Donna Folk experienced a Radical Remission after being diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer and decided to do one round of chemotherapy. While the treatment improved Donna’s health for a time, she was ultimately sent home on hospice care. An avid artist and painting teacher, Donna names many activities as instrumental to successfully overcoming her diagnosis. Primary among these are her use of painting as a therapeutic activity, and the unwavering support of her husband, in addition to an outpouring of support from family and friends.
This is her story in her own words:
I am an Art Instructor, and have my own studio. I kept teaching, even when I had lost all my hair, etc. I find peace in painting, and in showing others that they also can paint. It warms my heart working with adults and children, showing them the magic in creating. I do believe this has helped me a lot…being positive, and around positive people, doing positive things.
I realized I really never had control over things to start with, all things are in God’s control. I just accept. This is why I am here. By the grace of God. I have the attitude of gratitude. When I was almost dead, I had a dream of what was going to happen. It calmed me and made me know that God was with me, no matter what happened. I prayed and had many others pray for me. I had a blessing like it says in the Bible, to gather the Elders and lay hands on and anoint with oil. I let go, surrendered and said, “Thy will be done,” not mine. I was ready to die, in peace. My will to live was more of an acceptance that if God wanted me to live, it would happen; if not, then I would die. I was not afraid; I bowed to His will.
At first I tried to have a lot of control. They were trying different medications on me, different dosages, etc., and I needed to know exactly what and why. It drove my doctors and family nuts, but at the time I needed to try to be in control.
Support from my husband was the most… I was in the hospital 115 days before they sent me home to die. He never left my side; he slept in the room every night with me; he was there all day, every day. When I was the sickest, he crawled into bed with me to hold me. The support he gave me, I never saw or heard of another getting. It was so calming to me to know that he was there. It still brings tears of gratitude to my eyes when I think of how he was with me.
Besides that, I received so many bouquets of flowers I cannot even remember how many, but over 50, from family and friends. We had visitors at the hospital daily, even though we were in a hospital 300 miles away from our home. The support I got was wonderful.
Keeping busy [is good], not thinking about being sick. Even in the hospital I tried to keep busy. The hospital let me bring in my paints, even set up a space where I could paint. Every day the staff, nurses, doctors and housekeepers, etc. would stop in to see what I had painted. It was very hard in the beginning because of being on so many drugs, I could not remember how. But I kept trying and pretty soon I was painting again. I think keeping busy, helping others, being positive all helps.
Editor's Note: As of May 2022, Donna is thriving post-diagnosis.
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