October 30, 2000
San Francisco, CA

Hello again from Kate and Susan's most excellent home. I don't know how to thank these women enough for letting me stay with them for so long. Kate and Susan, thank you very much for letting me invade your space and take over your lives for so long. Just to let everyone know, I will be returning to my own apartment this weekend. If you would like to send me regular mail, please feel free to send it to me at 1190 Dolores Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. I will be there after Sunday, November 5th.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me an email, regular mail, signed the guest book, called me (even if I'm unable to talk much), stopped by to visit, and flown out to visit. Believe me, it makes all the difference in the world. As most of you know, I love people. And even if I get tired, it means so much to me to feel the love of everyone who has made the effort to reach out to me at this point in my life. I never expected to die young. I expected to die, just not at this age. I have to tell myself out loud that I have cancer. Mostly, because I don't accept it. It's too much to handle right now. It's too much to handle at any point in life. But especially when you're under 30 years old, death is the furthest thing from someone's mind. I mean, I've freaked out on airplanes before, but doesn't everyone when turbulence hits the plane?

The good news is that we don't know when death will happen. An astrocytoma is one of the worst brain tumors a person can have. I found out today that people can actually have worse brain cancers. That thought was not good. The rate of growth for an astrocytoma is from one to four. My cancer is a four and is the most aggressive rate of growth.

I don't think the seriousness of my condition hits me most of the time. One of my doctors told me that they have no idea how long I will live with this tumor, but that it will continue to grow back in my head and eventually kill me. That is unless I get hit by a bus first (as my mother so kindly reminds me). But good things do in fact happen. He told me about a patient he has that had a very different surgery, and is still alive 20 years later. This gives me hope. Along with 400 adoring fans in my email in box! Why didn't we start that earlier? I love hearing from friends, old and new.

Everyday I face the thought that my condition may kill me, and everyday I still get up and face the day. I don't want to be scared of what's going to happen, even though I am. I try to be brave and take care of myself. I'm going to try and do things that will make me happy. When I first came to San Francisco I was so full of life and wanted to do all of the exciting and fun things that were here. I still do. I'm still going to New Zealand. I'm still going to Massachusetts to visit and New York City. I'm still going to Portland and Seattle. I think I'm still going to go surfing and rollerblading. (We'll see about that last one.)

For the most part, I feel pretty good. I had a nasty day on Thursday, October 26th. I was being taken off my prescriptions too fast and had a horrible headache all day long. I woke up at every hour during the night. The next morning, Susan had to take me to meet the head nurse at the hospital. Because I didn't have a fever, I was given more drugs and sent home. I slept for awhile on the couch until I got sick to my stomach. It was not a pretty scene. I then ran a temperature of 101 degrees. I was then returned to the ER. I spent a lot of time in the ER that night. They gave me more drugs through an IV, tested my blood several hours later, and then sent me home again at 2:00 am. Now I am on more prescriptions and feeling a lot better. It's hard to believe that I have this condition when I feel as good as I do. (Meaning, no headaches, etc.)

Today, I spent the day with Cindy Pugh at the hospital having a face mask made for my radiation treatments, CAT scans of my brain, and talking to one of the nurses about my treatment. I also met some very interesting cancer patients who were waiting for radiation treatments. What an inspiration they were. Each person was strong and willing to fight for their lives. How many times do you get to meet a 90-year-old breast-cancer fighter? Or a woman who just gave birth and then discovered that she had a brain tumor as well? None of them could believe that I had just had brain surgery three weeks ago. To them I looked too good. I also checked in with my other doctors as well, so that I felt better about starting my treatments next week. I'll be in and out of the hospital the rest of the week to finish doing the rest of the necessary work for treatment.

So Halloween is coming to the Castro, and I think that is reason enough to celebrate. So I hope that everyone is able to do something special this year for this great holiday. I believe I will be out shopping for a costume tomorrow so that I can blend in better with all of the drag queens of the neighborhood. I hope that everyone is well and that this letter did not ramble on too much. Take care.

Lots of love,

Danielle

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