About Danni

I’m Danni and am helping build this site out of my own experiences and research about being well. Since some readers know me in real life, and some readers know me under my pseudonym, I am just using my first name on this site.

I am a dedicated advocate against domestic violence and abuse, especially within the Christian church. Unfortunately, as a direct result of my own experience with domestic violence my health failed in 2000. I had heart problems for several months, which were diagnosed as random PVCs. Not life-threatening, merely alarming.

However, my immune system was seriously compromised as a result of the continuous and on-going stress of my marriage. After being manipulated back into my marriage after a separation during that year I developed chronic problems with UTIs, on top of my increasing migraines – which I attempted to completely ignore and deny to myself. By the latter half of 2001 I got the flu six times in five months. My immune system could not handle anything.

In the middle of all that flu, I got pregnant. This was nothing short of miraculous since I had been unable to conceive for about 10 years, which I always suspected was due to the stress. My pregancy was difficult for the first trimester, since my body threatened to miscarry repeatedly. But once I got past the first trimester everything went well, even though it was harder being pregnant at 38 than it was at 25.

After my daughter was born in 2002 I promptly fell and broke all the bones in my ankle, creating an additional medical situation, and that much more physical stress. I also had UTIs with increasing frequency and was even told at one point that I had a kidney stone – though nothing resulted from that.

During that same period, during the fall of 2003, I discovered a lump in my breast while nursing my daughter. I thought it must surely be a clogged milk duct and decided to watch it for awhile. By spring 2004 I had to admit to myself that the lump was growing and I was getting worried. I had some trouble connecting to the right doctor, but was officially diagnosed with Stage IIB invasive ductal carcinoma on June 3, 2004.

During my recovery from chemo and surgery, it became clear to me for the first time that the verbal abuse I was living with on a daily basis was literally killing me. For almost 20 years I had my eyes only on the physical violence. I thought – and said on numerous occasions – if only he would quit the physical violence (which was directed entirely at the children since I stood up to him about striking me early in our marriage) I could stand the rest. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had spent all those years persistently standing up for the kids (garnering his resultant wrath toward me) – and I ended up being the one whose life was in danger.

Because my system was so weak, I could literally feel the physical affects of every verbal assault. This verbal abuse was also increasing since, for the first time in my marriage, I was physically weaker than my husband. His disrespect, rages, tirades, and lies to others about me behind my back became more intense and pernicious, becoming a constant daily reality. I realized that if I stayed in this marriage I would die.

That is when I made my first choice to be well. I needed to get out for the sake of my life, and for the sake of my daughter’s future. I also hoped the change would help my sons, even though they were nearly grown. But to be able to help my children, I had to live. And that wasn’t going to happen inside my marriage.

Over the years since I have gradually been making more and more “life” decisions. I quit taking Tamoxifen because, for me, the side effects were making me incredibly sick. I gained 40 lbs, developed arthritis in most of my joints, and had profound depression which was unaffected by prescribed anti-depressants. So I quit taking the medication in November 2006.

I started thinking and reading about how to be healthy and worked on rebuilding my own understanding of who I was after 20 years of being squashed into a strange mold. And I gradually got stronger.

In June 2008 I began an elimination diet to determine what things I was eating didn’t work. I first dropped all sodas, fast food, and fried anything – these have stayed on my absolute no-no list. Then I dropped all the whites – refined white flour, sauces/spreads/gravies, regular pastas, even white potatoes. These things I didn’t complete eradicate permanently at that point. I dropped them, saw the great results in my health, but ended up bringing them back in due to sheer budgetary constraints.

I dropped red meat, then other meats, poultry and fish, as I realized through trial and error that each one just didn’t digest for me and was definitely making my health worse. When I tried to eat any of these again after clearing them out of my system, I would immediately experience gastric distress which would last for weeks. As my health improves I may be able to add meat back in; I’m not against the possiblity. I lost about 55 lbs in the last half of 2008 (and have continued to lose since then). But I refuse to diet – a healthy body should find its correct weight without manipulation.

During all this time my research continued. Meanwhile, however, a killer has been lurking undetected. About a year after chemo and surgery (early/mid 2005) I began to develop vision problems in my right eye. It took awhile to move from optometrist to opthalmologist and chase a wrong rabbit trail. However, by late summer 2006, she finally told me there were only a few possiblities left. One was peripheral vision loss as a result of strokes of the optic nerve from migraines (there is a scientific name for that but I can’t remember what it is). Or it could be the result of undiagnosed cancer somewhere else in my body. This is an extremely rare condition and she was sure it was not the problem because it is so rare. My oncologist said the same thing. He said most oncologists can go their entire career and may see that once.

But we scheduled tests for both possibilities. Then my divorce was finalized and the insurance company dumped me. So no tests.

However, since both of the doctors were sure it just couldn’t be due to cancer, I was confident I was fine. All mammograms and ultrasounds came back consistently clear.

During the fall of 2008 I had increasing pain in my chest, but I disregarded it as more of the same post-surgical pain I had since my mastectomy. On Dec. 16 I woke up with my chest hurting, then fell a little while later. So when the pain did not go away, I assumed I had hurt myself when I fell.

Simultaneously, I was in the process of getting into the indigent care system in the county to which I had moved in October. Part of that process was getting into the oncology department for routine follow up. Since I had lymph node involvement with my original diagnosis, they ordered a PET scan.

I was excited to get the results of the PET scan, since 2009 is five years from my original diagnosis. An all-clear at this point would be a good indicator for the future.

Needless to say, I was completely shocked when they told me there was a problem on the PET scan. After a biopsy they told me I had breast cancer in the mammary tissue at the edge of the mastectomy, the rib next to it, the lymph nodes behind my sternum next to the rib, and they think the back side of the sternum bone as well. However, they have been unable to determine whether this is a new cancer or a recurrence, since the hormone receptor status has changed. This makes the difference between a Stage III or Stage IV diagnosis.

I am unwilling to accept a death sentence after all I have done to get well. I am even more adamant about the issue of domestic violence since this killer recurred while I was still in that marriage and it has been merely lurking and working silently this whole time.


For more about this see The Last Curse.

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