We all know it is Mother’s Day weekend, and I am here to wish all the Moms, new moms, grandmas, aunts and sisters a very happy Mother’s Day! But today I am thrilled to write about a very special young lady who is expecting her first (and miraculous at that!) baby in a few short weeks: Danielle Eichner, a new mommy to be.
It’s all very exciting you see, because Danielle is not the "average" pregnant woman, well, she is, but she has a history of being a childhood cancer survivor. The fact she is pregnant (and very pregnant right now), still tickles and thrills her, along with her husband, Nathan, and their entire family. I’m not sure the "shock" has worn off completely (her assessment), but she and Nathan are completely ready to welcome their baby very soon.
Danielle was almost 12 years old when diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) - T-cell and high risk) on July 19, 1996. All her treatment, including cranial radiation, was at Georgetown University Hospital. Danielle and her family were one out of the four families we met going through treatment at around the same time, and became very close, and still are 20 years later!
Danielle battled her cancer from the ages of 12-15 years of age, and spent most of that time OUT of school, missing her 7th, 8th and 9th grade years. She was thankful to return in the 10th grade, but clicks were formed by then, and she lost connections with her school-mates from middle school; a sobering fact of childhood cancer survivors. Gratefully, Danielle found lasting friendships when she got involved with camp, specifically, Special Love, Inc. The friends and counselors she met there helped fill that void, and she has found true friendships she continues to cherish today. Danielle and Nathan are also ardent volunteers at Camp Fantastic and other events spread throughout the year under the SL umbrella.
It’s amazing that Danielle forged on and graduated from High School in 2002, then went on to pursue her dreams by going to college and earning her undergraduate degree in graphic design at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), and then earning her Masters in Art Therapy at The School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Interestingly, Danielle always enjoyed art, especially working with Tracy’s Kids while undergoing treatment at Georgetown; probably never thinking she would be working for Tracey’s Kids today at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore as an Art Therapist. But by the time Danielle graduated from high school, she was sick of anything related to cancer including thinking of working with sick kids like she was. Fate has other things in store for all of us….Including Danielle.
Danielle always felt that Art Therapy was a way of "letting go", and she loved creating something greater than what was actually going on with her and her treatment. But once she realized that she wanted to connect back to her "roots", and become a bona fide Art Therapist, she found it was the most logical choice for her because Art Therapy allowed her to utilize her degree, and now, work with sick kids she knew at this time she could help and relate to on a daily basis. She actually began her career as an Art Therapist, and built the program in seven years, at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. While living and working in Chicago, her younger sister, Rachel, played "matchmaker" on Rachel’s 21st birthday, and introduced Danielle to Nathan.
It was love and first sight…and the rest is history. They married in 2016 and moved back to the Washington/Baltimore region to pursue their respective careers in Graphic Design (Nathan) and Art Therapy (Danielle). They are now expecting a brand new baby! How-How (h/t - hat tip to Special Love).
This roller derby wanna-be, who, today, loves the color water melon pink (she says she changes her favorite color a lot), grew up in a family of five, two older sisters and a younger brother and sister. Her parents are Tom (an artist himself) and Marilyn (a retired nurse) Eichner!
Lastly, beside the miracle growing inside her, she is inspired by the people who make up Special Love and Camp Fantastic. She remarked that when she became a camp counselor years ago she realized that she had so much to share and give back and learned the duality of being the patient/then counselor and finally acknowledging and accepting her relationship of being a cancer survivor. Now that is truly something to be thankful for and celebrate!
Bsoleille! The bright side of a "miracle" pregnancy and baby to be!