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Mom with Impact: Donna Penny

As moms, we desire to protect our children from pain. We want to shield them from harm that would diminish their sense of hope and excitement for the future. When our ability to protect them is threatened, the level of loss we feel overwhelms us, stirring up feelings of inadequacy and guilt. Donna Penny knows these feelings all too well.

Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time at 35 years old. After a double mastectomy, this wife and mother thought she had beat cancer only to be diagnosed again 5 years later, in 2013. This time the cancer had spread to other parts of her body and was now terminal. Given only 2 years to live, Donna is past what she calls her ‘expiry date’ and refuses to allow cancer to take away her passion for life. She opened a hair salon with her friends. Donna continues to live life to the fullest.

Faced with the challenge of sharing her diagnosis with her son Kai, Donna searched for books to help him understand what was happening to mummy. After finding few resources, Donna decided to write her own story to help other families cope with cancer. Fighting to live, Donna is one of the most courageous and tenacious women we have met. CEOMOM Magazine is excited to share her story in hopes to inspire other moms diagnosed with cancer to fight to live.

Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Donna. Read the full interview in our January 2017 issue. Click here to get your subscribe today.

We know you wrote, Why My Mummy? to explain terminal cancer to your beautiful son, Kai. Describe how writing the book has been therapeutic for you.
I wrote Why My Mummy? to give hope and ease the pain of talking to your children not only about cancer, but also a terminal diagnosis. I tried so hard to find a book that Kai could relate to, but I had no luck, the books were all doom and gloom. We are very open at home when talking about my cancer as kids are so smart and they can feel when something is not right. Writing Why My Mummy? has been very emotional and real. This is why I decided to use the family photos we had taken just before I was to start chemo for the 3rd time, and my hair was to fall out. It brings the book to life having a real family and seeing our lives in print. Writing this book has made my cancer story a little easier, knowing that hopefully our story will help other people when talking about cancer. The book can be read by anyone, not just a cancer family. I believe it can put things in perspective for some families.


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