Race for the Cure 2013 – Amy’s Walking Angels

20 05 2013

What counts is that we’re together in this, and we’re in this together!

These were Amy’s words from her Race for the Cure post in 2011. How right she was! The tradition of Amy’s Walking Angels continues as we united together as one last Saturday to walk in honor of our Amyazing Angel Amy! Thank you Mollie Finch for organizing and bringing us all together each year! It was the perfect day for a 5k walk and it gave us all time to reminisce about Amy. How she loved life, loved people, loved writing, loved family time, loved animals, loved talking, loved being goofy, loved laughing,  loved, loved, loved…

???????????????????  ???????????????????  mollieMollie, Greg and Kara

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2013-05-18 08.48.54-1-1  ???????????????????  ???????????????????  ???????????????????  ???????????????????  ???????????????????  group pic

Amy Lange – Fox 2 News Remembers our Angel Amy

15 05 2013

When the news of actress Angelina Jolie aired yesterday, it was only a matter of minutes before our own local news favorite Amy Lange, with Fox 2 News contacted us.  Although it’s been 2 years since Amy interviewed our Amy, she hasn’t stopped thinking about her and admired her heroic and courageous fight against cancer.  Amy Lange met with Don yesterday who shared his heart-felt loss of his wife and mother of his son.  Our AMYAZING AMY would be so proud that her story continues to be heard and is still helping to spread the word of early detection and prevention for breast cancer.  THANK YOU Amy Lange for including and remembering our angel Amy in your story.  She is deeply missed and will never be forgotten.

 Please watch the link below to see the news story that Amy Lange did and to see and hear our AMYAZING Amy in the video. 

A courageous decision by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie is a serious reality for so many people right here in our community – and it’s no guarantee…

2 metro Detroit women made same decision as Jolie to cut cancer risk

TROY, Mich. (WJBK) -One of Hollywood’s biggest stars told the world Tuesday about her decision to  undergo a double mastectomy. Angelina Jolie said she did it to cut her risk of  breast cancer, and she is not alone. Two local women made a similar  choice.
Anita Fabian is a mother of three who had a double mastectomy and  her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed after genetic testing showed she is  predisposed to breast and ovarian cancer.
“My mom had cancer when I was  13, and she died when I just turned 25,” Fabian explained. “I didn’t want my  babies to be without a mom.”
The genetic testing and double mastectomy  are the same procedure Jolie just revealed she underwent to prevent the  possibility of getting the same cancer that killed her mother.
“Genetic  counseling is extremely important because these are complicated decisions,” said  Beaumont oncologist Dr. Dana Zakalik.
The doctor said those with early  onset breast or ovarian cancer or a family history should be tested. If positive  for the BRCA gene mutation, a 60 to 85 percent chance of getting breast cancer  can be reduced to around five to eight percent.
“If you do bilateral  mastectomies, if you choose to do that, that you really are doing the most that  you can possibly do to reduce your risk of breast cancer,” Zakalik  said.
But a preventive mastectomy is no guarantee the cancer will be  prevented as I learned two years ago when I did a story with a local wife and  mother who fought so courageously, but still couldn’t win.
“We did  everything humanly possible, and I still lost my wife,” said Don Neilson. “We  were aggressive as humanly possible, and I still lost her.”
He lost his  wife, Amy, just one year ago. She beat breast cancer once. A carrier of the BRCA  gene, she had both breasts removed along with her ovaries and fallopian tubes  trying to steer clear of the cancer that had killed her mother and  grandmother.
“The sad thing is… they told me after this surgery she had  two percent chance of getting it back,” Neilson said.
They thought she  was home free, then she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She fought  valiantly, blogged about her battle, and told her story to help  others.
“Just be aware that it’s never a hundred percent,” she told Fox 2  before her death.
Still, Dr. Zakalik said what happened to Amy is very  rare. So know your family history.  The genetic testing and the  preventative measures can be the difference between life and death.
“I’d  rather live and see my babies get married and have grand kids versus what my mom  did,” Fabain said.Read more: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/22252710/2-metro-detroit-women-made-same-decison-as-jolie-to-cut-cancer-risk#ixzz2TPZ52wDO

For my son Theo…

6 05 2013

Some private thoughts from Don to his son Theo.  Written from the heart at that moment in time.


You are sound asleep next to me and your mother is asleep in the hospital bed beside us. This weekend was a bit hard. Mom slept a lot and I tried my best to keep you entertained. We played Sky landers so much we went through one set of batteries on the porthole base. It must be hard for you to see mom this way and not fully understand what is going on. It is hard for me and I do. I’m so sorry for my short temper; I try so hard not to be that way with you. Mom is slowly getting sicker and it is taking more of me to take care for her. It is not fair to you. You can’t do the things with your Mommy like you used to and you can’t hang with me because I’m taking care of your Mother. Life is very unfair and for that I am truly sorry Theo.


Today was a rough day for me Theo. Your Mommy had a rough day as well. I picked you up from school and as soon as we pulled in the driveway a nurse was right behind us. I’m sorry there are so many people in and out of our house right now. We watched Gnomeo and Juliette and had some laughs with Mom. Then I needed to give Mom her night meds and you just looked at me as I was giving them to her as if you were sad that we had to go through this as a family. I am too Buddy. The best part of the day is when just before you drifted off to sleep you rolled over put your arms around me and said, “I Love You Daddy.” Well I Love you.


Today was your last game of your first soccer season and the first time you played goalie. The game was a tie, and a good one! But at the end as you got your treat bag I could not help to think how would it of been if your mom was still here. A little more cheering, a little more go Theo! I know she was watching from the heavens cheering and smiling down on you. If for some reason I did not tell you enough, I love you.


It is almost a year since your Mom went to Heaven. The time has gone so quickly and you are growing up so fast. I hope I give you just the right amount of soft comfort on stern discipline. You are doing so well in school and hockey! You just starter this past winter and you are now “hockey stopping” and skating backwards. It is 1:33 am and you are fast asleep in my bed. You get so happy when I say you can sleep in my bed with me. You lay your head on my chest and say, “You are the best Daddy a Theo could ever have.” And I say, “You are the best Theo a Daddy could ever have.” I can only hope you always feel this way. As I lay here next to you I can’t help but think what our life was a year ago. I look back and have no idea how I was getting through the up every two hours to give your mother some kind of medication, take you to school, feed the both of you and try to take care of the house. We had a lot of great people helping us but it was still very hard. And most of the time in the last few days I would just lay there and listen to every breath, hoping it wasn’t her last, hoping for one more day but at the same time praying for her peace.  I wanted so much to take away her pain, her fear, but I couldn’t. Now I want to take all your pain and fears away and sometimes I think I can. But then some nights as I’m putting you to bed I see the pain in your eyes, the small pools at the bottom of your eyelids. You look at me and I can see it on your face that you wish it was Mommy there beside you. I ask what are you thing and you shake your head and simply say, “Nothing Daddy, I love you.” And roll over and fall asleep. I will love you with no end my son.

amy-race-for-the-cure-5-26-12-027  don and theo jetski  Don teaching Theo how to ride a bike, September 13, 2010. Photo by Amy Rauch Neilson.

Until We Meet Again…with love from Tabitha

6 05 2013

One year…..

This past year has been trying. We’ve all looked for a “sign”, something, ANYTHING. We’ve NEEDED reassurance that today was a bad day but it won’t last…Tomorrow is another day, right?  We’ve learned so many, many things this past year. Never take anything or anybody for granted. We’re never promised tomorrow…..

Many nights as I lie staring at the ceiling I visualize you walking through the door, “HELLOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”. (I miss that voice so very, very much) I see you cooking up a storm in my kitchen, working on Theo’s science project, baking cookies, making a bra, planting flowers, cutting that HUGE pumpkin, swimming in the lake, sledding, going for an ice cream, going on that first and last boat ride of the season, cutting down the massive Christmas tree, the list goes on and on. You never ceased to amaze me. Many times it seemed as though you were everywhere at the same time.

What I always saw the most in those deep, beautiful eyes was the doubt, the fear, the love of a mother. Always afraid of never doing enough, never being enough. Afraid that you may not be here the next year or when Theo graduates. You were so much more. In the small amount of time that you graced this earth, you did more than most people did in a lifetime. Most importantly, you were the best mother, wife, daughter, friend, cousin, sister and aunt that I’ve ever witnessed. We won’t forget that, ever. You’ll be there the day Theo graduates. You’ll also be there the day he decides to marry. Memories fade but you sweetheart are so much more. You’re a never-ending presence.

You’re here. We’ve all seen it. We’ve all had our “signs”. Oddly enough, last summer I had a Cardinal on my telephone line ALL summer long. He swooped down while Lauren and I were in the pool. She had to duck! We just grinned at one another. We knew. Hello to you too, we miss you terribly……

There are so many positive memories/thoughts to write but most importantly, Theo continues to be such a wonderful, loving young man. I know you’re proud. Don has truly made sure that every move he’s made, your lil’ man came first. The first question in all of our thoughts as a parents is, “How would this affect our child?” Well, he hasn’t had to say it to me, nor has he, but Don asks himself, “What would Amy do, what would Amy want?” It’s guided him in the right direction every time.

The love and friendship that you conveyed through the years unto all of us has left us needing more. Would forever have been enough? No, I really don’t think in would’ve been.

Through you, your life, I’ve been so very blessed to witness the most awesome love and strength. I’ve also witnessed as much in your death. The 4th of July party, Theo’s birthday party, the breast cancer walk. People continue to show the love that you showered upon anyone within your presence.

As much as I would love to say this year has been great, everything is fine, we’ve all learned to adjust…..I’m hesitant. We have however learned that we can carry your heart, who you were, through our own actions. Do unto others…….

I spoke with Theo just the other day at the tea party. I explained to him that he will ALWAYS have a mother. As long as he keeps you in his heart, he will ALWAYS have a mother…..He gave me that sheepish lil’ grin, cocked his head and nodded as if he were saying, “I know.”

We’ve all struggled this year. We’ve lost ourselves and begged for help understanding how or why? Your love, strength and guidance will continue our healing. We love you and miss you more than these few lines could ever convey. Please continue to be the guardian angel that so many of us need.  Be the wind beneath our wings, the sun that continues to shine and a love that never dies. Until we meet again my love……..Tabitha <3

Theo and Tabitha 5-2013  Tabitha and Theo at the tea party, May 2013

We Remember

6 05 2013

There are no words to express how much Amy is missed.  Each of us grieve in our own ways but we are one when it comes to missing her and wishing just one more time to hear her adorable chuckle, laugh at her silly sense of humor and to read her uplifting and incredible words.  Amy loved more than anything to be with people, share her stories with others and listened with a kind and loving heart.  Her adorable son Theodore was her world and she loved being a wife to Don.  While each of us will take a moment today to reflect on what Amy meant in our own lives, her passion for life and living it to the fullest keeps many of going forward each and every day.

Our dear sweet angel Amy, we remember…

AMY TINA RAUCH NEILSON  11/29/68 – 5/6/12

amy-hawaian-pic    flowers  flowers2   family pic 5  cardinal

live laugh love

Created by Don and great reminder of what Amy would want all of us to do :)

LIVE every moment, LAUGH every day and LOVE beyond words!

stairway to heaven

If I could visit heaven
even for a day
Maybe for a moment
my pain would go away
I’d put my arms around you
and whisper words so true
That living life without you
sure is hell to do
No matter how I spend my days
no matter what I do
No morning dawns or evening falls
When I don’t think of you.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.



28 04 2013

Many have asked and I know many are wondering, “How are Don and Theo doing”?

Well, Theo is one AMYAZING little boy and Amy’s laughter and love of life, continue to shine through him.  Starting with his 7th birthday last August, Theo, Don and the crazy clown had a ball making everyone laugh.  The summer fun continued with playing outside and going to watch a Tigers baseball game (which was one of Amy’s favorite sports to watch).  Don and Theo sure made Halloween a hoot!  Theo was Mario and Don was Luigi…what a team they made and double the candy too!  They continued the family tradition of cutting down their Christmas tree and Theo delighted in opening his gifts.  Theo is also a hard worker!  He has a “job” at the pet store on Saturday’s and loves taking care of all the animals.  His animal knowledge is incredible and yes, he still loves the frogs that he and Amy learned so much about and had several of them at home to take care of.  Theo has also been a huge help around the house and “working” with Don.  He even learned how to sand drywall!  But it wasn’t all work and no play.  Theo has a blast riding his 4 wheeler and going to the Monster Truck show.  He’s also doing excellent in 2nd grade!  He loves reading to his cousin Brody and created an incredible science project which he delighted in showing his experiment to family and friends.  Theo’s also learned to master the sport of ice skating and is now playing on a hockey team which he absolutely loves.  He’s a mite and is #99!  Enjoy the pictures below and know that Amy’s bright smile and spirit are with Theo everywhere he goes.

theo's 7th birthday  theo and kara 7-2012  theo tigers gaem 5-2012

theo don halloween 2012  Theo tree 2012 theo christmas 2012

theo pet store worker 10-2012  theo hard working 5-2012  theo drywalling 4-2013

theo 4 wheeler   theo monster jam theo and cousin brody 2-2013      THEO SCIENCE PROJECT

theo ice skating    theo ice skating 2   #99 Theodorable!!!!!


22 03 2013
Amy’s Walking Angels
Walking in LOVING Memory of our ANGEL AMY! <3
Molly's 30th bday party 08062011 013

Please join us on May 18, 2013 for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure as we walk in memory of our dear Amy. I know I speak on behalf of so many when I say how much she is missed each and everyday. She was an inspiration to us all, so let’s join together and inspire others to help find a cure for breast cancer. Let’s help make a difference so no one else has to lose a wife, mother, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, daughter, or dear friend like we all did when we lost our Amy less then a year ago. Together let’s make our Amy proud as I know she will be there in spirit leading HER TEAM! If you are unable to walk please make a much appreciated donation for this amazing cause in Amy’s memory. I know together, AMY’S WALKING ANGELS will make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.     In Loving Memory of: Amy Tina Rauch Neilson                 Your Team Captain, Mollie Finch     molliefinch81@yahoo.com




Click on the link above to donate or join Amy’s Walking Angels – Race for the Cure 2013. This year the Race for the Cure is on Saturday, May 18 at 8:00am at Comerica Park. It is such an amazing and uplifting event and Mollie would like to get as many people as possible to join our team and show their love & support in memory of our dear sweet Amy.  Mollie started this team back in 2006 when Amy was first diagnosed and has done it every year since.  When you register for this event make sure you go to Team Member Registration and choose Amy’s Walking Angels.


Every 74 seconds a woman dies of breast cancer. We won’t rest until breast cancer is a history lesson, not a current event. 75% of the net income from our Race stays in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to fund breast cancer screening, treatment support and education programs; the remaining 25% supports the Komen Award and Research Grant Program.


25 12 2012

HO, HO, HO… MERRY CHRISTMAS!  You know how much I love this time of year and although I can’t be with you in body, I am with you in spirit and love.  God had a bigger plan for me and while I miss you all so much, I want more than anything for you to be happy and carry on your family traditions as I know Don and Theo have.  They cut down the family Christmas tree and displayed my favorite nativity scene.  Don is an AMYAZING dad and I told God thank you for helping me find such a wonderful man to raise our THEODORABLE!

Theo 2012

Theo 2012

christmas dec 2012

While I know their hearts were heavy last week, I beamed with joy to reunite with my beloved Cody.  He brought me so much love and licked me with kisses that I have missed so much.

Cody - met me in Heaven 12-15-12

Cody – met me in Heaven 12-15-12

I hope you all enjoyed the small dose of snow last week.  I plan to talk to God about sending more.  Last year we weren’t able to build our sledhill on the lake but this year, I’m gonna make it happen for Theo!  In January 2011 I rolled down the hill 37 times in one day!  With thrills, shrieks and laughter heard from one end of the lake to the other, we had a fabulous time.

Sledding 1-2011

Remember today is Jesus’s birthday and we are all celebrating up here.  I’m showing them a thing or two about how to P A R T Y  Amy style! WHOHOO!!  I hope you enjoy this video.  We need to remember what today is all about.


Enjoy your family and friends and cherish each moment together.  While it may seem we are far apart, I’m really right there in your heart.

Merry Christmas to all! 

I love and miss you so much but I know one day we will be together.  Until then, look for signs from me.  I’m always near.

Love, your Angel Amy

cardinal snow

Amy wrote this in her December 2011 blog last year and it’s well worth posting again:

I do believe God has a plan for me and will continue to use me and my diagnosis to help fulfill that plan. God never promised us that the road would be easy. He only promised that He would be there beside us, every step of the way.

Whatever road you’re traveling right now — be it bumpy or silky smooth — the wish and prayer from my family to yours is that you feel His presence, know without a doubt that He is right there beside you, and that you allow His light to shine through you everywhere you go. As my childhood pastor, Reverend Bill Ritter at Nardin Park United Methodist Church used to say, don’t hide your light under a bushel basket, but take it to the mountain top so that it may shine for all to see.

Happy 44th Birthday Amy

29 11 2012

November 29, 2012 – Amy’s 44th Birthday!

As most of you know, Amy LOVED her birthday and she LOVED sharing her day with as many as possible.

Not only did she love being the center of attention that day, she would start on November 1st and tell everyone that, “it’s my birthday in 28 days”!  And the count down would continue each day until her special day.  But she deserved it.  Amy also made sure that when it was someone else’s birthday, she would send a card, email, text or call.  She’d even sing to you if you’d listen.  And of course you would; she delighted in making others smile and laugh.  I know all of us would do anything to see her smile and laugh, especially today as we celebrate Amy’s 44th birthday and share memories of her AMYAZING personality.

Amy’s 15th Birthday – 11/29/1983


Amy’s 40th Birthday – 11/29/2008

Amy, Don and Theo – 11/29/2008

Happy 40th Amy!

Happy Birthday in Heaven

On the day we celebrate your birthday on earth, we thank God for you were born.

Today, we miss you terribly. We grieve in the presence of friends and family who cherished you. We celebrate your life, even in death.

On these commemorative events when you should be here with us, allowing us to give you birthday presents, we miss you even more.

Below is a picture of Amy sending off a lantern last year for her 43rd birthday.  It’s heart breaking to know that was her last birthday here with us but to honor her birthday this year and extend our love up to her in Heaven, tonight we will be sending Amy 44 lanterns.  Happy Birthday Amy!  You are missed more than you could ever imagine.  And if we had just 1 birthday wish, it would be a stairway that reached up to Heaven so we could bring you home.

We love and miss you Amy!  Happy Birthday!

Amy sending off a pink lantern for her 43rd birthday! 11-29-11

Today is my birthday
Celebrate my life with you

And remember the good times
Not the bad and
Do not be sad;
Look up towards the sun
And catch every ray of light
Upon your cheek.
For I am there with you.

Today is my birthday
Be happy for me
I lived short, but full
I had the pleasure of love
And the joy of my family.
Do not be sad
Look up towards the stars
And catch each twinkle
In your heart.
For I am there with you

Today is my birthday
My legacy is not wealth
Or mighty belongings,
My legacy is you and your life.
Spend it wisely and carefully
Guard it always
Do not be sad
Feel the wind on
your face
And in your hair
And know that I loved you
For I am there
with you in your laughter
And in your hearts.

Today is my birthday
Learn to live again without me,
Take my strength with you
For you are not alone.
Do not be sad
Feel the rain on your face
Feel all life’s treasures and
Know that you are alive!
At each step of the way
I will help you
For I am with you always
Until we meet again.

is my birthday…

AMY…Definitely Not Forgotten !

23 09 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012, Amy was honored at two AMYAZING events.

The first one was at The Pink Fund’s 2nd annual luncheon at the Henry in Dearborn, MI.  Molly MacDonald, CEO of The Pink Fund honored Amy’s life and presented Amy’s husband Don with a beautiful pink vase with yellow (Amy’s favorite color) around the top edge.  Amy Youngblood, who was inspired by Amy to write, spoke about how Amy touched so many lives.  Amy’s sisters, nieces and a few special friends were in attendance to share in this special moment.

(click on picture to enlarge it)


To end the night, Bras for a Cause in Royal Oak, MI remembered Amy.  Her name was featured with Shannon Watson’s on the marquee outside the Royal Oak Music Theatre as well as her beautiful picture on the big screen before the show.  Amy Lange from Fox 2 News was the host for the night and she too honored Amy by sharing her words with us.  A memory page in the program had a picture of Amy, Don and Theo with a brief narrative on Amy written by Patti Ball and Michelle Wolford Ball.  Michelle was also on the planning committee as Media Relations and is a long time friend of Amy’s.   A beautiful hand-made bra was created in memory of Amy by Amy’s niece Danielle Neilson titled “Sunshine and Crazy Days” and modeled by Lisa Roggin, a dear friend of Amy’s and also a 5 year breast cancer survivor.  Don, family members and special friends were there for this uplifting experience.  Don was also the winner of a live speed painting of Kid Rock by Dave Santia.  Kid Rock was one of Amy’s favorite singers and Don’s face was priceless when he won.  The painting will hang in their family room where Don and Amy spent their last few months together.


While these are just two special events that stand out, I know that many of you see signs of Amy every day.  And although she is gone, she is definitely NOT forgotten.

Amy…your life was a blessing, your memory a treasure.  You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure.


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