melissa was diagnosed with cancer, 12 other patients the same age were diagnosed around the same time.

“There’s one left… we need to make a difference,” she said. “The last couple of weeks Melissa and I had together, she made me promise I would make a difference,” she added. “There’s nothing more important than that.”

The Stoney Creek Terry Fox Run will take place Sunday, Sept. 13 at Lakeland Centre, Confederation Park.

For more information, please visit www.myspace.com/scterryfoxrun

Terry Fox Run guest speaker, a mother on a mission

Community Aug 29, 2009 Ancaster News

Judy Danis promised her daughter Melissa she’d make a difference.

She plans to keep that promise.

Melissa was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma on Feb. 13, 2006, a week after her 21st birthday.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or soft tissue. It occurs most often in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20 and is usually found in the pelvis, thigh, lower leg, upper arm and ribs. Ewing’s sarcoma cells can also spread to other areas of the body, including bone marrow and the lungs.

“You never imagine your child would have cancer. To me, it’s unthinkable that any parent would have to go through that, so when the doctor told me Melissa had cancer, probably had it for the last five years, had been misdiagnosed and had three months to live, I was in shock,” said Ms. Danis. “All I could say was, ‘Do what you can. Do your best to save my baby.’”

Melissa quickly lost the use of her legs and became wheelchair bound.

“There was nothing I could do, so my focus was not on her having cancer, but helping her believe in herself and enjoy whatever time she had left,” said Ms. Danis. “I said to her, ‘I don’t care how much time you have left, I don’t want to have memories of you dying on the couch, I want to have memories of you enjoying every minute you have.’ A lot of people didn’t agree with or understand that, but I refused to see her as a dying patient; she was my daughter.”

After sleepless nights of trying to figure out how to help Melissa, Ms. Danis found the answer.

“I gave her a pebble I had picked up on a beach and said, ‘Every morning, I want you to pick it up, smile and be thankful for something,’” she said. “I said, ‘I know it’s hard to be thankful when you have cancer, but you have many people that love you… there are many things that you could be thankful for. I also want you to find the courage and strength to accomplish something every day.’”

That’s what Melissa did.

“One day, she called me and said, ‘Mom, you won’t believe it, I’m all dressed, sitting on the balcony, having coffee and it’s 9:30 a. m.’ Three months had passed and she was still alive. She even started walking again,” said Ms. Danis. “Six months after that, between treatments, she was back dancing with her friends. She never gave up.”

But the cancer never gave up either.

On Aug. 8, 2007, doctors told Ms. Danis the cancer had spread.

“The cancer had invaded her bone marrow and lungs,” she said. “The doctors told me there was nothing more they could do.”

But Melissa agreed to be the guest speaker at a Terry Fox Run event in September 2007 at her younger sisters’ school.

“Leslie and Allison have always been really involved with the run and asked Melissa to speak,” said Ms. Danis. “Though she was getting very sick, she said yes.”

Wheelchair bound once more, Melissa found the courage to stand as she spoke to the students.

“She asked them to see the event as something really important. That the money they raise is to save people like her. She told them to always believe in themselves, no matter what happens and enjoy life to the fullest,” said Ms. Danis, starting to cry. “I had never been more proud of my daughter.”

After Melissa finished her speech, she participated in the event.

“When I brought her home, she sat down on the couch and never walked again,” said Ms. Danis.

Melissa died on Nov. 8, 2007. She was 23. “She was my first born, but also my best

friend and confidante,” said Ms. Danis. “Her courage and strength is unparalleled. I miss everything about her.”

To keep Melissa’s memory alive, Ms. Danis will be the guest speaker at the Stoney Creek Terry Fox Run on Sunday, Sept. 13 at Lakeland Centre, Confederation Park.

“I want to continue the message she gave everybody – never give up – and know that an event like the run is a very important one,” she said. “Even if somebody gives something as little as $5 to the event, it makes a difference.”

Ms. Danis says when Melissa was diagnosed with cancer, 12 other patients the same age were diagnosed around the same time.

“There’s one left… we need to make a difference,” she said. “The last couple of weeks Melissa and I had together, she made me promise I would make a difference,” she added. “There’s nothing more important than that.”

The Stoney Creek Terry Fox Run will take place Sunday, Sept. 13 at Lakeland Centre, Confederation Park.

For more information, please visit www.myspace.com/scterryfoxrun

Terry Fox Run guest speaker, a mother on a mission

Community Aug 29, 2009 Ancaster News

Judy Danis promised her daughter Melissa she’d make a difference.

She plans to keep that promise.

Melissa was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma on Feb. 13, 2006, a week after her 21st birthday.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or soft tissue. It occurs most often in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20 and is usually found in the pelvis, thigh, lower leg, upper arm and ribs. Ewing’s sarcoma cells can also spread to other areas of the body, including bone marrow and the lungs.

“You never imagine your child would have cancer. To me, it’s unthinkable that any parent would have to go through that, so when the doctor told me Melissa had cancer, probably had it for the last five years, had been misdiagnosed and had three months to live, I was in shock,” said Ms. Danis. “All I could say was, ‘Do what you can. Do your best to save my baby.’”

Melissa quickly lost the use of her legs and became wheelchair bound.

“There was nothing I could do, so my focus was not on her having cancer, but helping her believe in herself and enjoy whatever time she had left,” said Ms. Danis. “I said to her, ‘I don’t care how much time you have left, I don’t want to have memories of you dying on the couch, I want to have memories of you enjoying every minute you have.’ A lot of people didn’t agree with or understand that, but I refused to see her as a dying patient; she was my daughter.”

After sleepless nights of trying to figure out how to help Melissa, Ms. Danis found the answer.

“I gave her a pebble I had picked up on a beach and said, ‘Every morning, I want you to pick it up, smile and be thankful for something,’” she said. “I said, ‘I know it’s hard to be thankful when you have cancer, but you have many people that love you… there are many things that you could be thankful for. I also want you to find the courage and strength to accomplish something every day.’”

That’s what Melissa did.

“One day, she called me and said, ‘Mom, you won’t believe it, I’m all dressed, sitting on the balcony, having coffee and it’s 9:30 a. m.’ Three months had passed and she was still alive. She even started walking again,” said Ms. Danis. “Six months after that, between treatments, she was back dancing with her friends. She never gave up.”

But the cancer never gave up either.

On Aug. 8, 2007, doctors told Ms. Danis the cancer had spread.

“The cancer had invaded her bone marrow and lungs,” she said. “The doctors told me there was nothing more they could do.”

But Melissa agreed to be the guest speaker at a Terry Fox Run event in September 2007 at her younger sisters’ school.

“Leslie and Allison have always been really involved with the run and asked Melissa to speak,” said Ms. Danis. “Though she was getting very sick, she said yes.”

Wheelchair bound once more, Melissa found the courage to stand as she spoke to the students.

“She asked them to see the event as something really important. That the money they raise is to save people like her. She told them to always believe in themselves, no matter what happens and enjoy life to the fullest,” said Ms. Danis, starting to cry. “I had never been more proud of my daughter.”

After Melissa finished her speech, she participated in the event.

“When I brought her home, she sat down on the couch and never walked again,” said Ms. Danis.

Melissa died on Nov. 8, 2007. She was 23. “She was my first born, but also my best

friend and confidante,” said Ms. Danis. “Her courage and strength is unparalleled. I miss everything about her.”

To keep Melissa’s memory alive, Ms. Danis will be the guest speaker at the Stoney Creek Terry Fox Run on Sunday, Sept. 13 at Lakeland Centre, Confederation Park.

“I want to continue the message she gave everybody – never give up – and know that an event like the run is a very important one,” she said. “Even if somebody gives something as little as $5 to the event, it makes a difference.”

Ms. Danis says when Melissa was diagnosed with cancer, 12 other patients the same age were diagnosed around the same time.

“There’s one left… we need to make a difference,” she said. “The last couple of weeks Melissa and I had together, she made me promise I would make a difference,” she added. “There’s nothing more important than that.”

The Stoney Creek Terry Fox Run will take place Sunday, Sept. 13 at Lakeland Centre, Confederation Park.

For more information, please visit www.myspace.com/scterryfoxrun