Lynne and I first met when I was 6 years old. She was 7.. We then became best of friends, dressed alike, made forts in her backyard and even had our picture captured at Revere Beach by a Boston Globe photographer which landed in the newspaper. I had no idea at that age as to what she had already survived. She was a normal, healthy kid. Over 4 decades later we still talk on a weekly basis, celebrate holidays with our families and she still puts me in my place if she thinks I am wrong, (which isn’t too often.) She knows most of my deepest darkest secrets, and for a good meal she would probably tell you all of them too! She’s witty, she’s caring, she’s a ball breaker. And if she knows you are sick, she’s the first one on research and finding the best people to care for you. She says, “I’m more worried about you. I’m used to being sick but for you it’s different.”
Lynne will be 50 years old on May 28th. She wasn’t even expected to have lived past her childhood battle with Neuroblastoma when it was discovered at just the young age of 14 months old. At 16 months old she had her first surgery and then two years of chemo. She had a second encounter in the ring with her enemy at age 15 – Neurocarcinoma This resulted in close to another year of chemotherapy, radiation, wearing a wig, long weekends in the hospital being excruciatingly sick and praying for it to be over. Unfortunately after the hip replacement became infected and caused too many complications it was unable to be replaced. This has left her with a physical deformity and was told she would be confined to a wheelchair but by some superpower within her she has yet to ever be in one. Even though she earns this title of long term survivor, her heart, lungs and kidneys are severely compromised from long term effects of her many years of treatments, medications, surgeries. She has physical ailments and mental stress, which she miraculously handles. She continues to receive critically essential medications both self administrated as well as frequent hospitalized blood and iron infusion treatments. Constant doctors visits are like going to Starbucks for most of us.
In the early 1990’s Lynne was in a terrible accident where she was struck and run over by a truck in Boston. This caused more damage to organs, bones and her already compromised physical condition as well as traumatic night terrors for yea rs. I can recall when I arrived in the intensive care unit her mother, Rita gave them permission to let me come in. I will never forget her crying telling me she didn’t want to survive, that no one would want her because of her deformity and we cried and I told her she couldn’t leave me yet. That was over twenty years ago. Quintessentially, On Valentine’s Day 1997 Lynne married her husband Steve on the island of Barbados!
Through this all Lynne had remained fully employed with the American Cancer Society and then The Lymphoma Society as the Senior Advocacy Manager. She is a member of the ONE HUNDRED, Created and supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, the one hundred is an awareness and fundraising initiative that celebrates hope in the cancer community. Each year, we honor 100 Everyday Amazing individuals and groups — caregivers, researchers, philanthropists, advocates and volunteers from around the globe — whose commitment to the fight against cancer inspires us all to take action.
You can read more about her being a honoree of the one hundred and her advocacy below.*
She currently still volunteers at Massachusetts General Hospital, where you may see her photo on the wall with one of her doctors, and The National Kidney Foundation. She’s written grants and has been on Capitol Hill fighting for patient’s rights and out of control prescription costs as well as patient advocacy.
We thought that we may have had a resolution last year when my 9 week old nephew, J.C. passed of SIDS in April. 🙁 When my brother and sister in law knew that they had to say good bye they courageously decided upon organ donation. My brother and sister in law contacted Lynne immediately to see if she would accept his kidneys. I was already en-route to say my goodbyes to my nephew when Lynne had left me voicemails urgently demanding I called her before I got to the hospital. When I reached her on the phone, through a stupefied plethora of emotions she said she would agree accept J.C.’s kidneys if I agreed to it and immediately I responded that she HAD to please accept this gift. It would have been the most amazing gift an honor for us to have had someone we already consider an honorary family member to carry our tiny nephew’s organs. Unfortunately, his organs were too small and he was too young to have been a donor for her.
The time has come that Lynne now needs a kidney. We are doing all we can to get the word out to friends, family and strangers. People who are inspired to help others. Living donors and organ donors. I am currently in the process of the green light stage of being a donor. If I am not a match I am praying you, or someone you know will be. Donating is not just a gift, it’s the gift of life. It’s selfishly giving someone the chance to take another breath, to see another sunrise, to see the ones they love. And for the ones that love them, it gives them the greatest gift of all, keeping their loved one alive. If you lose a loved one and have the opportunity to have that loved one’s legacy live on, organ donation is the opportunity.
Lynne selfishly has done SO much for friends, family, strangers and patients. She has been pissed off at her own failing health when she thought that she couldn’t fly to Washington to advocate for patient rights. She’s someone I look up to. Her courage, her strength her determination through all of her adversities. Her ability to remain humorous and hopeful. Her humbleness in her courage to tell people she is in need of a LIFE SURVIVING situation has prompted me to spread the word.
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