Okay. I know. You mostly come to JHM for the fun & informative stories about movies and theme park attractions. Disney-related news and gossip. Not to read depressing articles about cancer.
But before you head off to some more upbeat & entertaining corner of the Web ... Let me tell you about someone that I used to know: Janet McDonald.
Of course, back when I knew her best, her name was Janet Bardon. She was my cousin. The daughter of Lorna & Ray Bardon. A red-haired beauty, Janet was one of seven brothers and sisters. And -- in order to stand out in that crowd -- she had to develop this quick wit and a sharp tongue. Which is what made Janet so much fun to hang out with at all those Hill / Grant / Bardon family reunions.
Anyway ... Given that she basically had the whole package (I.E. beauty, brains & wit), Janet was ardently pursued by a number of guys. But it was Tom McDonald who finally won her heart. After an eventful courtship, Janet & Tom were then married and soon had three beautiful kids: Chip, Katelyn and Eric.
So -- at the start of the 1990s -- Janet seemed to have it all. She had a handsome husband and a beautiful home. Those three gorgeous kids.
But -- of course -- you don't have anything if you don't have your health. Which is why Janet made a real effort to take care of herself. Watching what she ate, taking vitamins as well as walking five miles every day, rain or shine.
So it seemed like there just was no stopping this beautiful young woman. This loving wife, friend and mother ... Until cancer entered the picture.
Now one of the other things that you need to know about Janet McDonald is that she was a fighter. When she learned about her diagnosis, Janet didn't just go home, climb into bed and pull the covers over her head. No, sir. She immediately fought back.
Which is why Janet went to Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Which is one of the world's best (if not the world's best) melanoma treatment facility. And -- after conferring with physicians there -- Janet agreed to take part in the clinical trial of a new experimental cancer treatment.
You see, Janet ... She wasn't a passive patient. Janet regularly met with her doctors at Dana-Farber. Not just because she hoped that they'd be eventually able to cure her cancer & save her life. But also because Janet firmly believed in what the people in that facility's Immunotherapy Research Department were trying to do.
Which is why -- at a time when most of us would have been moping about, playing the "Oh, poor pitiful me" card -- Janet threw herself into fund-raising efforts for Dana-Farber. She threw parties & collected money. Janet even walked the full length of the Boston Marathon (All 26.2 miles!) in order to raise awareness of what the folks in the Immunotherapy Research Department were doing.
And Janet did all of this while she was still undergoing treatment for her melanoma ... While still taking care of Tom and the kids ... While still trying to comfort her friends and family, letting them know that it was all going to be okay, that she was really going to beat this thing ...
Man, I wish that was how this story actually turned out. That Janet's doctors at Dana-Farber had been able to successfully treat her tumor.
But that's not the way things really went down. After 18 months of fighting, of never giving up, Janet finally lost her heroic struggle with cancer in November of 1995.
And the rest of us ... Her friends, her family ... were left with this huge hole in our lives. Where this bright, beautiful, funny wife, mother & friend used to be.
You can't ever forget someone as special as Janet McDonald. It's just not possible. Which is why -- each year, for 11 eleven years straight now -- Janet's friends and family have all gathered at Avon Baptist Church in Avon, MA. on the first Saturday of April. Where -- after listening to a few motivational speeches -- we go for a walk.
To be precise, we walk the exact same 5-mile route that Janet used to walk every day, rain or shine. To honor her memory as well as raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Immunotherapy Research Department.
Now I know that JHM readers have already proven themselves to be insanely generous (Witness 2004's please-help-me-purchase-this-website-away-from-my-ex-wife fundraiser). But I'm hoping that -- if I ask really nice here -- that I can get you folks to open your wallets again.
Not for me, mind you. And not for this website. But -- rather -- to honor the memory of a wonderful young woman who was taken from us far too soon. And also because I'd really like to kick cancer's ass.
You can learn more about the Janet McDonald Memorial Walk Against Cancer by clicking on this link. And -- if you'll scroll to the very bottom of that webpage -- you'll also find out how you can go about making a donation to this well-deserving charity.
Anyway ... I promise that we'll get back to the light, silly stories here at JHM come Monday morning. But -- for now -- I just wanted to take a moment of your time to talk about my cousin & what a special person she was. With the hope that this article might then compell you to kick in some cash so that the folks at Dana-Farber can eventually give cancer the boot.
Thanks for your time, folks. Have a great weekend, okay?