I am a Vietnam Veteran who spent over forty years working in healthcare administration trying to assure that all Americans could access quality healthcare services. Having worked for state public health programs, hospitals, insurers and physician organizations I have been a champion of quality, cost effective healthcare.
I grew up in Medford, MA, and attended public schools. I left the Boston area to attend Ripon College, a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. In 1970 I entered the Army as a combat correspondent and photographer with the 1st Aviation Brigade headquartered in Long Binh, Vietnam.
I was the editor of the brigade magazine, regularly flying with helicopter units. During this time, I may have been exposed to Agent Orange, a defoliant chemical. At age 44 I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. I was given a year to a year and a half to live. Fortunately, with expert care from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, I received an experimental bone marrow transplant donated by my brother.
I battled through radiation and chemotherapy and have been blessed to be cancer free for thirty years! A by-product of the treatments used to fight the cancer left my kidneys impaired and functioning at a low, continually declining level. Over the years I have been treated for chronic kidney disease but have managed with a great support team to live a good quality life.
However, this past year my kidney function has declined to the point where I will most likely be starting dialysis soon. The machine can keep me alive until the day comes when I get a
transplant. I am on the kidney transplant list at Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital.
I had hoped that my brother who gave me his bone marrow would be the ideal donor. He was screened, but unfortunately did not qualify due to health reasons. A few close friends also stepped forward to be screened but were also disqualified, as was my wife.
I have lived a healthy lifestyle and aside from my kidney failure, I am otherwise physically fit. Along with the hard work and unwavering support of my loving wife, Debbie, I am dedicated to eating a kidney-friendly diet, getting exercise, and doing my very best to stay as healthy as possible under the circumstances.
It’s important for me to mention that an essential part of my life and my story is faith related. Being a person of faith has given me a perspective on life and has always been a source of strength that has helped me get through the many challenges that I faced in the past from Vietnam, to cancer, and now kidney disease. My faith remains strong despite this new challenge of kidney failure. I am hopeful that a heroic, caring person will come forward to give me the invaluable gift of continued life.