In May of 2011, Canfield resident Brenda Dama's appendix burst and during the routine biopsy taken during the appendectomy, she was diagnosed with appendiceal cancer. Since that event, Dama has undergone a lengthy surgery and spent six months taking chemotherapy. In June of this year, the cancer returned and sent Dama into further aggressive treatments.
The past year brought a mountain of medical bills and expenses to the Dama family. It also touched a close family friend, Jimmy Gianotti. Along with Kelly Warren, Brenda and Tommy Dama's daughter-in-law, Gianotti decided to help out with a fundraiser.
Gianotti is the lead singer of the Catholic contemporary Christian rock group named Power of Praise. The group has held successful benefits in the past for Hurricane Katrina victims, for the flood-ravaged Ashtabula County a few years ago, and has worked with Catholic Charities on several occasions.
"Power of Praise has been together for over seven years now," Gianotti said. "We have performed at benefits, church festivals, youth ministry events, evenings of praise and worship, Elkton Prison, Relay for Life, and several other events in the surrounding areas."
He said the group wanted to help the Dama family and Warren quickly helped set up things.
"She has done all the leg work as far as speaking with St. Christine's Church and getting the church for us and anything else we need," Gianotti said.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, a free concert will be held at the church, 3165 Schenley Road. Gianotti said it will be an evening of prayer and song and a freewill offering will be taken to help the family.
As for Brenda's health, she was doing fine up untill a month ago. Gianotti said she experienced a relapse and was sent back to Pittsburgh for another surgery. After she was opened up, the surgeons closed her and said there was nothing more they could do for her. The family turned to the Chicago hospital that saw the records and said the same thing.
"They said there was nothing more they could do for her and gave her about two to six months to survive," Gianotti said." The medical bills continue to mound up for the family which is why we are having the nenefit to help not only Brenda with prayer at the benefit but for the family as well."
Dama passed away Tuesday, Nov. 6 at Hospice House.
"Before going to hospice, a handful of friends of hers including myself went to her house for a prayer service," Gianotti said. Deacon Ron Layko performed the service. It was quite beautiful and Brenda was able to draw a large amount of strength from that evening. We continue to pray for her."
He said Dama is a good friend to all and a kind, caring woman who deserves a lot of prayer over her situation.
"I don't think there is enough space in cyberspace for me to tell you what a beautiful person Brenda is. Gianotti said. "I'm not just saying this because we are friends. Brenda is one of the most loving people I know. She never has a bad word for anyone. She is the kind of person who will always come to your aid if you need her," he said.
"She has been active in her parish for many years working with the youth and any other organization that she has been asked to join. I don't think I've ever seen her say no to anyone. She is very knowledgeable about her faith, and she just loves people. God truly gave us a gift the day Brenda was born."