Sunday, November 10, 2013

Words from my Father

My father wrote this today, and it explains a little better about what's been going on this week with my help.  I wish that you could have all heard his wonderful toast on Friday night. If I know my dad well enough, I know it was probably done extemporaneously.  But he took time to write this one out, and so I wanted to share it to my networks as well.


I wish to share with all of you the roller-coaster recounting of events in the life of the Mohn family over the past week, in hopes that you will join us in prayers of joy and of appeal for God’s intercession and healing power…

Many of you know that my daughter Kristen, aged 36, was diagnosed more than a year ago with Stage –zero breast cancer. She had a mastectomy in December, at which time the cancer had advanced to Stage 2. Her surgery was to be followed by a chemotherapy regimen from mid-January through May. At the time scheduled for the first chemo on January 22, the doctors discovered numerous lesions on her liver – elevating the progress of the cancer to Stage 4.

At the end of the chemotherapy in May, the liver lesions seemed to be stabilized. Kristen and her
fiancĂ©, Michael Dellaporta, proceeded to plan for a wedding, which was held two evenings ago – Friday. The bride was stunningly beautiful and radiant, the groom handsome and debonair, and the father of the bride -- well, we shall leave that to others to decide!

What only a handful of wedding guests (immediate family and a very small number of special friends)

knew was that the preceding Friday she had received the results of an MRI of the brain. This diagnostic test was initiated after she had had an evening of nausea and disorientation while on a trip to New York City. From that time until she had her next monthly consultation with her oncologist, she continued to have difficult with hearing, numbness in the ear and right side of her face, along with balance problems.

Thus – the brain scan was immediately in order.

The news was not good. She has developed several lesions in the brain. The most serious is positioned against the brain stem, thus causing the balance and disorientation problems. Radiation therapy, on a daily basis, was called for. The radiation oncologist agreed to allow treatment to begin tomorrow (Monday), so that the wedding celebration could proceed. Kristen and Michael chose not to air this latest medical complication in order that guests could maintain a celebratory atmosphere, rather than turning it into a “pity party” that would be exceedingly uncomfortable for all concerned. And, indeed, the rehearsal dinner, wedding, and reception were stellar! And the bride WAS stunning – even if I am a mite biased!

Because Saturday (yesterday) was the groom’s birthday, Kristen had arranged a backyard taco-and-beverage fete for the wedding guests and friends. Some of the guests were part of a broad “Twitter community” who traveled to Atlanta from across the country – literally – to meet face-to-face for the first time and to celebrate the union of these “electronic friends”. The weather cooperated – partly cloudy and moderately cool. At least 60-70 guests were in attendance.

In the midst of the party, Kristen became disoriented and stumbled, falling and hitting her head on a deck rail. While there were no visible lacerations or other injuries, it was apparent that something abnormal was occurring. She was helped into her house, where she continued to lose sensation in the right side of her face and body, to the extent that she could not turn or lift her head. EMTs were dispatched, and she, her mom Sharon, and groom Michael accompanied her to the Emory University Hospital.

After a long evening, it was determined that she had suffered a seizure. She continued to have minor seizures that would last 30 seconds or so, for several hours until anti-seizure medication could take full effect. She did remain conscious and responsive throughout the whole episode. Naturally, they kept her overnight for further evaluation and consultation with a neurologist this morning.

The good news is that she is now being discharged and will be on her way home shortly. The bad news is that the lesions in her brain are brandishing their power over her system. We must hope that the intensive radiation treatments beginning tomorrow will take immediate effect toward halting this evil disease.

Throughout this whole year-long ordeal, Kristen has shown enormous strength and determination to squeeze the last drop of goodness out of every second of every day. She is a fighter – while she has her moments, as any of us would – none of them have become self-pitying, hopeless, or angry in self-destructive ways. Her anger, to the extent that she has it, is a “righteous anger” that she is only one of many who face similar life-challenging difficulties.
She is not a “victim” – she is a whole person, one who must never take life, or love, or compassion for other people for granted. I invite all of you who read this to pray to the creative power to whom you worship – God, Yahweh,
Allah, or simply Creator and Sustainer of humankind – to provide ongoing strength of will, of body, and of spirit, for our beloved Kristen and Michael, and for her whole universe of family and friends.
You can do her one additional honor right now, TODAY… If you have a child, a spouse or partner, a parent, or even just a special friend within the embrace of your arms, hug (and kiss, if you so desire) him or her and express that love and solidarity with all humankind. It is that sentiment, frequently to be called to our attention, which will enable each of us to embrace life to the fullest… one step at a time!

From a prayerful and loving father and mother, brother, and husband,

Dan and Sharon Mohn

Twitter  @danmohn1