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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Canada's Transplant Games 2012 - Gear Up for CF

Alberta Contingent at 2012 Transplant Games - all recipients of organ transplants

Most everyone that knows Sandra and I knows about our kids, Shannon and Blair and their families. Family has always been most important to us. Our daughter-in-law Sandra (Sandy) has garnered a lot of attention from our friends and family because of her battle with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). 

Well there is another side to that story as well and that is the fact that her original lungs had deteriorated to the point she needed an organ transplant or she would die in the near future. Simple as that. It was a frightening time for the whole family on both sides, and yet brought out some amazing characteristics and qualities. There is always a silver lining.

During the wait for an organ donor Sandy was on ever increasing amounts of oxygen fed by tank. And while her every move was incredibly difficult and exhausting she remained incredibly positive about her journey. Her attitude was not lost on anyone.

There came times when Blair would have to travel for work, and, Sandy would have to accompany him, since he was her primary care provider for her CF. During one such lengthy time in Edmonton she was alone most of each day while he worked. Chandos Construction, his employer by the way through this whole ordeal has been an amazing company for the compassion and leadership it has shown in support of Blair and by extension Sandy.

Our daughter Shannon decided to pack up her 3 kids (all under 10 yrs of age) and go to Edmonton in support of Blair and Sandy, on one occasion in early July 2010. Jim, her husband would also be very supportive of her efforts. She would take on the role of tour director, one day taking them all plus her own grandmother to the High Level Bridge for a ride on the old streetcar. Then, another day, loaded with 10 large bottles of oxygen, to take Sandy to Fort Edmonton. Of course the kids were always along and not always getting along, but, the arguments were positive and over fighting to see who could pull her oxygen tank for her.

On July 25, 2010 the call came for Sandy. At 02:10 am we received our notification that she was headed to Edmonton for her new lungs. I marvel every time I drive back to Alberta at how could I have ever driven all the way to Edmonton in one day arriving just after she went into surgery. After 7 1/2 hrs of surgery she would stay a scant 2 days in ICU, then only 12 more days in a recovery unit at the U of A hospital before being released. Her recovery story is remarkable.

Sandy and friends at Games
Today Sandy is taking part in the 2012 Canada Transplant Games being held in Calgary. Over 200 athletes with one common characteristic, they have an organ transplant, compete in a series of sports. She is part of the Alberta Team. The importance of this huge. It illustrates the lives that have been saved through organ donation, and that the recipients can lead healthy and productive lives. In our daughter-in-laws case, she has been so inspirational with her positive attitude that she infects everyone she meets. 
A Gold Medal in Golf

Our grandson Kaden, for one, has taken to campaigning for his own cause, The Children's Cottage in Okotoks. This year he was featured in the Western Wheel newspaper for his fundraising efforts that raised over $2000.00 at a skate-a-thon. This is now his third year of giving up receiving birthday gifts and in lieu asking his friends to donate to the children's cottage. Not only does he give up his gifts but he gets his friends to skate with him and fund raise for the Cottage. 25 of them skated 1000 laps in one hour.  Don't you think he was inspired by his mom and dad and his uncle and aunt? Link to article:

And Blair continues his role of fund raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. For the second year in a row he has ridden Vancouver to Banff in the Gear up 4 CF ride. A gruelling 1200 km trip over 9 days. While last year he raised the most funds as a single fund-raiser this year he was outdone by another new rider to the series. 3 of them raised over $20,000.00 each  for Cystic Fibrosis. Blog written by Blairs' roommate. . In addition he and his friends have been tireless at raising funds locally in Calgary during the Walk for CF in late May, with 2010 receiving the award for most funds raised.
Riley, Abbey, Sandy, Blair and Kaden

Our Daughter Shannon with  our son Blair
So the lesson that keeps repeating itself to me is one that an old priest said to me one day when I was a teen, "You have to continue to lead when you think no one is looking". ...ergo because obviously others notice.

On July 25th, 2012 Sandy will celebrate having her new lungs for two years because, someone led while no one was looking, by filling out their donor card.

Our whole family would like to thank the family of that donor, whoever they may be. Imagine the impact that selfless action will have over her lifetime. A true legacy.

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