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.

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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

Finding a purpose

As an oncology nurse and through my work with the patients at MedCity Foundation, I find myself exhausted at the end of most days. Exhausted and yet wound up; trying to process how I could have helped my patients with their pain more that day during my shift, or how will we get funding for next month so MedCity Foundation can keep going, etc. I know I don’t hide my internal struggles well, as my husband and mother are quick at ask, “what is wrong?” But then thankfully there are moments to center me and people who remind me that good work is being done and we will keep going!

Last December I met Josh and his wife while they were in town for Josh’s treatment. We were just kicking off our Winter Celebrations program to provide gifts and grant wishes to patients and their families around the holidays. They were so grateful and shared pictures of their amazing family together opening presents that we were able to provide by partnering with an amazing group of nurses from the Mayo Clinic.

Fast forward a few months later and I am having one of my chaotic days, running around being a mom and getting stuff done at the MedCity Foundation office. In fact, it was March 11th, our two year anniversary! I was stressed though that we weren’t on track to meet our goals for this year, and how behind I was on emails, and how to get the next fundraiser off without a hitch. Then it happened….I found out Josh had died. I knew he wasn’t doing well and might be going to hospice, but it still stopped me, in my tracks, holding my son in my kitchen while trying to read through email before the mac n’cheese boiled over. And I cried. I cried not just because Josh was gone, but because during the last conversation I had with him, he told me about how happy he was and lucky to have time with his family in the next few weeks. He told me to keep doing what I was doing and to love every moment of it. I hadn’t been loving every moment; I was annoyed and bothered by so many moments throughout the day. I held my breath impatiently while my three year old insisted on brushing her hair on her own, taking twice as long as I would have if she would just let me do it! I was annoyed at work when I would sit down to chart, only to hear another call light go off, or realize I was late with a medication. These were moments I needed to love, like Josh told me to, and not just rush through.

I am so lucky that I get to watch my daughter brush her hair in the morning and she is healthy and spirited enough to do it! I am honored and privileged that complete strangers trust me to care for them and be apart of their personal lives in such an intimate way. I miss Josh, even though I only knew him briefly, but I thank him for that reminder that I needed, right when I needed it, that on this St. Patrick’s Day, I am lucky.

-Kristina, President & Founder

You can watch our video, highlighting Josh, here.

 

Finding a purpose