Cancer Update: Making Sure “FUN” Exceeds “Not-so-Fun”

People ask me if I attend a support group. “Why, when I have the best support group right here!”

Let’s get the not-so-fun cancer update out of the way:

The last post was fresh out of surgery, which followed chemotherapy.

The surgery results were very positive, with ‘clean margins’, which means they got all of the cancer from this one area, on the right breast.  My cancer is still potentially ‘alive’ in my mammary lymph nodes, left and right, so we need radiation to do its magic on living cancer, as well as clean up dormant cancer in the radiation field.

I started radiation on Thursday, October 2, which will occur every day, Monday through Friday, for 6 ½ weeks so I will finish around November 16th. The radiation field will be larger than what I expected, too, as it will cover my chest and right side out to the other lymph nodes under my arm and up to my collarbone.

I’m already putting on cream to prevent a burning and skin discoloration. I’m a “complex” radiation patient since this is a 2nd pass and we need to avoid my heart, lungs, rib cage, etc. I just learned my heart is close to the center of my chest, which means I’ll need to hold my breast during radiation to separate the heart, preventing damage. Of course I have to be unique…I’m special, right?

I’m in the best hands with my medical family at Virginia Mason Cancer Institute with angels at all levels, from check-in coordinators, nurses, technicians, schedulers and, of course, the best doctors in the country.

Now for the FUN stuff, which exceeds the above not-so-fun

A.  Keynote speaking – telling my story and inspiring donors and participants.

I spoke at the American Cancer Society’s kick-off breakfast on the same day as my LAST day of chemo – great celebration!

Holding Up Hands - 10-10 for October 10 Walk Date

Holding Up Hands – 10-10 for October 10 Walk Date

Strides Kick-Off Breakfast

Strides Kick-Off Breakfast

B. TV!

I was on our local “New Day Northwest” TV just 6 days after my surgery following chemo. See the segment clip here: Friends and some American Cancer Society staff joined the taping and it was a great way to celebrate surgery recovery.

They wanted PINK!

They wanted PINK!

New Day Northwest TV Segment

New Day Northwest TV Segment

C.  Public Service Announcements – for Breast Cancer.

I was asked to record 3 public service announcements for Northwest Cable News on 3 different topics: the NFL Crucial Catch, the October 10th Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, and breast cancer screening.  Let’s see who catches one of these running throughout the month of October.

You can play each one-minute segment here:


A Crucial Catch:


PSAs for NW News Cable

PSAs for NW News Cable

D.  Gilda’s Club Event – Supporting families going through Cancer

Thanks to my friend and committee chair, Tanya Button, I keynoted the breakfast fundraiser for the Gilda’s Club of Seattle on September 24,. Gilda’s Club is named in honor of Gilda Radner, who, when describing the emotional and social support she received when she had cancer, called for such places of participation, education, hope, and friendship to be made available for people with cancer and their families and friends everywhere.

Gilda's Club Fundraiser with Tanya Button

Gilda’s Club Fundraiser with Tanya Button

E.  Party time!

Then, the American Cancer Society (ACS) had a wonderful Gala two weeks after my surgery and I had a great time dancing (gently). I went with Kari Dart and Karin and Paul Allen, too. (No, not THE Paul Allen, but my Paul is just as special!).  It was the first time out in public with my hair “fuzz” as I have not enjoyed the growing-out look.

ACS Gala with my new hair "fuzz"

ACS Gala with my new hair “fuzz”

ACS Gala with Karin and Paul Allen

ACS Gala with Karin and Paul Allen

F.  Sporting events to rally the community.

The Virginia Mason Cancer Institute invited me to be their “Patient Hero” for the Seattle Sounders soccer game on August 16. I got to place the match ball on the podium, high five the players, and then the announcer read a short story about Tracy and I.. Mathis and Kari and Sean Dart were there – and the Sounders won!

DSCN3295 12414-1 DSCN3250

G.  Seattle Seahawks model – for new Pink Merchandise for the NFL’s Crucial Catch.

Last week, I had a blast pretending I was a model. The Seattle Seahawks are launching their new line of PINK Seahawks merchandise and they asked ACS for patient models. Off I went! The campaign is now live and I’ll be in a  different shots.  You can see them rolling out here.

A number of them are used for social media so you’ll see them on Facebook here.

Some samples:

Gwen and Dana

Gwen and Dana

Team Shot

Team Shot

Warm cap and "cool" sweatshirt...all for cancer

Warm cap and “cool” sweatshirt…all for cancer


You can read about the NFL’s Crucial Catch Program here:

I know a lot of people question the interest of the sports teams during this month-of-pink.  And there are some people who can’t stand the color pink for this cause, either. But the bottom line, to me, is that any incremental amount of dollars toward screening, patient support, or research is a wonderful dollar. So deal with the pink! Better yet, wear it proudly. I am.

H.  More sports fun coming up:

  • October 5th Seattle Seahawks Game at home: First, I’ll be interviewed by King 5 at 7am. Then I’ll have radiation at 10:45am, then back to the game to be on the field at half time with other survivors for their “Crucial Catch” game.
  • October 10th, Saturday, the big “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” 5K walk with my family and friends. Join us! Go here to sign up as a participant on “Dana’s Gladiators” team or donate.

Even more fun things – a special focus on family

    • Chad and Shane were here visiting following Shane’s week of hiking through the Cascade mountains. They come back to Seattle 10/9 with Milo and Mom for the big cancer walk, too!
Mom, Chad and Shane_082515

Mom, Chad and Shane_082515

    • I’m planning our wedding celebration for January 2016 and it brings me joy to plan something FABULOUS. Here is a recent photo that our friend, Alison Jensen, a professional photographer, took of us.
Mathis and Dana_090115

Mathis and Dana_090115

  • Mexico ahead! 5 days after radiation finishes, Mathis and I are off to Puerto Vallarta with Ilse (Mom), Shane, Chad, and Milo during Thanksgiving week.
  • January – a wedding party!
  • And I’ll plan more happy milestones after that, of course. Got ideas?

All of our kids and family are doing well…we are so blessed. Mathis’ daughters, Christina and Leslie are thriving and Tracy’s son, Milo, is crushing it down in L.A.

I would just like to express my warmest gratitude for all of your calls, greeting cards, words of support, and invitations to fun things.

Love and hugs,

Dana Manciagli

Cropped_Dana solo_large

Relaxing on 9-1-15 – photo courtesy of Alison Jensen


10 thoughts on “Cancer Update: Making Sure “FUN” Exceeds “Not-so-Fun”

  1. You are an amazing woman who is leading a remarkable life, showing everyone how to overcome all odds with the most vibrant and positive energy.


  2. I am so proud of you and how you have not let your cancer define you. Instead, you have been a true inspiration to all of us that have been following your journey and praying.We are blessed to have someone as special as you in our lives. Carry on my friend…….


  3. Yes, you are special and amazing and all that….but you’ve always been that way so I expect no less, even with the not-so-fun part. If you run out of things to do, come join me on UWMC Team Transplant and train for a half-marathon. Several folks on the team have had transplants and cancer, so you’ll meet some more dynamic people doing dynamic things. We do two half marathon’s a year, the Seattle and the Rock ‘n’ Roll. Folks walk, jog, run, skip and any combination thereof. I am training for my eighth or ninth. We’d love to have you and your friends.

    BTW, I agree that the “enter-your-cause” galas are the best..the dress up, music and passion of the community supporters make these events special. We are getting ready to have the Northwest Kidney Center Gala on 11/14/15 and I am very excited about attending again…of course, I suppose I must since I am on the planning committee. If you need some fun dancing during radiation, come join me at the gala, too.

    You are are a shero.


  4. Dana: NO ONE< ABSOLUTELY NO ONE is as energized and focused on such a wide array of activities IN ADDITION to your own personal treatments. You are and continue to be simply amazing. Treatment protocols sound taxing but the smiles in your photos say it all…. you are beating this C back. Go Gladiator – we are on your team.Hugs from afar — you are always in our thoughts. D&J


  5. Dana–you continue to be amazing. Of course you have been amazing all your life. I watched all the clips with pride. You are accomplishing so much for so many. Keep it up. Sorry we can’t be there on 10/10. We’ll be thinking of you.
    (especially loved the photo of you in the Seahawks hat)


  6. Dana, Reading through your site.. Your simply a amazing person!
    Thank you for your posts of allowing us to follow you through your procedures of going through your treatments. Your courage and bravery through these difficult times is incredible and give so much positive inspiration for everyone!
    We send our love to you from Canada! Miss you since Paris!
    Congrats to Mathis on receiving his award of SAG-AFTRA “GOLD” membership card!!!
    Such a honour indeed!! 🙂 xoxo


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