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Going from leukemia to street ministry

Doing things her own way without considering the consequences had been a lifestyle choice for Manteca’s Donna Anaya-Aragon.  

For many years, she lived her life in overdrive, full of chaos and rebellion, certain that her way was the right way until one day she started sensing that something was missing.  Donna knew she needed a change and thought she found it when she tapped into her faith for a year or so.  It wasn’t too long however before the temptation of her old self-serving ways drew her back to the familiar, chaotic lifestyle she had been living.  It took four more years, many hardships and a shocking wakeup call of being diagnosed with a chronic form of Leukemia before Donna realized she needed more than just tapping into faith; she needed an all out committed relationship with God.

Finding herself in a hospital bed waiting on medical coverage after being fired from her job at an insurance company once it was known she had Leukemia, Donna had a great deal of time to reflect on her life and the various choices she had made.  With the grim report of Leukemia hanging over her, Donna turned to God in prayer and with the deepest sincerity asked Him for help and He answered. “God gave me my life back” says Donna.

Under the care of her Doctor, Donna was given a new drug known to successfully aid in keeping Leukemia in remission called Gleevec.  The pill made by Swiss drug company Novartis, targets an enzyme called BCR-ABL that leukemia cells use to reproduce. The drug attaches to the cancerous cells and stops them from growing and spreading.  Though her Doctor prescribed the medicine and it is working, Donna knows the real credit belongs to God.

In her book, “My Second Chance “published by Xulon Press, Donna details her story of how she started out, where she’s ended up and what God did to change her life around. The change was not only in regards to Leukemia but everything in Donna’s life.  

“God gave me what I needed to change my ways, though I never would have expected it. I fought my way through it all and got my life back. Not only did I get my life back, but I got a better one the second time around” she says in her book.  Donna chose the cover for her book, a woman looking up to God in prayer because she felt it reflected her story well. “I cried when I first saw the cover” she admits.

Donna now spends much of her time ministering to people with her husband Lorenzo who are living on the streets.  Helping the homeless, the drug addicts and prostitutes has become her passion. “Hitting the streets is my calling,” she says. “I want people to know that they shouldn’t wait until something terrible happens to turn their life around and seek God.”

Mathew 22:37 has become a mainstay for Donna’s life now that she’s been given a second chance to live it. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Donna expresses her love and gratitude every day by making it a point to help others. Involved in a number of ministries at her church Lathrop Christian Center Donna says, “Everything I do now is for the purpose of serving God.”

A reminder of all that God has done for her and through her was once again made clear when Donna participated in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night Walk.”  The nation-wide event pays tribute and brings hope to people battling cancer. On these night walks, thousands of participants in various neighborhoods across the nation carry illuminated balloons to raise funds for research.  Those walking carry one of three colored balloons. Red balloons represent the sponsors of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Gold balloons represent those who have lost the battle to Leukemia while White balloons represent the survivors, which Donna was among the fortunate to carry.  

Being given a second chance by God has given Donna a new perspective on life and faith and a willingness to share what she’s learned with others.

To read more about Donna Anaya-Aragon’s story you can purchase her book, “My Second Chanc”e at, and other online bookstores.

To send comments about this article, email Monica Cane at abreathofinspiration@yahoo


Correspondent for the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin