Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Dionne

“Today I am truly blessed and HAPPY to say I made it another year! Woo Hoo!  I beat the odds thanks to the love and support of my incredible Wingman G and all the Earth Angels out there who have kept us in their prayers and continued to support us on our journey.  I am officially 49 and feeling Oh So Fine!” - Dionne Warner, on her Facebook page.   

 Today is the 49th birthday of the most amazing person I have ever met in my life time. Dionne Warner is an eight time cancer survivor, but she is so much more.

I first learned about Dionne’s journey at the YWCA  Women of Distinction Awards night in 2010. I was first stuck by her fabulous earrings and her unmistakable beauty. She was wearing a strappy evening dress. When she got up to speak, I saw the scar that runs up the back of her head.  Somehow it made her more beautiful, more proud.  As she spoke about her journey through cancer, all I could see was her strength and an irrepressible spirit.  We all cried that night.

In 2012, I was to meet her at an event where I was promoting SKY Magazine. Dionne came by and introduced herself, but of course I already knew her name. She was smiling and looking more fabulous than fabulous. I asked her, ‘how do you do it?’ She replied, “I surround myself with only the most positive people.” And then she said jokingly, “You should  do a story about me.”  I replied, “I will someday.”

In May 2014, I sponsored “Just Walk it Off”, a fashion show fundraiser. I was also a model in the show, along with three amazing women who were also cancer survivors, Jodean, Nicki and Leah.  They had never met each other before that day, but when they started to share their stories about their cancers, they could finish each other’s sentences.  I listened in awe, speechless, and humbled by these great women.

That night, Dionne was speaking, telling her story to a room of about 200. As we waited in line for the fashion show to begin, I thought - here’s Dionne, an eight time cancer survivor, and these amazing women, Nicki, Leah and Jodean who give of themselves so that others can hope. I have access to 32,000 homes, I thought.  I wanted to help them share their message.  And so I made a decision that night to dedicate the Summer SKY to their stories.  I asked Dionne to be on the cover, and she gratefully accepted. I called it the Karma Issue, because it truly is and was a labour of love to write their stories.

When the Summer SKY was published and distributed in July, the emails and social media response was incredible. Their stories touched literally thousands of people, all of whom could relate to their stories. Telling their stories gave way to more stories that continue today.  To measure the power of their stories is the measure the depth of hope.  It was as if their words had found their way to the people who needed to hear them, so that they could find the words to share the message of hope to other survivors.

Dionne is more than a woman. More than a cancer survivor. Dionne is a true hero, a warrior and a messenger of hope.

Sometimes people ask me what Dionne does for a living. I tell them, she gives hope, she fights cancer and she lives every moment of every day to the fullest.  Dionne is the epitome of strength, humility and grace.

Dionne changed my life just by allowing me to enter hers and tell her story. To walk alongside Dionne is to help carry her message of hope.  And I happily and gratefully accept it.

Happy birthday Dionne.  

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