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Sharing her second chance

Eagle’s Trace resident featured on CNN

Created date

September 24th, 2013

Donna Craig considers the past eight years a gift. After smoking for most of her adult life, Donna knew she was at risk for lung cancer. When the Houston Chronicle ran an ad in 2003 looking for volunteers to participate in a national study, something prompted Donna to reply. I don t normally answer ads in the newspaper, she says. I just felt a nudge. Donna was chosen to participate in the five-year lung cancer screening at MD Anderson Cancer Center, which involved yearly Low-Dose Computed Tomography (CT) scans. The scan came back clear the first and second years of the study, says Donna. But during my third scan, the doctors found a large tumor. I had surgery to remove it, followed by chemotherapy.

100% healthy

At the time of her diagnosis, Donna was making plans to move from her Houston townhouse to Eagle s Trace, an Erickson Living community in West Houston. Eagle s Trace was under construction at the time, and I was planning to move as soon as the community opened in the fall of 2005, says Donna. Even though I was in the midst of chemotherapy, I decided to go forward with the move. Now, eight years later, Donna says she is 100% healthy and enjoying an active lifestyle at Eagle s Trace. There s no place in the world I d rather be, she says. I swim every morning in the indoor pool. I have time to indulge my passion for reading, and I can participate in any type of club that interests me.

Renewed enthusiasm

During her working years, Donna served as president of the American Orchid Society, often traveling around the world to lecture and judge international orchid competitions. Now, she s pursuing other passions with renewed vigor. As soon as her doctors pronounced her cancer-free, Donna began collecting books for the library at Eagle s Trace. Within a year, Donna and her team of library volunteers collected 167 boxes of books donated by residents. Over the years, we ve processed more books than the library can accommodate, says Donna, who continues to serves as chairman of the library committee. We recently stocked the library at our new continuing care neighborhood. Shortly after she moved in, Donna founded the Knowledge Seekers Club, a group that meets monthly to discuss topics ranging from Beethoven s symphonies to the ruins of Pompeii. She s also served on the Resident Advisory Council, the Welcome Committee, and the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Committee. She co-founded the annual Eagle s Trace Earth Day extravaganza. And most recently, she started the Stargazers Club. I ve always been fascinated with space, says Donna. One of my earliest memories is lying on my back in the backyard and looking up at the night sky, thinking, One day we re going to be on the moon.

CNN comes calling

In the fall of 2012, Donna received a call from M.D. Anderson. The news network CNN was preparing a series on cancer treatments, and the doctors who treated Donna recommended her for the segment on lung cancer screening. Trisha Henry, a producer at CNN, called to ask if I would share my story, says Donna. I agreed, and a camera crew came to interview me at Eagle s Trace. Donna s interview aired on CNN on Monday, July 29, during a segment hosted by CNN s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I know how lucky I am, says Donna. I didn t have any symptoms when the scan revealed the tumor. The screening saved my life. I want to make the most of my second chance.