Thanksgiving 2010_956As we say goodbye to another Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I encourage all moms, daughters, grandmothers and aunts not to neglect any aspect of your health as you scurry from one responsibility to the next or one destination to another. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I’ve included yearly mammograms as part of my routine check-ups for many years, and honestly, cringe in fear until the results are revealed.

So, when I learned of my fellow Disney Mom, Dannee, and her diagnosis – I felt as though she had taken a bullet for me. I was in such angst knowing that she would have to endure what my mother had experienced, and I was burdened with such guilt thinking that it should’ve been me. After all, Dannee is a wife, mother and a physician – there were so many people depending on her for much more serious issues in life. Yet, she has handled this trial with her consistent and infectious optimism, and she draws her strength from her family, her friends, her faith and something we share in common….her “happy place.” Enjoy reading her story!

A Disney Trip to Heal: My Best Therapy after Chemotherapy
By Dannee Neal, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist and Guest Blogger

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is my favorite vacation destination, and it has also become my favorite place for relaxation and recuperation.  I know it may be hard for some to imagine travel to Walt Disney World without planned meals, planned Park days or planned Resort hotel time.  I know I would have never imagined a travel to my “happy place” to be so simple.  After all, I am the “planner” of my family and friends.  But, I am here to tell you that the thought of my travel to Walt Disney World at the completion of my chemotherapy strengthened my spirit to complete that phase of my treatment.  In addition, the thought of a “simple” trip with my family to our “home away from home” was inspirational.  

Dannee enjoying a little “Disney Therapy!”At first I thought to cancel the trip all together.  However, that thought brought tears to my eyes and sadness to my heart.  I knew that this trip would be symbolic of a step forward in my treatment, and I needed my “happy place”.  While I was having the crazy cancellation thoughts, my family never even considered that we would not travel to Walt Disney World.  To them, it was expected that we would have a great time – as planned.  Yet, when my family realized that I did not have a schedule of Park days or dining reservations, they went into shock.  We did not have a plan other than our Resort hotel reservation.  Then my husband stepped right in and said that this was “Mommy’s Happy Trip” and that we were doing whatever I wanted to do.  He reminded them that I always planned and had surprises for them each visit to Walt Disney World, and this was their turn to surprise me.  My heart melted.

We mostly enjoyed our Resort hotel and each other.  While at the Parks, I noticed how much seating is available to take a break and people watch.  We came and left the Parks when I was tired,  and no one complained.  We ate when we were hungry and snacked when something smelled delicious.  They allowed me to soak up the Florida sun at our Resort hotel pool as much as I wanted, and I got to choose which Quick Service Meals we ate when we were ready to eat.  My family let me sleep in, and they enjoyed the Resort hotel while I rested when I needed to rest.  Yet, the very best surprise of all was that they brought me Cotton Candy and the Caramel Apple that I love.  We were able to watch the fireworks from our Resort hotel and have a movie night in our guest room!  They were constantly thinking of me and my needs.  It helped me to realize that I often planned for others because I knew that I would enjoy myself – we would be at Walt Disney World.   Although I must admit, it was very nice to not have a plan and let my family take care of our Disney Vacation.

My family was so excited to see me up and about with a huge smile on my face.  They knew that this trip was exactly what I needed before my next phase of treatment, and they were absolutely right.  It was the most peaceful and easy going trip to Walt Disney World we have ever had.  I would recommend that anyone needing revitalization from a bump in the road that we call life, travel to Walt Disney World and let the Magical Wishes and Pixie Dust complement your journey to a healthy recovery.

Top photo: Andi and Dannee – October 2010 at California Grill at the Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World