Sometimes, an incurable disease can hit close to home, very close.
For Mauricio Decaroli, his neighbors and good friends in Prior Lake have two boys diagnose with Cystic Fibrosis CF, a chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. Decaroli managers Luther’s Customer Care Center in Hopkins.
The boys diagnosed 12-year old Payton Comp and his brothre, Trevon, 7, often play with Decaroli’s children, and are considered part of the family. Together with their parents, the two formed “Team Dynamite” to walk in the “Great Strides” event, raising almost $4,500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The May event at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis set the stage for the event with 600 to 700 people.
Both boys are undergoing treatment. “They do not stop their life, they just keep running,” explains Decaroli, who said they are handling it quite well. He was shocked by their fighting spirit. Decades ago, people with CF seldom lived to attend elementary school, but people with CF today today live, on average, to their late 30s, according to the foundation.
The boys seldom show their sickness to others. Trevon enjoys the outdoors, fishing, water and the forest, and wants to be a lifeguard, Decaroli explains.
“It was nice to support them” he said. “It’s more when it hits the young kids. It’s hard to see a kid see this type of thing with no cures.” For more on the Comps, see http://www.cff.org/great_strides
Knowing that cancer patients often need blood transfusions after treatment, car biller Jane Dohn at Luther Family Buick GMC decided it was time to step up to help, and honor two of her coworkers who were diagnosed.
Organizing a blood drive, Dohn rallied 22 blood donors from the store, and for seven, it was their first time. “If every person needs a transfusion, you can imagine how much they need,” she said. On the April day of the event, she heard one patient was using a lot of Type B blood. She and parts counterman Lynn Pratschner each gave a double donation. Their blood was drawn, cycled back into the system and drawn again.
On the minds of many were receptionist Joan Krause, who was diagnosed with certical cancer and received a clean bill of health before finding out later than she had breast cancer. “Some days, she’s feeling pretty tough but you never know it,” said Dohn. After recovering from treatments, she’s still able to handle paperwork, even with numb fingers. Krause always has kind words for others, who can learn much from her good attitude, Dohn explained.
Krause said the chemotherapy makes her weak. These cause her ankles to swell and shortness of breath, but the blood transfusions make her feel much better. “You get little blood and get the energy, it’s amazing.”
Krause is in good condition compared to some she sees in treatment. One girl, about 10, was using a walker and had lost her hair. “It breaks your heart to see the little kids up there,” she said.
Another employee familiar with the cancer battle, and eager to encourage others, is Parts Manager Larry Mitchell. In 2008, he had a cough that wouldn’t go away and an itch inside his arm. Doctors found a softball size tumor in his chest. It was lymphoma.Ge sought treatment right away, and lost a lot of energy as a result.
After celebrating four years in recovery, he has been able to encourage Krause and others to fight on. Hearing about people who have cancer doesn’t mean much, he said. “When you’re that person it changes everything.” He followed his doctor’s orders, even to the point of helpiong to start the Embrace program, a support group for cancer survivors and patients.