|Dawn Mellon speaking at the 2013 Saint Valentine's|
Day Luncheon and Fashion Show
Dawn Mellon, a non-hodgkin's lymphoma survivor gave a touching speech during lunch at the 2013 Saint Valentine's Day Luncheon and Fashion Show on Tuesday, February 12th at the Myerson Symphony Center. Below is the transcript of her inspiring speech.
"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
LIFE IS LIFE, FIGHT FOR IT!
…says Mother Teresa..
I began THE FIGHT FOR MY LIFE when I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Of course, my first reaction was disbelief,
I’m too young – and quite, frankly – too busy to have cancer. After all, I have a husband, two children to raise and a fast-paced career. I don’t have time for this
But, all that didn’t really matter.
Because, in the blink of an eye, I went from a full-time fashion stylist to a full-time cancer patient.
In a week’s time, I had a litany of diagnostic scans, biopsies, and surgeries.
I’ve been given a 70% chance of reaching the 5-year mark, the point at which, if the cancer doesn’t recur, I will be considered ‘cured.’
Scared, shocked and still in complete disbelief, I began chemotherapy.
Two and a half weeks later, I no longer recognized my reflection in the mirror. The woman staring back at me, the woman who ironically made a career out of helping people look their best, was now bald and scarred.
No eye lashes.
Two very visible and rather unsightly scars from two biopsies.
A third scar under which the port, used for IV administration of the chemotherapy, protruded an inch from my skin.
When I wasn’t sick in bed from the chemotherapy treatments,
My morning routine consisted of:
- Taking a shower;
- Positioning double stick tape on my bald head:
- Donning my wig;
- Applying false eye lashes;
- Finding clothes that covered my scars and my port; and
- Putting on my ‘game face.’
Mothers care for the sick. Mothers don’t get sick.
I didn’t choose cancer. Cancer chose me.
But, now I had to choose: How would I live (or die) with this life-threatening illness?
The choice was easy. A great husband, two equally -great children, and an even greater God.
Armed with my faith in the Lord and the best medical care possible, I decided, for me, cancer wasn’t going to be a death sentence; it was going to be a life sentence.
And, it was, in many ways, thanks to people like you…people who are sitting in the audience today…my husband, some of my dearest friends, as well as complete strangers.
During my journey, I got to see people at their very best…a side, that, sadly, many others don’t get to see.
And, let me tell you what people do when they’re at they’re very best…let me tell you what I experienced:
- I sat through ONE HUNDRED hours of chemotherapy and was never – even for a minute – alone. I always had a friend by my side;
- Simultaneously, someone else was running errands for me;
- And, others were cooking for my family;
- In fact, I received more than 50 home cooked meals;
- Two of my neighbors drove my daughter to and from dance class 72 times; and
- I received hundreds of cards, e-mails, text messages flowers and, other thoughtful gifts.
What I can’t quantify, however, are the number of prayers sent up by my family, my friends total strangers.
I can’t tell you how many times I’d be introduced to someone and he or she would say, ‘Oh, I know you, our Sunday school class is praying for you or your name is on my prayer chain.’
Perhaps the most impressive story I have to share is when a nun from Ireland sent my photograph to the Sisters of Calcutta who placed it on Mother Teresa’s tomb and prayed for me every day. A gesture initiated by, my sister-in-law who lives in Cincinnati.
I literally had people from Texas to Ireland to India praying on my behalf. In many cases, total strangers banning together for me.
Now, it’s YOUR turn to help a stranger.
I don’t know many of you, and, likewise, many of don’t know me, nor do we know that all the people who have, are or will be affected by Leukemia or Lymphoma in their life times.
But, I believe in YOU, I believe in YOUR GOODNESS…I’ve seen it… I believe in your ability to extend yourselves for others the way so many did when I was in need.
You’ve already helped by being here today.
But, there is more that you can do and you can do it now…by purchasing a raffle ticket or by making a further donation.
And, while you many not think your single contribution will have much of an impact, I hope after hearing my story I’ve demonstrated what, collectively, a single gesture, can do.
As Mother Teresa said,’ LIFE IS LIFE, FIGHT FOR IT!
I am alive and in remission today because I put my trust in God and because of the many advancements in modern medicine…yes, medicine has come a long way…but, we still don’t have a cure.
Your contribution will go toward finding that cure.
And, when that day comes, events like this one are no longer necessary because we’ll be able to count cancer among other life-threatening diseases of the past."
To learn more about the Saint Valentine's Day Luncheon and Fashion Show, please visit: saintvalentinesdayluncheon.org