Candlelight Vigil

  • Dates: 20 Sep, 2014
  • Location: Bella Vista, AR, United States of America
  • Contact: Olivia
  • How to find us: Lake Bella Vista Walking Trail- from Town Center on Arkansas 340/Lancashire Boulevard): Take U.S. 71 south. Turn left on Dartmoor Road. Turn right on Lambeth Road.
  • Website: gauthierfamily@cox.net
My name is Olivia and I am going to tell you a story about my mom, Candy. She and my dad are high school sweethearts that have spent their lives together- raising a family, working, and traveling. They are still working together, only now they are working everyday to help Mom get the care she needs to fight Pulmonary Fibrosis- something none of us had ever heard of before last year.

Mom is 58 years old and was a lifelong smoker before her heart attack 4 years ago this February. That day, both her and my dad quit smoking and never looked back. Mom performed cardiac rehab with family by her side and seemed to recover like a trooper. We noticed some residual breathing problems, but thought it was because she was out of shape from the surgery, maybe from illness, possibly her COPD was getting a little worse, or potentially the weight gain from quitting smoking, etc. There was always an excuse for why she seemed to be short of breath all the time and we put it to the back of our minds.

Another couple years went by and Mom and Dad did as much traveling as they could. They have always had a little wanderlust in their blood (okay, a lot) and the need to see as much of the world as they can. They realized their dream by getting a motor yacht and exploring the Caribbean islands. Living on the boat for 6 months of the year was heaven for them, however, every time they came home it was more and more obvious that something was very wrong with Mom. She was increasingly breathless and having more trouble with her heart each time. It was found that she needed a stent last year and that was when she was referred to a pulmonologist for the continued breathing issues. After some testing, the pulmonologist gave Mom and Dad that dreaded diagnosis- PULMONARY FIBROSIS.

Mom and Dad did what many would do, ignore it and pretend it didn't exist! Of course, we did not let them do that and kept asking and prodding. When they were ready to face the painful reality of what that diagnosis meant, and when Mom needed to, they came back and started the fight. Mom and dad made the difficult decision to sell their boat and move back home for right now so we can all be part of helping her through the next part of their journey. This is not a pretty disease and has ugly days, but there is one good thing it has done. It has made everyone realize how precious time and life is. Do not take anything for granted and treat every day as if it were your last.

Having Pulmonary Fibrosis and COPD is difficult because treating one may make the other one worse. It is a very delicate balancing act and everything has to be done with the thought that numbers matter. What are her pulse oxygen numbers, how much oxygen is left in the tank, what time was it that she last ate or took her medicine? Will she have enough oxygen to get to this destination and back? Mom's needs have changed a lot in the last year, but everyone has changed along with her. It is a learning process and an ever changing one at that.

There is no cure for Pulmonary Fibrosis and there are no medications to cure it. The only thing that can be done is a lung transplant. We went to Miami, Florida for a second opinion and found out that mom is at the point where she needs a lung transplant, but is not a candidate for one at this time for multiple reasons, the main one being her weight.

She is committed to losing weight so we can find another transplant clinic that will take on her high risk case and find a pair of lungs to get her through the next many years so her and dad can continue their quest to explore more of the islands and any other part of the world they decide to see. We know it will not be an easy road, but know that together we can face anything.

If you'd like to support our efforts please visit our First Giving page. for updates please visit our Facebook page.

We hope you will join us on 9/20 at 7pm at the Lake Bella Vista Walking Trail!
Olivia and Family
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