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Meet Donna

Esophageal Cancer Survivor

“It never occurred to me that I would be somebody who would get cancer.”

Donna insisted something was wrong. Headaches persisted and her balance steadily deteriorated.

She went to appointment after appointment with her primary doctor but the cause remained a mystery.

Finally, an MRI revealed the problem: Donna had a brain tumor, which sent her treatment into overdrive.

Three days later, Donna was undergoing brain surgery.

After the surgery, Donna learned the tumor was the result of something even bigger. She had stage 4 esophageal cancer that had spread to her brain.

“I felt like I hit a brick wall full force,” says Donna. “It never occurred to me that I would be somebody who would get cancer.”

When she was told her prognosis was two years, Donna says she “got ready for the fight of my life.”

She wasn’t ready to say goodbye to her husband and her “grandbaby” whom she wanted to see grow up, and her wide network of friends. 

Donna was prescribed an aggressive treatment plan of radiation followed by two series of chemotherapy.

Aside from losing her hair, she felt fortunate that she escaped many of the common side effects. She credits her treatment team – especially the nurses at Moffitt Cancer Center – with keeping her spirits up.

“It’s you that they’re focused on which I think is incredible,” she says.

It’s been three years since Donna’s diagnosis, and she’s still going strong.

“Before cancer was a death sentence, now it’s not,” she says. “I didn’t expect this but people are fighting for you.”