A rainbow appeared in the sky yesterday in a kaleidoscope of colours after the storm and I think that was an omen of the many wondrous things that would happen today.
This morning I woke up and although I was extremely excited I had a mass of butterflies fluttering around in my stomach. I was a little nervous about the day and hoped that it would all go well and that people would love my book.
My launch was to be held at Thoroughbred Park at 10.00am so that did not give too much time for those butterflies to become much worse. As I slipped on my beautiful white, silky, fitting dress with delicate little flowers across the top and a tie at the back I felt like a princess. I chose my longest curly wig which I wore a rainbow headband that Tess gave me in my hair and put my fragile, sparkling silver necklace around my neck. The last thing was to put on my glittering, pink sandals upon my tiny feet. I had my fingernails painted in a deep pink nail polish in case they filmed my fingers when I was signing books. To finish off my outfit I had a lacy white shawl with rainbow coloured flowers scattered on it, finally I was ready. Theodore was dressed very smartly in his black tuxedo and I even combed his fur for the occasion, I was so glad he was coming with me.
A long white limousine arrived and it was time to head off for the biggest event of my short life. Jarrett thought he was a rock star as he sat in the seat and Nalani felt like she was famous and glamorous. The limousine driver took us for a little drive around before arriving at the venue, we were offered some non-alcoholic wine but I think we were all a little too anxious to have it at that time.
On arriving at Thoroughbred Park, I was greeted by camera's, some of the faces behind the camera were familiar and that helped me feel at ease. I took a deep breath after the media had taken the photographs they wanted and then we headed into the building and up to the Rich Reward Room which I have been told a few times may be good luck and will hopefully help me raise many funds for Brain Tumour Research.
We were greeted by Captain Starlight who played a ukulele as we were escorted to our place in the room as everyone in the room clapped. It was so overwhelming but so wonderful at the same time. Captain Starlight said a few words and then introduced a special treat for everyone which was Nalani. Nalani stood up and took a microphone and said that she was going to sing the song The Climb which she was dedicating to me. The music started and Nalani sang, she sounded so beautiful and halfway through it I felt like crying because it meant so much to me that she would do that for me. Even Captain Starlight had tears in her eyes and I think everyone there was totally amazed by how beautifully Nalani sang.
Captain Starlight then spoke about Starlight Day which is on 7th May and what Starlight do to help ill children and brighten their lives. Just like they granted my wish and organised the function to launch my book.
She then introduced Paul Gordon, he is such a determined and motivated man who started the wheels in motion to get my book to what it is today. He spoke with pride and thanked many of the other people who have passionately assisted in the whole process. I was feeling really choked up with what he said also that I was a real inspiration. He is such a special person and I am so glad that he has been part of my book and will always now remain part of my life.
After Paul spoke the leader of the opposition Zed Seselja spoke and his speech was wonderful and I could tell that he really meant every word he said and he wants to personally meet me in the next few weeks, which I feel very honoured about.
Then it was the amazing Tess' turn and her speech was very emotional and so heartfelt as she thanked many more people like David Furner and The Raiders, Short Stack, Luke the photographer, Greater Union and Benji Marshall. She also talked about how special I am and what I meant to her. Just before the end of her speech she said she had received three special messages, the first on was from Matt Preston from MasterChef, he said some really terrific things and I will get a copy of this and I will write it on my Blog so you can also read it. Next there was the most beautiful one from Benji Marshall who said he was inspired by me and that I was his hero, he is so unreal and with both these messages I could feel my throat tightened and my chest heave and I was very close to tears, so I took another deep breath. The last message was from the Honourable Prime Minister Mr Rudd and he also said that I am inspiring, the message is going to be posted to me. It is so wonderful that he also took the time when he is busy running our Country to think about me.
Mum and Jarrett went up to the microphone next and they did a fantastic speech also, I think my favourite part was when Jarrett at the end said "we love you Dainere". I am so lucky to have Mum, Dad, Nalani and Jarrett beside me and know that they are so proud of me and love me very much.
Then it was my turn, after so many beautiful speeches which had made me feel very emotional, I was a little nervous about doing my speech but because I wanted to thank the many people who have meant so much I found courage again within myself to do my speech. I think I did a really good job. This is what I said and it applies to any one that has been supporting me but was unable to attend my launch.
'You have to go through a storm to get to a rainbow. What does this mean to you? For me it is the story of my journey with cancer which is like a storm that blew into my life just over twelve months ago. Often the storm seemed to get worse but every now and then I had visions of a rainbow in the distance and that was a rainbow of hope for me.
When I was given the opportunity by The Starlight Children's Foundation, who grant very special wishes to children with serious illnesses like myself, I thought about it very carefully. I finally decided that I would like to have a book published about my journey and at the same time I also wanted to inspire and give hope to others, raise awareness about brain tumours and much needed funds for brain tumour research.
Now here we are today, it is like a dream come true but it would not have been possible without so many incredible people helping out so generously and enthusiastically along the way: Tess, my Starlight Wish Volunteer, my angel, who did not give up on believing that this was possible. Paul, Ben and Gavin who worked so passionately to see my book become a reality, they are the miracle men behind my book, Laurence who turned my simple Blog into this amazing book, Juliet and the Team at Murdoch Books for publishing and delivering my book, Carlos and the Focus Creative Team for their creativity, The Team at Geon for so generously printing my book, the wonderful Team at AXA who assisted in many ways and my Uncle James for creating my Blog to tell my story.
Sometimes our candle is blown out but glows brightly again when it is lit by the flame of human kindness, the media people like Jayne and the Channel Nine Team, Chris, Louise, Carol and the ABC Team, Natasha, James and the Team at The Canberra Times, Canberra FM and 2CC have all told my story so beautifully, they have helped raise awareness about my book and what I am hoping to achieve.
We are all given a path in our life, mine has not been easy but because of the love and support of my family and friends who I am so blessed to have around me, I have been able to find courage, strength and hope throughout my journey.
When you read my book, my special story I hope that it will touch your heart and make a difference to your lives like all of you here today have made to mine.'
I hope that you liked my speech, it took me a while to write because I wanted to make sure that I said what I really wanted to say and that it all came from within my heart.
After I did my speech Captain Starlight then officially launched my book and then everyone clapped loudly in the room. I had just a little time to say hello to some people that were there and I received so many fragrant and beautiful bunches of flowers and some lovely gifts which I am so grateful to those people who gave them to me.
I then had time for a toilet break before I had to sit at a table with Mum and Tess and Emila from Starlight for media questions but not too many questions were asked. I think everyone was waiting to get their books.
The que was massive and I began signing books, I had pre-signed some which was really lucky and helped me catch up a little. So many people gave me really positive comments about my book or wished me luck for my future. Many people bought more than one book which was wonderful and rather than $12.95 many gave a little extra this was so generous and kind and gives more to the Brain Tumour Fund which is just magnificent. The que gradually grew shorter as people bought their books. It was the most amazing feeling to sign the books and hand them to the wonderful people that were buying them. I had a warm and fuzzy feeling all over and I think I had a smile that would light up the whole of Canberra on a dark winters night.
I was auctioning my canvases also and was so surprised by the number of people that bid on them and now I am able to give the Brain Tumour Fund 100% of the funds from the sales of the canvases. The most popular one was 'You have to go through a storm to get to a rainbow' that is my signature motto that I live my life by.
I received a lovely surprise from my favourite Wests Tigers camera man Mark from Channel nine who had put together pictures from my day at the football with Benji Marshall. It was in a tall frame and as I looked down at the pictures it brought back the most wonderful memories of that special day. It is now sitting proudly in my bedroom and I will treasure it always.
We were then taken home in the limousine, on the way back we opened the bottle of non-alcoholic wine and had it in lovely glasses and Mum, Dad, Nalani and Jarrett all made a toast to me. We thanked the limousine driver who seemed very excited to have had driven me to my special event.
After that Tess, Paul, Ben, Gavin, Liam, Mum, Dad, Nalani, Jarrett and I went to lunch at Central Cafe. One of the staff asked me why we were dressed up and we told them and when they realised who I was they wanted to know if we had any books to sell as they really wanted one. Luckily Tess had some with her, so I was able to sign them and sell them there, I think I am a little bit of a celebrity now, that is pretty amazing signing books when you go to lunch! I had an iced chocolate for lunch as I did not feel like food. They serve really beautiful food there and they have different size meals. You should have seen the meals Gavin, Liam and Ben got they were huge because they asked for King size, Liam and Ben pretty well got through theirs but poor Gavin struggled. It was terrific having lunch and chatting to the people who have turned what was almost the impossible dream into an amazing reality. We had a fantastic time with them but then it was time for them to head back to Sydney. I felt a little sad, a bit like Christmas, you wait and then the event happens and then it is all over just like that. I gave big hugs to all of them and they said that they will always now be part of my life. I am so glad because they are just the greatest, most genuine and kind people I have met.
We then came home and I read cards that people had given me, one that really touched my heart and made me cry with happiness was one that Gavin had left for me, I have really touched his life and I am so glad that I could do that.
I signed some more books for Tess to take back to Sydney tomorrow and signed some posters for the offices of the people who were part of my book becoming a reality. I then watched the news and saw myself at my launch, I was filled with a happiness that is so hard to describe but it felt like a humongous hug.
Some people have asked where you can buy my book, well you can buy it online at http://www.dainere.com/ or follow the link at the side of this blog and it will take you to it or Angus and Robertson and Borders are going to stock it also.
I am now quite exhausted but feel like I have lived in a fairytale today and I hope that that feeling will last forever.