(Richfield, Minn.) – Every once in a while you come across a cause you feel drawn to support. For anyone who has ever been affected by breast cancer—and there are a lot of you out there—this is one of them.
A Kickstarter campaign is underway to raise the funds needed to publish the new book, “Breast Cancer: A Journey with Friends,” in time Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is observed in October. The book is a collection of the personal stories of more than a dozen breast cancer survivors and health care professionals from around the world.
Included are such details as how the cancer was diagnosed, the treatment the women went through, an examination of the emotions they felt during their breast cancer journey, and what they learned along the way that they want to share.
The book’s author is Richfield resident Donna DeGracia, who currently is the Director of Curriculum for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. She is also a breast cancer survivor.
“I saw it (the tumor) on the ultrasound. So, I knew before I got the official diagnosis that I had breast cancer,” she says. “There’s always that moment when you think, ‘Oh my God. I could die,’ which I did go through very briefly. After that it was like, ‘Okay, let’s get this taken care of right away.’”
Once she found out what kind of cancer she had, DeGracia did some research and found there was a 15 percent chance of a recurrence, so she opted for a double mastectomy. “I have no regrets. It was the right decision for me,” she says.
Some women who undergo the procedure have reconstructive surgery done at the same time. In DeGracia’s case, she waited two years. In the book she explains why she waited that long. “I didn’t think it would matter whether or not I had breasts, but I came to realize it did,” she says.
Nearly a decade later, DeGracia remains cancer-free. She is hoping that her book, once published, will serve as resource for women throughout the stages of their own cancer journeys—from diagnosis to hopefully remission. “When I was going through it, there was nothing like this out there,” she says. “A book like this would have helped prepare me for some of the physical changes and made it easier to talk about it with my family.”
Once the book is published and begins selling, DeGracia is planning to donate a significant portion of the proceeds from book sales to charity. Locally, the charity she has selected to support is Hope Chest for Breast Cancer, www.hopechest.com. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide for the urgent emergency needs of local breast cancer patients, such as paying electric bills and helping with daycare.
She also plans to support efforts to build a cancer center in Tanzania, Africa, so women will have access to preventative care that they are unable to obtain in their home country at the present time.
“I am really hopeful that this book is going to be successful, not only in helping people who have received a cancer diagnosis, but also the charities dedicated to helping them,” says DeGracia, who sees several potential audiences for the title: women recently diagnosed with breast cancer and their friends and family, people who are studying medicine, and caregivers currently working with breast cancer patients.
If you wish to contribute to the effort to get the book published, here is a link to Donna DeGracia’s Kickstarter campaign page: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1125097839/breast-cancer-a-journey-with-friends. The goal is to raise $12,993 by Fri., Aug. 21, 2015.
About the Author
Donna DeGracia of Richfield, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis, is the Director of Curriculum for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Her job is to design the curriculum and coordinate the classroom teaching for the program she oversees.
Before transitioning to a career in education, DeGracia worked as a physician assistant herself in family practice in the Twin Cities’ South Metro. She earned her physician assistant certification from Wake Forrest in 1977 and a Masters from the University of Nebraska in 2001.
Prior to earning her degree, she got practical experience in the field while working in the Peace Corps in South Korea, the country where she spent most of her childhood. Her parents were missionaries.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is being offered to you copyright free and cost-free. High-resolution photography is also available for free upon request. To arrange an interview of your own, or request a review copy of the manuscript for “Breast Cancer: A Journey with Friends,” contact Rachel M. Anderson, Publicist, at 952-240-2513.
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CAPTION: Donna DeGracia (Center) with daughters Lisseth Shulte (L) and Lesley Tuomi (R), supporting Race for the Cure