Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Case Study #87 - Kathy Climbing to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest

"Kathy Climbing to Mt. Everest's Base Camp" Oil on Canvas. 30" x 24" 2020.

Kathy Diane Wennihan was was born in 1960 in Fairfax, MO. After receiving her high school diploma from Oak Park Academy in Nevada, IA in 1978, Kathy attended Union College in Lincoln, NE. Kathy resided in Des Moines with her two most recent rescue cats, Eli and Delilah. Kathy enjoyed a long career as a Patient Care Technician with Mercy Hospitals in Des Moines where she was fortunate to have met and bonded with many kind and supportive friends.

Kathy had NF1 which manifested itself in many different ways throughout her life
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. Kathy was active with the Children's Tumor Foundation and attended the CTF NF patient forum in Austin, TX in 2016 to learn more about how to get relief from the nerve pain through clinical trials although there was not one that she qualified for at the time. Kathy also took great pride in her association with Above + Beyond Cancer, a charitable organization with the mission to elevate the lives of those touched by cancer, to create a healthier world, and through that association she transformed from relatively inactive into an accomplished athletic adventurer.

Never a runner, Kathy completed a marathon while suffering through cancer treatments. She ventured with Above + Beyond to Everest Base Camp and was part of the Above + Beyond Cancer Team for Dam to Dam and the Des Moines marathon. She also participated in many indoor cycling classes.

Kathy was a tireless volunteer and was chosen for the Above + Beyond Cancer Award in 2018. Kathy has become a pillar of the amazing impact Above + Beyond Cancer can have on cancer survivors. Kathy passed away in 2019 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Case Study #86 - Lars Responding to Messages

"Lars Responding to Messages" 30" x 24" Oil on Canvas.

Lars Roeyen (1997-2014) 

Lars lived in the city of Genk within the region of Limburg, Belgium. He was born with a predisposition disorder. When he was 2 years old we noticed that his fine motor skills showed some defects. An MRI showed something but it was not clear and was not looked into further by the attending pediatrician. Kinetic therapy was recommended. Then suddenly at the age of 16 he got a bump on his head that the doctor thought was a fat bump. Lars was disturbed by this bump and he was bullied with it at school. A cardiovascular surgeon removed his bump under local anesthesia and saw that it was attached to the nerves. She immediately made the link at NF and a new MRI showed that he had one tumor in the brain stem, one on and a larger older one outside. In total he had 19 tumors spread on the spiral cord and face. He walked into hospital for an urgent brain operation and came out with paralyzed hands and legs.TV and Facebook were his only outlet and even with this he needed help. Despite all this he remained optimistic with an indescribable humor. On  November 1, 2014 he said goodbye to us with a very scared heart about what was to come. 
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NF changed the lives of his family forever. He wanted to be famous for 1 day and he succeeded. He was invited on Q-Music which is a famous Belgian radio station. While the family was there the big boss saw him and asked to follow Lars for the rest of the day to make a newsflash. The man onthe radio station broadcasted to the people listening to write Lars cards while he was in the hospital. He got about 4,000 cards in the rehabilitation clinic and also at home. There were even people who sent the family some money for a drive with the special cab. (This was very expensive! Lars never left home for the rest of his days after it.) Lars got letters from all over the world including the queen and king of Belgium as well as their army. His sister, who is three years older, was his mainstay, nurse and best friend as well as his dog Pepa who rode everywhere on the rock chair. Lars was a NF2 warrior.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Case Study #85 - Tommy Showing the Way

"Tommy Showing the Way" Oil on Canvas. 30" x 24"

Thomas A. Dobbin aka the Mandalorian (1980 - 2012)

Tommy was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis (NF) when he was just six months old. The telltale sign that led to this discovery was a cafĂ© au lait spot on Tommy's young body. Even at a young age, and with very little knowledge of NF, Tommy accepted the challenge that his life offered. Tommy’s NF slowed his progress down, but never stopped him, because “that was the way” (The Mandalorian). Tommy's head was slightly larger than most due to a dormant tumor in his head. When Tommy hit puberty, his NF kicked into high gear with visual lumps on some spots of his skin, as well as inside his chest cavity. As Tommy struggled with growth from boy to man, he also battled with his peers noticing 
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that he was different in speed, education, and motor function skills but smiled it off, because “that was the way.” It was this same smile that won the hearts of so many that encountered Tommy and is the same reason why he had the backing of his High School Basketball team to make a basket but was unable to. During his senior year he found out that some of the tumors inside his chest were on his lungs, but that same year he made a basket during a game and had the whole crowed cheering and standing.

After high school, Tommy struggled with learning how to drive so he walked everywhere. This is right about the same time when his NF stared to provide Tommy with additional problems. Tommy had one of the tumors on his lung cause a bleed that resulted in the removal of part of his lung. In Tommy's prime he suffered the same bleed on the opposite side, but this time the result was it stopped without having to remove part of that lung. Despite his medical struggles, Tommy met the love of his life, Tiffany, and they were married. They were blessed with two children, a boy and a girl, who were fortunately not born with the same genetic disorder. Tommy knew he could collect money from the state for his medical issues but chose to work and provide for his family as a cart pusher all while walking to work each day, because “this was the way.”

In his 30’s Tommy NF progressed to a point where the tumors wrapped around the organ that so many loved, his heart. Tommy started to struggle more with work and daily tasks. In an effort to slow the growth of the tumor wrapping around his aorta, Tommy went to a Manhattan hospital to receive a drug to slow the growth. Unfortunately, the treatment was cut short as he lost his battle to NF two months later at the age of 32. Until the end, Tommy continued to work, be a great father to his kids, a doting husband, and a shining beacon to all that witnessed his drive and smile, because “this was the way.” Tommy loved to cook, the outdoors, his family, all walks of life and just that, LIFE. Tommy’s motivation to live life to the fullest is a reminder to all that met him, because “that is the way.”