Jambalaya Jazz fundraiser to aid cancer patient

Juneau's Donna Carroll Noel seeks treatment for Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Posted: Sunday, March 01, 2009

Juneau resident Donna Carroll Noel has struggled with cancer for about 10 years. To aid in the cost of bills, Noel's family and friends will hold a Jambalaya Jazz fundraiser Saturday in her honor.

Noel, 59, has worked for the state in many different positions applying her math skills. Mostly recently, according to longtime friend Brenda Wright, Noel worked in the Tax Division and several sections of commerce, including insurance.

"Donna is interested in many different subjects," Wright said. "She is quite the whiz on the Internet and loves to surf into political questions, snafus, cartoons and opinions of many different cultures. ... Donna has an incredible sense of style. She makes the effort to look her best no matter what."

Wright said the fundraiser will be a big help for Noel, who has no sick leave to use while seeking treatment in Seattle for her Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Due to her condition, Noel was not able to be interviewed for this story. She began treatment in Seattle in January, and will continue treatment until late-May.

"She does have kind friends who have been generous with donated leave, but her insurance cannot cover the cost of living full-time in Seattle for five months," Wright said. "The fundraiser will not only pay the rent but allow her to have a few more comforts to help her through this very difficult time."

Noel was diagnosed in 1998 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer that usually claims a person's life within 10 years. And recently, a new tumor wrapped around one of Noel's kidneys has morphed into a faster-growing cancer. Wright said this caused an immediate response for stronger chemotherapy, calling for five months of differing degrees of treatment; first chemotherapy to kill the fast-growing tumor, then a stem cell transplant.

"Lymphoma is a very cruel type of cancer," Wright said. "It moves throughout the body in the blood and the tumors grow very slowly. ... Donna has had to have multiple years of cancer treatment."

Wright also said Noel most recently had seven months of treatment in Juneau.

"Many of her friends and neighbors never even knew that she was sick," Wright said.

Saturday's fundraiser will feature a Jambalaya dinner prepared by Abby's Kitchen and live music by Fleetstreet.

Other contributions to Noel's cause include a care package from Girl Scout Troop 7 and the Knights of Columbus Council 11757 are donating gross proceeds from St. Paul's Catholic Church February Sunday brunch to the benefit fund.

As of last week, Wright said Noel is recuperating and enjoying regular doses of sunshine.

"She is starting to feel stronger," she said, "so I hope she can talk on the phone to some of the guests during the benefit."

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at 523-2272 or kimberly.andree@juneauempire.com.

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