Less than three months ago Diana Fontana’s breast cancer diagnosis came as a shock to everyone, especially her. The El Dorado Hills stay-at-home mom is a licensed registered nurse with what she called zero risk factors.
“I eat right, I exercise, I’m not overweight,” she said. “I’ve learned 85 percent of women with new breast cancer have no risk factors, but I’m still wrapping my head around it.”
Her husband of 15 years Perry echoed these sentiments. “She’s always looking out for the kids and me,” he said. “Even when I’m on business trips Diana makes sure I’m eating nutritious foods.”
Last February Diana’s annual mammogram came back clear, but during a routine self-exam in September she found a lump. “Some people might be scared,” said Perry. “But she jumped into action and started to battle it head-on.”
Diana, 51, was diagnosed with an aggressive triple negative form of cancer that had reached Stage 3. “I am very lucky I found it when I did,” she said.
On Oct. 17 Diana had a double mastectomy, but in her usual, fearless spirit told friends to expect her at the Lake Forest Elementary harvest festival that weekend. She didn’t attend, but friends still marveled at her resolve.
The night before her first chemotherapy treatment in Rocklin last Friday morning Diana wanted a party. She rallied her friends and her parents flew in from Arizona for a hair cutting party at Reflections Salon in Folsom.
“There’s no sense wasting all this hair,” she said of the long locks she’s had all her life. “I’m determined to make something positive out of a poopy situation. It’s kind of like spitting in cancer’s face.”
Diana will donate her hair so children suffering from alopecia (a condition that causes permanent hair loss) will benefit. “Some little girl or teen is going to LOVE all this hair,” she said. “The long wigs are harder to come by and cost around $8,000 to make. It’s hard enough as an adult to go bald; I can’t even imagine being a teen girl and going bald.”
Diana’s daughter Joely, 13, and son Cole, 10, did the honors of cutting her two pony tails before longtime stylist Kelly Mosher fashioned her hair into a pixie cut. “Mom’s haircut is going to be really cute,” said Joely as surrounding friends buzzed about Diana having the right bone structure to pull off a short hairdo.
As for the champagne toast and general positive attitude in the room, Joely credited her mother with the atmosphere. “We have no other choice than to be brave,” she said. Asked if she’d also cut her long hair, the eighth-grader smiled and said, “I offered, but her hair grows back so fast. I’d still be bald after her hair grows back.”
“The outpouring of support has been overwhelming,” Perry said. “I tell friends I honestly can cook, but we’ve had meals delivered nearly every night since this all began. Friends have taken our kids … it’s just been so much help I can’t believe it. That’s what I’m humbled by — everything people have done for our family.”
Born in Fair Play, Diana traversed the country before relocating back to the region three years ago with her family. Perry’s also from the area, but his work as president and CEO of Fontana Energy has had him living all over the world. “I grew up in Grass Valley, but I’ve lived in Asia, Latin America, all over. Most recently we went from Santa Barbara to the Bay Area to Colorado and then settled in El Dorado Hills, close to our roots. After how good everyone’s been to us here I tell the kids we’re not ever moving again.”