“Mum, why are these horrible things happening to me?”

Donna Coleman, Danielle’s mom, remembers her daughter’s courage in the face of cancer.

In late summer 2011, Danielle started to complain about a sore neck. It turns out, her lymph nodes were swollen. After numerous tests, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive cancer that needs prompt treatment.

Danielle’s life shattered.  She was admitted to hospital and, despite being four months pregnant, she started chemotherapy.

Hospitals are chaotic and confusing — noise, lights, beeping machines, doctors, nurses, blood tests and treatment plans. You feel so lost and desperately alone. You want to be surrounded by friends to share a laugh and reminisce. You crave normalcy.  Unfortunately, few of Danielle’s friends visited.  I don’t blame them. They were young. Cancer was foreign to them. Besides, the hospital had rules about visitors bringing in germs.

Thankfully, donors like you were there for my daughter, providing her with support and lifting her spirits. Thanks to you, Danielle received a VOBOC Vo-Pak, a backpack filled with comfort items and resources. It was a lifeline. It represented love, compassion, caring and kindness. It was like a big hug. It meant everything to my daughter. We were so depleted. This gift filled us back up.

In November, the baby was in distress. Danielle underwent an emergency C-section.  Olivia Riley was born at 27-weeks’ gestation, weighing 1.5 lbs.  Despite heroic, life-saving efforts, Olivia Riley only survived 19 hours.

Danielle was crushed. She asked: “Mum, why are these horrible things happening to me?” 

Even though Danielle was extremely sick and in pain, we vowed not to give up. We decorated her room for Christmas, we talked, played cards, told bad jokes, made memories. In December, we broke her out of hospital. For one night, Danielle slept in her own bed, played with her dogs and cats and enjoyed being home for Christmas.

The next day, we were back in hospital.  Danielle’s health started to deteriorate. She fought to live, but, the cancer won. Days before her 31st birthday, Danielle passed away. I miss her every moment of every day.

My daughter is one of the many, many adolescents and young adults with cancer who are helped by donors like you. Your donation lets these vulnerable young patients know someone cares; someone wishes them well. It gives them tools and resources for their journey with cancer. VOBOC gets it when no one else does. Please donate to VOBOC so AYAs like Danielle have someone to turn to and rely on during the most difficult times of their lives.

Danielle Auger