What is Med City Foundation? 10 facts I would like you to know.

I am incredibly thankful to my friends , family, and community who have supported Med City Foundation in so many different ways. It might be attending a fundraiser, or sharing my posts on Facebook, or just listening to me rant and carry on. However, I am amazed at how many of these people will later ask me, ” What is Med City Foundation?” or “What do you actually do?” I generally respond with my well rehearsed mission statement and a quick sentence or two about current projects we are working on. However, I don’t often feel like that is enough. So, today I am going to give you the “down and dirty” basics of this amazing organization and why it means so much to me with 10 quick facts:

  1. I, Kristina Hesby, opened Med City Foundation in March 2014. I am a nurse, with no business or non-profit leadership background.
  2. We are 100% volunteer-led with myself carrying about 75% of the workload, and our working board of directors supporting me with 25% of the work but 100% of the encouragement and love I need to stay motivated.
  3. We support any patient and their caregivers that are affected by blood cancers, which are leukemia, lymphoma or myleoma.
  4. My dad died from leukemia in 1995, I was nine years old, and I do this in his memory.
  5. We will give people cash assistance, however the majority of our assistance is in the form of gift cards to gas stations and restaurants.
  6. Patients can self-refer and request assistance, however we always confirm the diagnosis with someone from Mayo Clinic and most of our referrals come directly from the healthcare providers in the hospital .
  7. The blood cancer patients many times are here for months, due to chemo, stem cell and bone marrow transplants and then monitoring labs. Monitoring labs are the hardest for many of these patients because they need to come in maybe 1-2 times per week but the remaining time they are left in our community, with little to do, away from their loved ones.
  8. We do not qualify for many grants because we provide financial assistance, so most large grantors do not want to give us money, to just have us turn around and give it to someone else. Therefore, we depend 100% on our donors and fundraising events for our funding.
  9. In our first year, we served about a dozen patients, last year it was just over 30 patients, and this year it will be close to 35 or 40, however the type of assistance has changed dramatically (i.e. provided larger amounts of assistance as well as providing nights of stay versus just cash assistance).
  10. We lease two properties in town, an apartment in the 318 Commons Building (above the Loop) and a two-bedroom home on 11th Ave NE (near Quarry Hill Animal Hospital). The apartment is free for patients and the house is $750 per month. Both properties include all utilities, cable, internet, and are completely furnished with linens, paper products, and non perishable food items

There you have it. That was painful because I really have 100 things I want to tell you about Med City Foundation. Brendan Bush produced an amazing video last year that interviewed a few of the patients we have worked with and I think he did an amazing job of sharing the mission. You should check that out as well:

 

 

What is Med City Foundation? 10 facts I would like you to know.

Board Member Profile: Margaret Senn

Board Member profiles will be a bi-monthly feature of the men and women who help MedCity Foundation reach those in need within our community, spread the MCF vision and dedicate their time to support blood cancer patients and their families.

Full Name: Margaret Senn

Current title/company: Informatics Nurse Specialist at Mayo Clinic

Length of time on MCF Board: Founding board member 2014

How did you get connected with Med City Foundation and how did you become interested in its mission?

Meet Kristina at an Expo, had a friend who developed cancer and it was a good fit.

Margaret Senn

What is your current role within Med City Foundation?

Board member, Community Expo Coordinator

How do you hope to see Med City Foundation evolve over time?

It will grow and be able to fund more patients and families. Having our own house for these people would be a long term goal.  

What have you learned from being on Med City Foundation?

All of the hoops a non-profit has to go through to get that status.

What is the most rewarding part of being apart of Med City Foundation?

The people I work with and knowing we are helping those that need help.

What is your advice to people who want to become more involved? Volunteer your services and or your time.

Best moment on MCF board so far: Learning from the other board members

MargaretSenn2

Now, time for a few fun questions:

Morning or night person?: Morning

 Best piece of advice ever given: Remember the special times and forget the bad

 Perfect weekend?: At the cabin with husband and no other family

If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be and what would you order?: My mother, probably a salad.

Board Member Profile: Margaret Senn

Board Member Profile: Chad Behnken

Board Member profiles will be a bi-monthly feature of the men and women who help MedCity Foundation reach those in need within our community, spread the MCF vision and dedicate their time to support blood cancer patients and their families.

 Full Name: Chad Behnken

Current title/company: Think Mutual Bank–Business Advisor

Length of time on MCF Board: Joined 2015

ChadBehnken2

 How did you get connected with Med City Foundation and how did you become interested in its mission?

I got connected through Kristina and instantly became interested in the mission upon hearing about it.

What is your current role within Med City Foundation?

Board Member 

How do you hope to see Med City Foundation evolve over time?

I see the foundation growing steadily by creating more awareness which ultimately will allow more people to be served.

What have you learned from being on Med City Foundation?

That there is a need in our community that is not served that needs to be.

What is the most rewarding part of being apart of Med City Foundation?

Knowing that I am helping people that are in need.

What is your advice to people who want to become more involved?

Reach out to Kristina or a board member. There are so many ways to help and become involved, every little bit helps.

Best moment on MCF board so far: Learning about this wonderful mission and meeting and working with a wonderful team of board members.

Chad Behnken

 Now, time for a few fun questions:

Morning or night person?: Morning

Best piece of advice ever given: Be respectful of people as you never know what kind of personal battle they are currently going through.

 Perfect weekend?:  Spending time with my family. I am married with two small children 6, and 8, and time with them is very important.

 If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be and what would you order?: Jimmy Fallon. I like people that have a positive outlook on life and use that attitude to do good in the world. Ideally the dinner would take place in a pub with a great selection of pub food.

Board Member Profile: Chad Behnken

Board Member Interview: Cory Simonson

Board Member profiles will be a bi-monthly feature of the men and women who help MedCity Foundation reach those in need within our community, spread the MCF vision and dedicate their time to support blood cancer patients and their families.

Full Name: Cory Simonson                       

Current title/company: Broadway Residence

Length of time on MCF Board: 1 yr       

Cory Simonson      

How did you get connected with Med City Foundation and how did you become interested in its mission?

Hearing Kristina speak at a AM Expresso event hit home as my son Carter (age 7) was diagnosed with T-cell Leukemia in December of 2013. During these difficult times since Carter’s diagnosis, our family has experienced amazing support from friends, family, neighbors and even complete strangers. MedCity Foundation felt like a perfect opportunity to pay it forward.

 

What is your current role within Med City Foundation?

Board member

 

How do you hope to see Med City Foundation evolve over time?

I would like to see the support part of MedCity grow as I believe it is vital in the road to well- being.

 

What have you learned from being on Med City Foundation?

There are many giving and caring people in our world striving to make a difference.

 

What is the most rewarding part of being apart of Med City Foundation?

Knowing that a difference is being made in the lives of others during very challenging and trying times.

 

What is your advice to people who want to become more involved?

Please! There are so many ways that you can help and make difference.

Best moment on MCF board so far: The Blizzard Bash

 

Now, for some fun questions:

Morning or night person?: night

Best piece of advice ever given: Tomorrow is not promised

Perfect weekend?: On a lake fishing while spending time with my boys and wife

If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be and what would you order?: Donald Trump – Surf and Turf

 

 

Board Member Interview: Cory Simonson

Board Member Profile: Matthew Johnson

Board Member profiles will be a bi-monthly feature of the men and women who help MedCity Foundation reach those in need within our community, spread the MCF vision and dedicate their time to support blood cancer patients and their families.

Full Name: Matthew S. Johnson

Current title/company: Attorney/Rochester Business Law

Length of time on MCF Board: About a year.


Matt Johnson

 

How did you get connected with Med City Foundation and how did you become interested in its mission?

Was contacted by Kristina Hesby about the possibility of getting involved.

 What is your current role within Med City Foundation?

Board member.

 How do you hope to see Med City Foundation evolve over time?

 Greater resources to be able to help more people and have a greater reach.

 What have you learned from being on Med City Foundation?

I’ve learned that more people than I realized are affected by blood cancers.  Just having some of the terminology more on my radar had opened my eyes to how many people I know and who I am close to have been affected in one way or another.

 What is the most rewarding part of being apart of Med City Foundation?

The concrete results. As important as research, awareness, etc. are, and I hope we contribute to that as well, those contributions are less tangible than a gas card or a hotel room for someone that needs to travel to Rochester for treatment or something along those lines. It’s nice to know exactly how the money we’re raising is helping someone.

 What is your advice to people who want to become more involved?

 It’s a fun group. You may actually enjoy yourself.

 Best moment on MCF board so far: It’s either hearing about a success story of someone we helped or the Blizzard Bash. Tough to rank them.

 Now, for the fun questions:

Morning or night person?: Both and neither depending on the circumstances. Probably more of a morning person generally.

 Best piece of advice ever given: Control the things you can control and control your response to things you can’t.

 Perfect weekend?: 3-4 days; nice weather; not much planned; a couple of good things to eat and drink with my wife and then maybe a couple of good games on TV. Exciting stuff.

 If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be and what would you order?: Ben Franklin. What are the specials?

Board Member Profile: Matthew Johnson

Board Member Profile: Nick Lauer

Full Name: Nicholas Lauer

Current title/company: Enagic-Kangen Water

Length of time on MCF Board: 1 year

 Nick Lauer

How did you get connected with Med City Foundation and how did you become interested in its mission?

I first heard about the Med City Foundation at the ribbon cutting for the Chamber of Commerce in 2014. Kristina’s passion was infectious and I felt driven to help her on this mission. My grandmother passed away from leukemia in 1998 so I have a personal connection to this form of cancer.

 What is your current role within Med City Foundation?

Board member and random idea generator.

 How do you hope to see Med City Foundation evolve over time?

I would like to see this foundation become one of the premier non-profit organizations in the city of Rochester.

 What have you learned from being on Med City Foundation?

The hidden costs of treating cancer are extraordinary and a huge burden on the average family. Simple things like lodging can enact a significant financial toll on these families that already have so much on their plates.

 What is the most rewarding part of being apart of Med City Foundation?

Being able to offer hope to people that feel like they are in a hopeless situation.

 What is your advice to people who want to become more involved?

Look into serving on the board. If that’s too much of a time commitment, stay connected to the foundation on social media and volunteer at the various events throughout the year.

 Best moment on MCF board so far:

Successfully hosting the Blizzard Bash in the winter and seeing the joy of the guests as they were able to become more connected to the foundation.

 Now, for the fun questions:

Morning or night person?: Night person for sure. Sadly my current schedule dictates that I be a morning person.

 Best piece of advice ever given: When something goes wrong in life you can blame, cry, or take full responsibility.

 Perfect weekend?: Dinner and a movie with my wife and watching the Green Bay Packers win yet another game.

 If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be and what would you order?: Aaron Rodgers. I would wait to see what he orders and then act completely shocked that he just ordered exactly what I was going to get. Then I would smile and choke down a food I most likely wouldn’t like while making stimulating conversation with the greatest quarterback in the NFL.

Board Member Profile: Nick Lauer

Faith & Trust in the Face of Cancer with The Goslovich Family

The Goslovich family radiates strength, resilience and faith in all parts of life. After losing a son and brother, Joey, to Leukemia, and later on watching as husband and father, Eric, waged his own battle with Large B Cell Lymphoma, the family’s plans for the future took a turn no one ever wanted. However, instead of being plagued by fear, the family has only grown stronger. Marsha Goslovich tells us her family’s story.

Goslovich Family

Martha and Eric with their family.

Tell me about your family’s history with blood cancer and their diagnoses:

My husband, Eric, was diagnosed with diffused Large B Cell lymphoma w/ a triple hit in December 2014 (age 55).

Our youngest son was diagnosed with ALL w/ Philadelphia chromosome in April 1993 (age 2).

How did your family members find out they had blood cancer?

 While we were visiting our children in the Denver area at Thanksgiving 2014, Eric began to feel “sickish.” At first we thought it was related to the altitude change. After a couple days, it subsided, and by the time we returned to MN several days later, he was back to feeling basically normal. Two weeks later, Eric noticed a sizable lump in his abdominal area while lying in bed reading. We waited a couple days to see if perhaps it would go away. It didn’t, so we went in for a visit to our primary doctor. Upon examination, our doctor felt that it was some sort of large cyst and was quite confident it was not an actual tumor. He did order a CT scan to verify. Three days later, we met with our local surgeon who gave us the results of the CT scan. It showed a very large tumor, and the surgeon was interpreting it to be on the pancreas. He was quite confident it was pancreatic cancer. We live in a rural location, and thankfully, our surgeon said right away, “this is too big for me! Where do you want me to send you?” We were thankful for his honesty and for not wasting time! We requested Mayo. This was all on a Monday afternoon, and Christmas was that Thursday. Within the hour, we had appointments set up at Mayo with the gastro-intestinal oncology department for the following day.

The following afternoon, we sat in the office of one of Mayo’s gastro-intestinal oncology surgeons as he told us that Eric’s tumor was so huge (8#) and literally was wrapped around every internal abdominal organ, and it had totally occluded his inferior vena cava. It was inoperable!! Next step – biopsy of the tumor to secure an accurate diagnosis for determination of chemo treatment. That could not be done until the day after Christmas. We were so blessed to have friends in the Rochester area who invited us over to their home to spend Christmas day with them. After having a bone marrow and tumor biopsy the following day, we were back on the road that Saturday for our six-hour drive home. The waiting was almost unbearable. The next Tuesday we received a call from Dr. Thomas Habermann in hematology at Mayo. It was then that we learned that Eric did not have pancreatic cancer but rather a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He said that we would be contacted shortly with appointment times to be back down at Mayo. (Remember that it is now the New Year holiday.) After three days of not hearing anything, I couldn’t wait any longer, so I called Mayo to see what the delay was. Eric was getting sicker and having more pain by the day. We got our appointments set up for the next Monday. We still really had no idea what to expect.

The next Monday we sat in Dr. Habermann’s office as he explained to us the severity and gravity of Eric’s condition. His cancer was staged at IV-B and had some properties of Burkett’s (not sure on the spelling of this), the most aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma there is. “This is very serious,” Dr. Habermann told us; “we don’t have much time. We don’t even have weeks, only days to work with.” I was days away from losing my husband!! Eric will receive one of the harshest chemo regimens – CODOX-M / IVAC.

He sent us immediately to be admitted to Methodist Hospital and begin the chemo protocol ASAP, which included four rounds of chemo, then followed immediately with an autologous stem-cell transplant. We lived in Rochester for 6 ½ months.

 

As of now, Eric is still in remission!!

 

______________________

 

For our son, diagnoses took a bit of persistence. Joey had been sick a fair amount throughout the fall/winter. Each time I took him in to the clinic, they treated him for some sort of typical young-child infection. Finally, our doctor noticed his paleness and ordered a simple CBC. Joey’s blood counts showed that his white count was “off the chart” and his hemoglobin and platelets were very low. Our doctor came in to tell me this and said that he wasn’t sure yet, but this could either be a virus of some sort, or as serious as leukemia. Further testing that night at our local hospital revealed the worst of any parent’s fears – it was leukemia. The next day we were on our way down to the U of M.

He responded well to chemo and was in remission quickly. But, because of the Philadelphia chromosome, Joey would need a bone marrow transplant. Our oldest son, age 5 at the time, was an identical match and would be Joey’s donor.

Despite the intense chemo and TBI, the donor marrow did not engraft. We were told that his leukemia would come back, we just don’t know exactly when. About 18 months later, it was back, and we went through the exact same treatment, including the BMT. This time he had 100 percent engraftment, but because of the Philadelphia chromosome, the doctors told us this is a very difficult one to get rid of, if it’s going to come back, it will do so within the next six months.

At Joey’s six-month check-up, the worst was confirmed – the ALL was back. We were forced to make the most difficult decision a parent is called on to make. We had tried the ultimate treatment twice, and it still came back. No more treatment – just transfusions / medications to make him as comfortable as possible. (Again, this was right at Christmas time.)

God took our little Joey home to Heaven on March 1 – two days before his fifth birthday.

 Can you talk about the emotional toll that accompanies blood cancer treatment?

This is one of those questions that words are really not adequate to answer. Whenever going through life-threatening illness of any sort, your heart is broken as you watch a person you love more than life itself go through and endure such agony. I often wished I could go through it for him.

I never want to take away from what my husband went through, but I must point out that a caregiver goes through everything with them – at least I did. There were some nights when Eric was inpatient and, in order to get some rest, I spent the night at a friend’s house. Many nights I did not sleep well, only to find out when I went back to the hospital the following morning, Eric had not slept well either.

How has your family worked to overcome the emotional and mental challenge of treatment?

We are almost six months post-transplant now, and we are still dealing with the mental and emotional effects. Our faith in God is the only thing that has taken us through this trial. He has been with us every step and minute of this journey.

I have been asked on occasion how this has affected our marriage. Thankfully, I can smile and say that it has only strengthened our marriage. It has drawn me and Eric closer together, and we are both so thankful for that!

 What did you do to stay positive or take your mind off of cancer?

Again, our faith and trust in God is what we focused on. The old adage, “There is always something good to be found in a situation” is so very true. We focused on looking for the good things in each and every step … and they were there!! We always need to focus on the fact that things can always be worse!

 Who along your journey helped you get through the challenges and what was their impact?

God, first and foremost!! We never felt that He had abandoned us, and we know that that will NEVER happen!!

We also have several friends and an uncle who live in Rochester. They allowed us to stay in their homes during our 6 ½ months of treatment. That was a blessing beyond explanation!

Our friends and church family at home were so good to write and send us reminders of their support, as well as financial assistance.

 Do you have a motto that you live by?

“The Lord is good; a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who put their trust in Him.” ~Nahum 1:7

“You [God] will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” ~Isaiah 26:3-4

 How did you learn about Med City Foundation?

While at Mayo, we visited the Cancer Education Center, and I inquired about any organization that offered support – in-person and financial – for lymphoma patients. We were privileged to go to one of the monthly support group meetings of Med City. (Unfortunately, our schedules did not allow us to visit more than once.) Meeting Kristina and a couple of the other board members was very enlightening! I truly wish I lived closer geographically to be able to volunteer!

What advice do you have for anyone who has recently received a cancer diagnosis or a diagnosis in their family?

If given the opportunity, we would definitely not have chosen these things, but the choice we did have was how we would react to these major life changes.  Going through trials in life are going to change us one way or another.  We are given the responsibility to choose whether we will allow this trial to infiltrate us with bitterness and harden our heart, or whether we will go through it without fighting and having a goal of glorifying God and becoming more like Him.  The latter is definitely God’s purpose in the trials He entrusts us with.  So, we are thankful for this past year’s trials because of being given the awesome privilege of getting to know our God better and see His goodness in ways that would otherwise not be possible.  Nothing trumps God’s sovereignty!!  “Oh Lord, You’ve been so good to me; … the blessings that You’ve shown to me; Your presence You’ve made known to me – my heart can never thank You enough.”  (~Frank Garlock)

 

Faith & Trust in the Face of Cancer with The Goslovich Family