I am Deirdre Dougherty Grogan. I was born March 6, 1951 in Bristol Tennessee, where I spent my formative years with parents James J. and Helyn Link Dougherty and five beloved siblings, Patrick, Shamas, Brennan, Ronan and Tara. I graduated high school with honors and went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Literature from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, where I held several campus positions and was named to the Laurel Honor Society and to Phi Beta Kappa. Following graduation, I served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador, South America. I returned to Atlanta, Georgia, where I worked as a bilingual social worker and earned a United Way Service award for professional and volunteer work within the Hispanic community. I married the love of my life, Mark Anthony Grogan, in 1985, and welcomed another large Irish family as my own. Our only child, Alyson Lee, was born on May 9, 1988. I began a long career in various types of insurance – in management and as a peon – working for John Hancock, Greater Georgia Life and THOMCO/MARKEL Insurance. While working, I participated as a volunteer at Woodland Elementary, McClesky Middle and Sprayberry High Schools, where Alyson was a student.
I raised my daughter with blinders on; nothing and no one could get in the way of the vision I had for her. Her father’s influence was more significant than mine, but I believe that she sensed my obsessions and hopes and the time I dedicated to her. To our satisfaction, she is a stellar young woman who has made us terribly proud and ecstatically happy. She has, in fact, far surpassed her mother’s vision! When I reflect that my life has been quite mundane, I look to my daughter and realize that it has been nothing less than extraordinary. And, by marrying her Prince Charming in July, 2011, she has brought me a wonderful son, J. Kyle Brooks.
I was diagnosed in November, 2011 with Stage 4 colon cancer which had spread to the liver. I underwent chemotherapy and surgery and was cancer-free from June, 2012 to March, 2013. The cancer has now metastasized to both lungs and the diaphragm, and I am again undergoing treatment to prolong my life as long as possible. I hope to remain strong for as long as God sees fit to keep me on this earth.
Cancer is definitely a cloud with a silver lining. It has taught me not to sweat the small stuff and – most importantly – it has taught me about the awe-inspiring goodness and generosity of mankind. I have experienced several miracles and have met countless earthly angels along my way. My eyes and heart have been opened, and I am now acutely aware of the beauty of nature and humanity.