When you are a barely 40-year old female in otherwise good health, a weeklong headache is a reasonable cause for concern. But like anyone else, after taking appropriate action and receiving a clear CT scan – Danita Raminha felt as though it was safe to assume everything was fine. So only a few months later, in April of last year, she couldn’t formulate an explanation for why her vision was blurring. Danita was working a fundraiser at the Elks Lodge in Atascadero and participating in a fashion show. She had ordered a round of drinks but began blanking out and experiencing blurred vision. Unsure of what was going on or what to do, she decided to step outside. When she didn’t return and it was getting close to her part in the fashion show, others began to inquire about her whereabouts. Her boss went looking for her and ended up discovering Danita facedown on the of side El Camino Real. Paramedics arrived without knowing what had took place, but it would later be revealed through an MRI that while walking down the road, a golf ball-sized tumor in the frontal lobe of Danita’s brain burst that night and she had a grand mal seizure. She was taken to Twin Cities Hospital but was quickly transferred to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo. Doctors performed a craniotomy and prescribed six weeks of radiation as well as one year of chemotherapy. Unfortunately though, after just three weeks it was discovered that Danita is one out of every five people that are allergic to chemotherapy and things started to get worse instead of better.
Her family was in shock; Danita’s world was turned upside down. She was not allowed to drive a vehicle for over six months. Some of the residual effects of her allergy to chemotherapy led to the bone marrow in her body collapsing and severe chest pains, her red and white blood cells diminished, her platelets continued to lower creating an inability for her blood to clot. Ultimately, all of her blood vessels burst and she began to develop Leukemia. She ended up receiving care at the University of California, San Francisco. At one point, Danita was told by one of her doctors: “If there’s anything you want to do, you need to do it.” She said her immediate response to that was, “I’m good. I’ve lived a good life, done what I want to do, and there is nothing I need to squeeze in. Plus, I’m not going anywhere.” She was given a 50% chance of being alive in two years and told her doctors, “Great! See you in two years.” She shared with us that to her, 50% are good odds: “I’ll take it!”
“It is intrinsic for me to be this way,” Danita says in response to her obvious strength and tenacity. Her family has always looked to her for strength, which was probably why they so quickly rallied together in her battle. Danita’s parents and in-laws were a huge help to her, she said her husband Jeff stepped up in so many ways and when her son began to struggle at school – the administration and teachers were all supportive. As a faith based family and woman of God, Danita was never afraid to die. “My belief in God as our Savior carried me through this tough time.” She said that she looked at her experience as a pit stop or freeway exit, “but I always knew I was getting back on.”
From a physical perspective, Danita says that fitness might be the #1 thing that got her through the battle. “It is so important to be strong: physically and mentally.” Currently, the oncologist classifies her as “cancer free” and that is sufficient enough for her. “I’m good today. I can’t control tomorrow.” Danita joined GIVE Fitness in September of last year just five months after her tumor burst. “I need this. I need to run, to exercise and be strong. It’s a release for me.” We are sharing her story now because this upcoming weekend, Danita is participating in the BT5K: American Brain Tumor Association Breakthrough for Brain Tumors 5k Run & Walk. She is the captain of her team: The Central Coast Tough Cookies. She said, “This 5k is everyone that held my hand through this battle. It’s a celebration and I want to raise money to increase awareness and promote a healthy lifestyle.” We see Danita in the gym on a regular basis, we were inspired by her story and wanted to support her efforts! By visiting her team page, we contributed $250 toward the fundraising efforts. If you would like to do the same, any amount is of course welcomed and the link is available here.
If nothing else though, join us in congratulating Danita for her fighting spirit and victory over a terrible disease! She certainly is a tough cookie and worthy of celebration! Good luck this weekend and we’re wishing you continued health!