Monday, January 17, 2022

‘No right to take my hope away’

Donnavon Eaker doesn’t have time for negative people, even if they may consider themselves a friend.

As she fights the battle of her life with non-small cell lung cancer, Eaker, of Ellendale, is quickly finding out whom she wants to be around and whom she doesn’t.

After her diagnosis came out late last year, a friend of Eaker’s reached out to her and implied, “Well, you’re dead.”

It’s not the right thing to leave Eaker or any cancer fighter thinking.

“You have no right to take away my hope,” Eaker said in response to her friend. “I stay away from him. I will not be around negative people.”

Eaker is determined to lick the cancer. And she appears to be well on her way to accomplishing that feat.

Other friends know she is a fighter.

“Donnavon is no stranger to the pain that a cancer diagnosis can bring to anyone, any age, anywhere,” said Tamzen Johnson, a longtime friend who has been helping Eaker with rides to the Mayo Clinic. “She lost the love of her life to this dreaded disease after a courageous battle. Steve was a very strong man.”

Those around Eaker, especially her children, know how she has a lot of fight in her, Johnson said.

Johnson sees how Eaker’s greatest battle is keeping herself from being around negative people. “Her faith, her family and the friends in her community keep her focused and positive,” Johnson said, adding Eaker is thankful for the many ways people have reached out with kindness.

During Eaker’s most recent MRI and blood tests in early February, she came away hearing the best news ever: “The tumor is shrinking.”

Cancer had been discovered in the brain, bones, liver, lymph nodes and a tumor in the lung.

She’s even taking her doctors by surprise.

“They are just overwhelmed at how well I have responded to the treatments,” said Eaker, who has only had three treatments since the start of her journey in early December. “They told me, ‘we are astounded. We can’t believe how well your body has responded,’” she said.

As the doctors shared the good news with her, she kept waiting for the “buts” to come. However, there were no “buts” used by the doctors.

She travels to Mayo Clinic in Rochester every three weeks. “You don’t have a wonderful experience going to Rochester, but it’s better than a bad one,” Eaker said.

Despite the good prognosis, things haven’t exactly been a picnic in the park for Eaker. She is taking steroids, which help alleviate nausea but mess with her sleeping patterns. There are some nights where she can only sleep for three hours, which, of course, lead her to be tired during parts of the day.

Eaker said she feels guilty about doing as well as she has been. She feels like one of the lucky ones.

“I believe my faith is stronger than my fear,” she said. “We will all have our time, but God is not done with me yet.”

She knows many people have been praying for her

“I am feeling very blessed,” she said.

In between the cancer treatments, Eaker keeps busy with bookwork at the award-winning meat market that she and her late husband Steve built for almost 50 years. She admits some days she pushes too much and has to watch herself even closer.

“I just keep plugging away,” Eaker said. “I am staying in my little bubble at home.”

Eaker is adamant that cancer doesn’t need to be a death sentence.

“I’m not ready to give it up,” she says. “I will fight this.”

Eaker’s fight wages on even if it means going in hot pursuit of shedding negative people from her life.



Photo: Donnavon Eaker of Ellendale is fighting non-small cell lung cancer with a vengeance. Doctors recently gave her the best news yet: “The tumor is shrinking.”

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