THANK YOU FROM MY HEART!
The Quiet Ones. You know who you are. You have been to my site once or more to see how I am doing. You didn't feel right leaving a guest book entry (and that's quite alright), but you thought about me, my struggle, gave me some positive energy. Your link to me may be strong or distant, but I want you to know that I felt your presence and I needed it all. Thank you for being here.
We've Never Met. Strange how this works, but some visitors heard about me from others, obviously took the time to read much of the site and left a message to let me know they care. You are a special breed of person and I hope I meet up with you some day.
Friends From The Past. I heard from people that I have not seen or talked to in many, many years. I am not certain how they heard about me, but they took the time to visit and leave a short note. Whether we worked together or were competitors, lived in the same neighborhood, went to school together or have just lost touch, I thank you for making the effort to connect. It was a constant reminder of where I come from and how much more I have to live for. I wish you all the best!
St. John's University. I cannot overestimate the the impact of St. John's on my life. The incredible principles of community, caring, sharing, friendship and spirituality have helped me throughout my life, but they really came in handy during this time of need. I heard from numerous school administers many times during the past nine months and their words of encouragement and prayers for me were heartfelt. In addition, my fellow SJU alum friends kept in touch frequently, reminding me how good that first beer will taste together!
The McGlynn Bakeries Family. I heard from many former employees as well as current employees at DecoPac. I sincerely felt the presence of the "baking family" as I heard from all of you. Your kind words helped me reflect on my life in the bakery and the great friendships that remain. A special thanks to my brother Mike, Amy, Rick, Shelly, Pat, Bryon and Barb who have helped transition my bakery duties to others.
My Email Buddies. Everyone enjoys a good laugh - especially me. Thanks for keeping me in the loop when you read a good one. My doctors reminded me that laughter is great medicine. Thanks for helping me laugh when there wasn't too much to laugh about. Marty, Harry, Ed, Terry, Tim, Rick, Ben, Lisa, Russ, Barb, Dick and Brian are just a few of my best contributors.
St. Andrew's Investment Club. Rather than all thirteen of you contacting me weekly for updates (from what I understand), Marty acted as the main communications for the club. Thank you to Marty for doing this - I really needed my rest. In addition, a special thank you to Dick for excusing himself from the December outing because of a cold - I still owe you dinner for that one!
Special Friends. Deb and I received tons of offers from our friends to help out in any way they could. They all offered to make trips to Mayo for us and do anything else we wanted. Some sent cards, some made a phone call or two. We did not need much help, but we did have a couple short visits from the Stockman's and Kupper's that helped brighten our spirits. Patti Stockman helped Deb emotionally as Deb shared my daily progress with her. On the home front, our dear friend Heather moved into our home to care for the cats, sort mail, and manage the household. Without her help, I don't know how we could have been away so long. Thank you all!
My Relatives. My cousins, nieces and nephews stayed in contact via my site for the duration. Their words of encouragement meant so much! Their multiple guest book entries (they dominate the site) made me feel like they were on my team and sitting right in the hospital with me. I felt you always - thank you. Deb's parents and siblings were supportive through their prayers, phone calls and positive energy. Their kind words let me know I was always on their minds. The phone calls from my aunt Jeanne were always an unexpected surprise. And aunt Peggy always asked about me as she was dealing with her own struggles. God bless you all!
The Minneapolis Medical Team. On September 21, 2004 I nearly collapsed getting out of the shower. I saw Dr. Zavoral, a cardiac specialist that I was seeing for high cholesterol. I credit Dr. Zavoral with knowing exactly what to do. He ordered a series of blood tests, revealed I had low red and white blood counts referred me to see a hematologist immediately. Dr. Zavoral might have saved my life. I cannot thank him enough for his medical knowledge and wisdom.Dr. Nashawaty, my local hematologist, provided care to me right up to going to Mayo for transplant. My first bone marrow biopsy was negative for MDS, but he kept looking for the cause of my anemia. After I was diagnosed in November, Dr. Nashawaty continued to monitor my blood levels and provide transfusions until my donor could be found and we left for Mayo. His kind approach and recommendation for transplant helped calm Deb and I to know I would be OK. His assistant Gary always managed to meet our scheduling needs and made us feel like we came first. Thank you!The Fairview Southdale IV Therapy Department saw Deb and I many times between September and April for blood transfusions. June, Peg, Beth & Janice always found time to personalize our experience and wish us the best of luck - thank you! Deb and I have a special friendship with June, a woman who gives tirelessly to her work and family. Her devotion is amazing.As I approached transplant, I began home drug infusion to reduce high iron levels. The Fairview Home Infusion team taught Deb and I how to administer the drugs and kept us in supply at all times. Their team works around the clock to make sure there are no problems. Thank you all.
The Mayo Clinic Team. The Mayo Clinic is an amazing place. It can be summed up in my mind in two words - excellence and teamwork. On November 17, 2004 I saw Dr. White at the Mayo Clinic. After many tests, including a second bone marrow biopsy, we met with Dr. Call on November 24th and we were told I had MDS. Dr. Call brought in bone marrow transplant specialist Dr. Hogan to be my primary doctor throughout the process. Both Dr. Call and Dr. Hogan agreed that I should seriously consider a bone marrow transplant. Their wisdom has saved my life.Finding a donor is no small feat. I worked with Mayo transplant coordinator Michelle Skaar. I bothered Michelle weekly (or more) with questions about donors, my transplant process and how the donor database works. She always made time for me and was honest about my chances for a donor from the start. Michelle stayed on my case until a perfectly matched donor was found. I am sure she could feel the tears of happiness on my face as she told me the news on March 2, 2005. Thank you Michelle for your patience with me.On April 18th, I checked into the hospital and the care of the bone marrow transplant team of nurses, assistants, dieticians, lab techs, physician assistants, doctors, etc. They administered, monitored and adjusted my transplant progress and documented everything. This dedicated team of men and women define human kindness and caring of the sick. They took care of my every need, lifted my spirits and answered my thousands of questions - all the while telling me to let them know if I needed ANYTHING. They almost beg you to let them help you more. Their passion for their work is overwhelming, their compassion for my well being is beyond words. I cannot thank them enough.Dr. William Hogan has been my primary doctor at Mayo. Once we agreed to attempt my transplant, Dr. Hogan personalized my transplant regiment based on the progress of my disease and my medical history and condition. I saw him every couple days while in the hospital, but the rest of the team kept him in the loop and probably talked to him daily. As complications arose, Dr. Hogan made certain I saw specialists and received tests immediately in order to remedy before things worsened. His collaboration with the entire Mayo team gave me confidence that I was receiving the best care possible. The respect that the rest of the staff has for Dr. Hogan is very evident. He has answered all my tough questions in layman's terms and has been very honest about the risks still ahead. I am now seeing Dr. Hogan twice a week. Without the transplant, my quality of life would not be very good this summer. Dr. Hogan has helped me attain a second chance of life. There is no way to thank him enough.
My Siblings. When I was told I needed a bone marrow donor, the doctors explained that my siblings would be the best place to look. In fact, there is a 25% chance that any sibling will be perfect match. Mike, Tim, Molly and Tom all immediately agreed to be tested and sincerely all wanted to my perfect match. Unfortunately, none of them matched and we searched for an unrelated donor. They were all heart broken. But, their involvement did not stop there. They all became integral to my recovery by calling me almost daily, visiting me at Mayo, communicating my condition to friends and family and giving me their love, support, and humor. I love them so much!
My Parents. I am very fortunate, at age 51, to have both my parents still living. My mother, due to her health, is not aware of my transplant. But, her strength in dealing with her own health issues has been a guiding light for me to follow through all of this. My father and step-mom flew Deb and I see them in Florida prior to my transplant when I could not travel commercially. During my entire procedure, I spoke to my father almost daily, he traveled home from Florida to see me and he prayed for me constantly. Our conversations lifted my spirits and drove my desire to persevere. Thank you Dad for still being around to help me out.
My kids. Amy, Ben, Andy, Megan & Kelly were asked to carry a heavy burden through all of this. Deb and I had to explain the very tough reality of survival rates of someone in my condition and I know they all felt helpless during my ordeal. I kept a very positive attitude in order for them to carry out their lives without having too worry endlessly about me. And it worked for all of us. Their visits to see me in Rochester were wonderful, even though I was exhausted all the time. And now time together at home is very special. It is just like old times, only better.
Deb. Deb is my love, my soul mate and this spring she was thrust into a role as my primary care giver. She never left my side. She was there more than any other care giver! She worked day and night to see my needs were met, my care was the best and that I got help when needed. She surrounded me with angels to guide me. She fed me, walked me, clothed me, showered me and did it all with a smile on her face and love in her heart. If I had to do it again without her, I am not sure I could. She is my everything.
My Donor. My donor is unknown to me. All I know is that my donor lives outside the U.S. Yet, this person, for reasons unknown, agreed to be on a bone marrow donor database and was called to be a donor for me. The potential donor was tested further to see if they were a perfect match (they were) and later agreed to further tests to see if they were in condition to actually supply some of their stem cells. Then, my donor agreed to be put asleep as two doctors drew dozens of bone marrow samples from both hips. The recovery leaves most donors in pain for days up to three weeks. His/her gift of life to me is testament to the good people on this earth. Over the next year, I will be allowed to make anonymous contact with my donor and after my transplant anniversary, I may be able to make contact directly with my donor. I cannot wait to thank him/her for my gift of life. Update: I have made contact with my donor, an incredible woman from Germany. She is about 10 years my junior, married with 2 children. She and I have traded pictures and touch base from time to time. I respect her decision to not meet in person.
My Faith. It is amazing how life threatening situations will strengthen faith in God. I have lived a very very happy and fortunate life. In my past, I felt I could pray for others, but that with my few problems, I could not burden God to focus on little old me. Even as I entered the hospital, I felt that others were worse off than I and prayer almost seemed selfish. As my case became more complicated and I was at my weakest, Deb worked with me to understand that I must ask for God's help. Quickly, the power of prayer worked to heal me faster than expected and my faith grew to new heights. I began to cherish prayer time with Deb. The power of God's love and healing power delivered me back to health. This will help me make me a better person forever.