About / Joanna’s Story
Joanna’s story is like so many melanoma warriors—a battle through surgery, recurrence and other treatments.
Joanna M. Nicolay was first diagnosed with melanoma in the mid-1970s. With each recurrence of the disease, in the 70s and 80s, the melanoma became dramatically more aggressive.
Throughout this period, Joanna’s love of life and strong faith never faltered. Her unforgettable voice, laughter and radiant smile never failed to lighten a room and brighten the spirits of those in her presence.
Miraculously, after a 12 hour operation in 1985, Joanna was melanoma-free for 15 years. During this period, Joanna’s network of outreach and prayer was far-reaching.
In 2000, the melanoma returned, this time as a brain tumor. Joanna, once again, waged war against this deadly disease. During this fight, Joanna continued to bring a comforting glow to all she knew and met.
Finally, Joanna lost her prolonged battle with melanoma in March, 2003. Upon her death, Joanna was awarded a “Celebration of Life” citation noting “...the life accomplishments of a woman who made a positive difference in the lives of all who had the privilege of sharing her wisdom, love and friendship…”
Governor of the state of Maryland to:
Joanna M. Nicolay “Celebration of Life”
Be it known: that on behalf of the citizens of this state, in recognition of the memory of an exceptional woman whose loving and generous spirit endeared her to all…in tribute to the beautiful way she enriched the lives of her family and friends; and as our citizens join in offering our sincere condolences and great respect as we reflect on the life accomplishments of a woman who truly made a positive difference in the lives of all who had the privilege of sharing her wisdom, love and friendship, we are pleased to confer upon you this Governor’s Citation.
Given under my hand and the great state of Maryland this 18th day of March two thousand and three.
Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., Governor
Through your support, the resonance of Joanna’s intentions, legacy and “Celebration of Life” will positively impact many generations to come. Click here to volunteer your time to support the Foundation or click here to Donate.
Joanna loved to cut out a special verse, letter or poem she found in the newspaper or daily calendar. She saved these in her nightstand. After she died, we found this special poem (author unknown). It summarizes Joanna’s love of life and those around her and her special acceptance of what was to come.
To Those I Love
If I should ever leave you whom I love, to go along the Silent Way, grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there.
(I’d come - I’d come, could I but find a way! But, would not tears and grief be barriers?)
And when you hear a song or see a bird I love, please do not let the thought of me be sad…For I am loving you just as I always have…
You were so good to me!
There are so many things I wanted still to do - so many things to say to you… Remember that I did not fear… It was just leaving you that was so hard to face…
We cannot see beyond…
But this I know: I loved you so - ‘twas heaven here with you.
The logo of the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma foundation captures this message - the bird flying towards the heaven as the sun sets…