Because I Care:
A Tribute to Dee Appel
by Tammy L Adams
"Because I Care" this simple affirmation from the title of one of Dee Appel's over 35 women's and children's gift books, illustrates the motivation for spending her days as a beacon of light in the midst of dark circumstance.
Her "Friend to Friend" and "A Tiny Tea" series' overflow with comforting poetic verse to "Brighten a corner of a heart in need…" WaterBrook Press.
'Dee Appel' Tennant was born Diane Margaret Kenna on September 29, 1945 in Portland, Oregon to Howard and Grace. This Oregon native worked twenty-four years as a legal secretary and investigator, and polished her outreach talents as the Dayspring Christian Fellowships Minister of Music for 20 years.
Whenever Dee felt Gods gentle hand take the lead in her life, she followed with a cheerful heart. You might find her in the volunteer ranks of the Banks Fire Department or carting hundreds of wedding gowns around a "Brides for Breast Cancer" wish granting event. No matter the task, her compassion flowed with the measure of a welcoming smile and the comfort of a warm embrace.
In 2003, Dee discovered Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation, as a breast cancer survivor since 1996 she realized the importance of the foundations mission. Thrilled with the organizations purpose of granting wishes to terminally ill breast
In December of 2004, the cancer that lurked within Dee found a path to her liver and brought with it a stage IV diagnosis. "I was slammed in the heart by the deep emotional devastation felt by all of those whom Making Memories serves," said Dee.
Dee continued her work with Making Memories, traveling around the country with the 'Brides Against Breast Cancer, Nationwide Tour of Gowns' and allowing her creativity and natural gift for the written word, to flow into articles created especially for and about Making Memories. Even when she moved to Texas to have the loving presence of her family within arms reach, Dee continued her dedication to the Foundation.
In March of 2005 while filming a television promotional for an upcoming 'March for Memories' event in Portland, Dee received an unexpected phone call from her daughter while on camera. To her amazement, preparations for granting her a surprise wish had gone on 'under-her-nose' as she worked for the Making Memories National Headquarters.
The dream vacation to Colorado's Snake River with her children Jennifer, Erik and Nikolas along with her grandchildren Andrew, Zachary, Emily and Branden was a true gift of love. The family lived two weeks of freedom, rafting, swimming, golfing, fishing and hot tubing, uninhibited by disease or financial constraints. A Belgian draft-horse drawn wagon train carried Dee and her family past breathtaking vistas to a charming ranch nestled among the stately mountains for a fabulous dinner. The pinnacle event was a gondola ride high above the serene mountains that culminated in a Bavarian serenaded banquet.
"We left all our cares and my health concerns far behind us in Texas and reveled in the joy of each other's company," Dee reminisced.
February of 2006 found Dee the newly appointed director of the Southern Division of Making Memories, and inside a literal whirlwind, as Hurricane Rita hit the new Southern headquarters.
After fighting breast cancer, Dee found puddle jumping hurricanes and two week sleepovers with hundreds of her closest neighbors in the Knights of Columbus Hall, a mere inconvenience. Then came the task of finding thousands of homeless wedding gowns a place to live, her creative Southern team stashed them into every available niche in five separate locations until a large building could be constructed on Dee's daughter’s property.
The Southern Division kept her quite busy as they began their own "Southern Tour of Gowns." Dee continued to give unselfishly to fellow sufferers of the life-robbing ailment, 'Because She Cared'.
"It is an inside view…I wish I did not have, but I will do as I can for as long as I have the breath to do so…," she said.
Dee's zest for life and exceptional gift for volunteering continued until the last few weeks of her time on earth. On January 28, 2007 at home and surrounded by loved ones, she surrendered to her long battle with breast cancer.