By Pamela Mirabella
In 2005 David Wiemar’s wife, Donna, was told by her doctor that she had a lump. Wiemar said Donna was in disbelief because she always self-checked herself.
Turned out, the doctor was correct and she infact had breast cancer.
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Wiemar shared Donna’s story and what it is like to watch the one you love suffer from a dreaded disease.
He said he wanted to give hope to those not only experiencing the disease themselves, but to those who suffer alongside of them and is their support system. This is a story as told from the other side of breast cancer.
Wiemar said it took five scans before they located Donna’s cancer. He said, “It was up against her breast wall and they immediately scheduled surgery. Sadly, by this time it had become a mass.”
Doctors removed one breast and Donna began chemotherapy. Wiemar said those days in the hospital are still vivid in his mind. “Watching the woman I love suffer was terrible. I slept on the small couch in her room. That was just the beginning. Once I got her home, we started the year long process.”
Donna is a nurse at St. Jude. Because of her sensitive job with sick children, it was decided she would forego working around the kids. Wiemar said, “St. Jude was great. They held her job and even paid her a little bit. The best thing they did, was checked on her. We cannot say enough about the caliber of people at St. Jude’s.”
Wiemar said watching his wife endure chemotherapy was the hardest. “Chemo at that time was so hard on the body. Sometimes I felt that the cure was worst than the disease. Donna lost all her hair. That was so tough on her. We had planned a vacation and the doctor said in ten days it will start falling out, and just like clockwork, it did just that. So, we both went and got our heads shaved.
Hers became slick. Mine came back. There were some times that the chemo really did awful stuff to her body, but because of our love, we survived together. After chemo, we started looking for reconstruction and found a doctor in New Orleans that would use her own body fat to recreated her breast.”
Wiemar said the couple set up the surgery, but then a disaster hit. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and decimated the town and the hospital. He explained, “The doctor relocated and Donna followed. He ended up cutting a large portion from her stomach and designed a breast. He did a phenomenal job.”
Once home, Donna dealt with healing and scars. Wiemar said all he could do was offer help and be there through the ordeal. He said, “The whole experience was awful. It was awful for her to have to go through that. It was awful to have to watch her go through it. It was just all the way around awful.”
Donna returned to work after a year and has had regular scans and been cancer free since then.
Wiemar said at his place of business, Wiemar’s Jewelry, he hears customers all the time speak of having to go through their own cancer nightmares. He said, “As a retailer, I have lots of older folks in the store and I see and hear their stories all the time. I try not to make it difficult for them. I try to ease the mental pain as much as I can. We have seen so many die. But, it is important to remember that we have seen many recover, too. Life is really strange. If God wants you, I guess He will take you no matter what.”
Wiemar said it is because of his wife’s courageous fight and those stories of those who travel in-and-out his store, that he pulls out his “pink” every October. He finished with, “I wear it each and every day, proclaiming loudly it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”