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…

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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 ❤

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

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