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LUNG FORCE Heroes

Dawn D.

I am a native of Mississippi but have lived in South Florida for close to 20 years. I am married to John D’Onofrio and we have two children. Isabel is 14 and Jackson is 11. I am passionate about the ALA for many reasons. Sadly, I have seen up close and personal what cancer can do to a family.

On May 3, 2009, my mother, Kaffie Hervey, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Just over a month later on her 68th birthday, June 11, 2009, my mom lost her battle with this horrific disease. It was a devastating blow as she was a vibrant and beautiful person who loved two things more than anything. This would be her family and tennis. Prior to her diagnosis she was playing singles tennis in her age bracket and winning. She had played league tennis for 48 years. She was a wife, a mom, an aunt, a grandmother, a best friend, and our biggest fan in life. Nothing was more important to her than her four grandchildren. Isabel, Abby, Kate, and Jackson were the lights of her life. She could not wait to spend time with them and watch them grow. It was all she wanted to do.

In December, prior to her diagnosis, she began to complain of breathing problems and coughing. She visited her physician many times asking for help. They said she had chronic bronchitis. The symptoms became worse and nothing seemed to help. Much to our shock, after continuing ER visits and eventually hospitalization, we learned the news that it was cancer. Our worst fear had come true. My father, by brother, and I were devastated. Our family was so very close. We watched in horror as her life and body diminished. The worst was that there was nothing we could do. We were helpless. I would not wish it on anyone. My precious mom was gone and her grandchildren would truly miss out on everything she was and everything that she had to give. We felt numb, crushed, and angry that she was stolen from us.

It was in 2018 that my husband and I attended the ALA Sunset Soiree as an invited guest of our dear friend Andrea Eastaugh. I was so inspired by all that I saw and everyone that I met that I decided to join the group and participate on the committee for the 2019 Sunset Soiree in Fort Lauderdale. It was so rewarding to see all that we were able to accomplish. I am honored this year to be Co-chairing the Silent Auction Committee for the 2020 event to be held May 1.

First published: November 20, 2019

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Hero stories are the point of view of the Hero and not necessarily the American Lung Association. The Lung Association does not endorse any specific provider, facility or treatment.

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