Do you believe in little pink miracles? The simple kind? I do…my belief was inspired by an innocent, little message from Diana…
The Flagship Fest
The first of, what I hope to be, many Flagship City Book Fests was held on September 28th and 29th, 2018. The event, hosted by the Erie Downtown Development Corporation, brought authors, readers, and book store owners together on a stretch of road in the four-hundred block of State Street. During the festival, customers paged through books, children gathered on the steps of the Erie Art Museum for activities, Mayor Schember stopped by, and readers relaxed in comfy chairs of an outdoor makeshift reading room.
Being a brand-new author, I gratefully participated. As a tool to draw readers to my little space in the Erie writing world, I raffled off my books to someone who stopped by to sign my list.
A few hours into the festival, I received a Facebook message from Diana.
Diana and I grew up in the same Parade Street Boulevard neighborhood and had reconnected on Facebook. She wanted a chance to win my novels, but she couldn’t come. She had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and was about to undergo treatment.
Little Pink Miracles
I only had to think for a moment before deciding to open the raffle to my online followers. I posted a message on Facebook stating if people were unable to come to the Flagship City Fest, they could simply message me their name and telephone number, and I would sign them up. A few people took me up on the offer. Diana was one of them.
I’m sure the reason I did not draw the name of the person who won my novels on Sunday, as I promised I would do, was a simple little “pink” miracle. On Monday, October 1st, I remembered the raffle, hurried to my laptop, and brought up a number through a random-number generator program. The number 33 appeared on my laptop. I ran my finger down the raffle list to number 33. And the name Diana Dodson Bool smiled up at me.
You may say, ah, coincidence. I don’t. Not only was October 1st the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it was also Diana’s first day of breast cancer radiation therapy.
Growing up, Diana lived in the house next door. She walked me to kindergarten and helped my mother with my birthday parties. Four years my senior, I remember her as the nicest “older” kid in the neighborhood. She was kind, sweet, and always looking after the younger kids.
Fast forward fifteen years and Diana became a teacher. (No surprise there.) She worked in this capacity for a total of thirty-two years, the last twenty at Rolling Ridge Elementary School, before retiring seven years ago. Then, this past August, Diana received the bad news; she had breast cancer.
She said she surprised herself with a calmness that she can only attribute to her faith. “I am a Christian, and I know God was with me. I have an inner peace like I’ve never quite felt before. To this day, I still have not cried,” she said.
During Diana’s first visit with her surgeon, Dr. Engel, he told her, “You’re not going to die from this.”
For Diana, those words were comforting. “I thought, okay, well let’s get on with this then.” Although she does admit that, at home, when her husband asked if he could get her anything, “I thought for a minute and then answered, ‘a scotch and water and chocolate chip cookies.’”
With this, Diana laughs, and as she does, I remember that boisterous laugh from childhood—from Diana, strong, sweet, optimistic Diana—now a grown woman whom I’m beginning to realize is the type of woman who is sure to weather most any storm.
The SAVI Brachytherapy treatment
Diana’s three choices included a lumpectomy, breast reduction, or a mastectomy. She elected the lumpectomy and because she did, she was a candidate to receive the SAVI Breast brachytherapy. Typically, radiation includes five or more weeks of five-day-a-week radiation treatments. With SAVI brachytherapy, SAVI catheters deliver radiation to the lumpectomy site. That treatment occurred in a much shorter time frame–two times a day for five consecutive days.
After several doctor appointments, screenings, and consults, Bool was determined to be a viable candidate.
“I was so fortunate to qualify,” she said. “I still can’t believe how blessed I am.”
In this procedure, a tiny radiation seed travels through each catheter to deliver a precise dose of radiation, customized for the exact size, shape or location of the tumor cavity. (https://www.ciannamedical.com/savi/how-it-works/)
Rather than the burning sensation that sometimes accompanies radiation to the outside of a woman’s body, Diana said the SAVI therapy produced no pain. She attributes some of the painlessness of the procedure to the care of her doctors and clinicians who continually made sure she was comfortable.
The people who matter
Diana said the loving support of her daughters, Katie and Meghan, and her husband, Chuck, have helped her through this period in her life, and she believes her six-month-old granddaughter, Samantha, was the best medicine ever. She’s sure they are a part of the reason she’s come through this so positively. She feels blessed to have them, and other family and friends who delivered flowers and meals, in her life. She also said there were a myriad of medical professionals who were encouraging.
“My family physician, Dr. Debra Radder, is an angel. She is the one who reminded me I was behind in my mammograms,” she said. Other medical personnel in the community who went above and beyond were the radiologist, Dr. Thomas, the Regional Cancer Center’s Medical Oncologist and Radiation Oncologist, the nurses and technicians at the various health facilities, the home health care worker, and her surgeon, Dr. Engel.
“Dr. Engel spent an hour and a half with us at my first appointment,” she said. “Everyone treated me like I was their only patient.”
And while Bool is realistic, her positivity is hard to combat. “Yes, it could come back,” she said. “But breast cancer is not usually a death sentence. Women have to remember that.” What she wants to relay to other women is: “You have to be good to yourselves. Don’t be afraid. Schedule that mammogram. And remain positive.”
Bool refuses to bring her family and friends down. “This has to be a positive experience. If I can show other people how wonderful the medical personnel in Erie were and how a good attitude helps, then maybe women will be less afraid.”
Positive words of encouragement from a woman who used to hold my hand when I crossed the street. Her love, strength, and kindness are still apparent.
And what about the festival
So, back to the festival. Was the first annual Flagship City Fest a success? It was for me—in so many ways.
Cyndie “CJ” Zahner is an author of The Suicide Gene and Dream Wide Awake, of which Diana Dodson Bool is currently reading. Follower Zahner on her website at www.cjzahner.com, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, twitter, goodreads and Bookbub.