From Survivor to Thriver: The Healing Power of Giving Back
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ROBIN ROBERTSAs a cancer survivor -- though I prefer the word, "thriver" -- you're often given the gift of a new perspective on life. And sometimes, you also find a new purpose -- helping others fight the many battles that come with trying to stay alive. This is a story about compassion and the healing power of giving back, in our special series, "The Cutting Edge of Cancer."
Keep going. Just like that, keep going.
ROBIN ROBERTSDonna Deegan is always running. Nearly every morning, you'll find her on the sands of Jacksonville Beach, often alongside her husband, Tim.
DONNA DEEGANI think it is the fact that you only depend on yourself. You're actually going someplace. You start at point A. You end up at point B, however far down the road you want to go.
ROBIN ROBERTSDonna's journey has been far from a simple trip from point A to point B. Rather, it's an incredible story of one cancer survivor paying it forward that began 15 years ago. She was an anchor for the Jacksonville local news when, like so many other women, she got the horrible news: breast cancer.
DONNA DEEGANAnd it was tough. I mean, there were days that I would literally sit there with a trash can next to me on the set and have to puke in commercial breaks.
ROBIN ROBERTSHer station manager suggested she start a blog detailing her experience. And the reaction surprised her.
DONNA DEEGANAnd this thread that kept coming through all of those responses, or many of those responses, was I don't have insurance. I don't have a family system like you do. I don't have a good job. I'm frightened. I can't buy my drugs and put food on the table for my kids. And I thought, that is crazy because here I was really trying to keep my head above water in this horrible situation, and I had all those things. I had a great job, a great support system. And I just thought, wow, that shouldn't be the case.
ROBIN ROBERTSShe decided to do something about it and formed The Donna Foundation, dedicated to helping women pay for their critical needs while they were going through treatment, women like Michele Morin.
MICHELE MORINYou're fighting for your life. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know if you can even get another job to help you pay for those bills.
ROBIN ROBERTSDays before a key surgery, too weak to work, Michele and her daughter facing foreclosure, Michele received a phone call from the surgeon's office. They needed an $800 payment by Monday or the surgery was off.
MICHELE MORINI was literally begging her, begging for my life. There's no other way of putting this. It was begging for my life.
ROBIN ROBERTSMichele's surgery was a success. And now, her cancer is in remission.
With Donna's foundation successfully helping others, Donna had a bigger vision. She envisioned a massive money-raising event. Donna envisioned a marathon.
DONNA DEAGANIt was very symbolic for me. I think that running is an incredible metaphor for going through something like cancer. It's going to be difficult at times, and yet, somehow you push through that. And if you do, and you get yourself to the finish line, there's incredible joy and accomplishment and self-worth that comes from that.
ROBIN ROBERTSThat was 10 years ago. The marathon has grown dramatically. It has raised over $5 million. And her foundation has now helped over 10,000 women.
DONNA DEAGANThere's just been enormous love surrounding all of it. I can feel it. I feel all those angels around me of all the people that I know are rooting for us all.