Dana E. ‘Grammie’ Kirane
LOWELL Dana Kirane, 64, of Lowell, Ma and Palm Harbor, FL, passed away Thursday afternoon, November 19, 2015 at Lowell General with family and friends by her side. Dana was a beloved mother, Grammie, sister, niece, cousin, friend, and inspiration.
Dana is survived by her son, Joseph W. Kirane III, daughter-in-law, Valeria Kirane, grandson, Ian Kirane, all of Oldsmar, FL, her grandson, Dylen Kirane, of Ocean Springs, MS, her sister, Pamela Connell of Tyngsboro, her feline companion, Mr. Fuego, of Lowell, her uncle, George O’Hare, of Lowell, her cousins, Darragh O’Hare, of Lowell, and Susan O'Hare, of Lowell, her extended family and friends she so dearly loved, as well as the doctors, nurses, aides, counselors she touched and inspired over the years.
Below is an open letter written by Dana two years ago, eight years after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Dana’s open letter to cancer patients, their friends and their families, says more than anyone could possibly say or write about Dana Kirane.
“ My name is Dana, and I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in July 2005. I wasn’t feeling right for about a week before I attended a 4th of July pool party, so I made an appointment with my primary care doctor the next day. They took me right away and sent me for scans. I called a day or two later and was told to come in right away. (That can’t be good, I thought) My doctor came directly to me and knelt down in front of me. (This is definitely not getting better) She told me that I had ovarian cancer. My first thought went to Gilda Radner who had died from that. That’s when it hit me, and I asked, “Am I going to die?” She told me that she would do everything in her power to see that that didn’t happen. All that week was taken up with tests, scans, and other doctor visits. It was decided I would have surgery that upcoming Friday, but then I was bumped by someone who was worse off than me. The next week I went for surgery at Brigham and Women’s and woke up to find that I actually had colon cancer that had spread to my ovaries. I had a hysterectomy and they also cut out the diseased part of the colon. I went home and recuperated, and a few weeks later followed up with my surgeon at Dana Farber. He told me everything went well, now I would have to have chemotherapy. He asked where I was from and when I told him Lowell, he told me there was a fantastic Cancer Center at Lowell General. He asked if I would like to go there instead of commuting back and forth to Boston and I agreed.
I came to Lowell General and met with Dr. Ardman. I brought my sister for moral support because I was scared and confused and didn’t know what to expect. Dr. Ardman explained everything in detail, and answered all the questions we knew to ask. I particularly remember he told us he did not have an ego, and if I wanted another opinion that was fine by him. I could tell he meant it. I remember leaving and thinking I had just struck gold.
My sister and I came to the Infusion Room soon after for my first chemo treatment. I expected it to be dark and depressing and scary, but it was nothing like that. My nurse was Peg, and she was wonderful. I asked if she would explain everything she was doing and she cheerfully agreed. It helps when you take the mystery out of things. All of the doctors, nurses and support staff make it a pleasant experience. I try to sit where I can see and hear things because something is always happening. They can be very funny and make the time go by quickly. I bring puzzle books and my iPod to pass the time. For the last 7 years, I have come to the Infusion room for my chemo infusion, and then I wear it in a battery pack at home for a day and a half. I was still working that first year, and would wear the battery pack at work. Occasionally I would make a soft whirring noise! The second week was my week off, and that’s when I would make plans with friends, shop, and pre-cook meals for my chemo week, and eat all the junk food I could handle! I am about to try a variation of the infusion chemo in a pill form in September. I have high hopes because I think taking them at home will give me a little more freedom and flexibility.
During these 8 years, I have had 3 surgeries because the cancer has reoccurred. My cancer is not curable, but it is manageable. Luckily for me, it appeared in places that could be surgically removed, then followed up with more chemo to take care of anything that might still be left. My chemo treatments usually are for 12 cycles and last 6 months. I’ve had over 100 chemo treatments. When a treatment is over, I get mini vacations and end up as a snow bird in Florida for the winters. My son and his family live there, and my girlfriend got married and moved there too. This year my chemo was scheduled during the winter. I found a very nice oncologist in Florida, and did my chemo there. He and Dr. Ardman coordinated my therapy. I tell you this so you know that you can still do many of the things you enjoy, even with cancer.
I’m not saying that cancer is easy, because it isn’t. In 8 years, I have had a few low periods, but I turn to my family and friends for help during those times. When I feel like it’s too much of a burden for them I can always talk to the social workers who have been very helpful. Gloria has been my nurse for about 7 years now and I feel I can always share my problems and anxieties with her. I’ve been amazed at the kindness I have received from everyone at Lowell General, Mass General, family and friends, and even strangers.
I had a friend, Joanne, call me one day and she told me she had the same cancer as I did. She was receiving treatment at Saints and I was at Lowell General. We would swap stories about our treatment and our lives in general. One day she invited me to the Look Good Feel Better program at Saints. Look Good Feel Better is a night out at the hospital where different cosmetic companies donate all kinds of their cosmetics. There was a cancer survivor there who runs NE Hair Illusions in Tyngsboro. Her store has beautiful scarves, hats, wigs and lingerie, and she showed the five of us who attended how to apply makeup. She showed us ways to enhance our looks and even how to create eyelashes and eyebrows when there weren’t any. We tried on everything in our bags. At one point, I had one green eyelid, and the other was blue, and my lips were painted with gold lipstick, which was surprisingly attractive. All five patients had a wonderful time and spent a lot of time laughing and giggling. When it was over, Joanne said we should go out for a bite. We were still having a good time when I just completely froze. I couldn’t remember if I had wiped off all the makeup. I could have looked like I was out for Halloween. That made us laugh even harder. I noticed a flyer the other day at LGH for another Look Good Feel Better night. It brought back those funny memories and made me smile. I highly recommend attending a Look Good Feel Better night.
A year or two ago, the American Cancer Society ran an ad on television saying they were the sponsor of birthdays and different celebrities would sing the Happy Birthday song. I always stopped to watch it. I felt like they were singing just for me. My original prognosis was 18 months, but this May, I heard the Happy Birthday song for the 8th year since getting cancer. I believe it’s due to the treatment I have received from all the staff at Lowell General who are like my family, and from my good friends, and even strangers. But the people who sing loudest for me are my family who I love dearly and cherish the most.
Happy Birthday Wishes to you all : )
IN KEEPING WITH DANA’S WISHES, CALLING HOURS HAVE BEEN OMITTED AND HER FUNERAL WILL TAKE PLACE PRIVATELY. ARRANGEMENTS BY THE MCDONOUGH FUNERAL HOME, 14 HIGHLAND STREET, LOWELL 978-458-6816. DONATIONS MAY BE MADE IN HER MEMORY TO THE LOWELL GENERAL HOSPITAL CANCER SOCIETY, C/O DEVELOPMENT OFFICE, 295 VARNUM AVE, LOWELL, MA 01854