Sunday, July 24, 2016

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our Story

Don and I were married in June of 1982 after a whirlwind romance - 6 months from our first date to the alter! We had a full, wonderful life including three children and a large extended family. Life was good. In 1998, Don suddenly became very ill and after much testing was diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C which he apparently had for many years, silently doing damage to his liver.

Our lives took a new turn and for 10 years, together we did what we had to do to keep Don healthy. We watched his diet, made sure he had adequate rest, and tried every treatment available to irradicate this virus - with no success.

On June 27, 2008, our lives were once again severely impacted. Don had some routine tests run earlier in the month and we were called home from vacation to get the results. The doctor explained that Don had hepatocellular carcinoma, primary liver cancer. His tumor marker was 55,000, the highest the doctor had ever seen in any patient AND, if that were not enough, Don had a portal vein thrombosis, a blood clot to his portal vein which is the main blood supply to the liver. The doctor explained only a miniscule amount of blood was flowing past the blood clot to Don's liver. I will never forget the look on the doctor's face when he said, "This is bad, very, very bad". We asked if a transplant was an option and he said Don was so sick he was not a candidate for a transplant. There was nothing that could be done. Don asked how long he had and the doctor said possbily 30 days but that this was so severe he could go home and die that very night. The doctor did offer a newly approved pill form chemotherapy but said it may take a while for the insurance company to approve Don for this medication and reiterated we may not have awhile. The doctor's words were honest but nonetheless brutal.

I remember that day so well, it makes me cry as I type these words. We were both dressed to go to work, ready for our lives to go on as ususal and instead, Don was in shock and I was gasping for breath, my body and mind crying out to God. I can honestly say, I did not pray that day, but I did cry out to God. "Please God, don't let this be true, this can't be happening".  We both quit our jobs and went home to break the news to our families. It was a bleak, grim, day in our lives.

My cries were heard and answered, the very next day we were introduced to Reliv. To say we were skeptical only mildly explains how we felt about what we were hearing. The girls of Reliv as we have come to call them, Marie in New Orleans, Maryanne in Seattle, and Cindy in Arizona, were on fire. They got us so much information in such a short time, our heads were spinning. They never accepted our skepticism and did not give up. It was so much information to process, but we listened to story after story then discussed what we heard. Our daughter would crawl in bed with us and listen to stories on the speaker phone, now there were three skeptical people staring at the phone!! Our last call one evening was Greg Hainer, a colon/liver cancer survivor and after hearing Greg's story we decided we would try Reliv...we were given hope after all, by people we had never met! We were able to get the product immediately and Don started taking Reliv on July 3, 2008, 6 days after his diagnosis.

After three days of three shakes a day, he said he did not know if the shakes were helping his cancer, but he knew something was happening. Pains in his back that he had for years after an old injury were suddenly gone. He could get out of bed without stretching and he had more energy. After a week on the shakes, he began chemotherapy, two pills of Nexavar twice a day. We were told to watch for specific side effects that could be severe. High blood pressure, large blisters on the hands and feet, and dry peeling skin were very common, as well as gastrointestinal upset and the more common side affect, hair loss. It was at this time we decided to become Master Affiliates with Reliv as we knew Don would continue to take large quantities of Reliv and we wanted to get the product at the best possible savings.

In seven years of daily chemotherapy, Don has had one instance of stomach upset. No blisters to speak of, no peeling skin, no hair loss!! He did struggle with high blood pressure in the beginning but with medication and Reliv, his blood pressure has remained normal. His doctor is very happy with his success thusfar.

Don's health has gradually improved. Every two to three months his blood is tested and a new tumor marker test (alphafetaprotein or AFP) is done. So far his results have been:

June '08 - 55,000;
September '08 - 3,600;
December '08 - 600;
February '09 - 398;
April '09 - 307;
June '09 - Everything remains the same!
August '09 - 163
November '09 - 131
February 2010 - 150
July 2010 - 149 -- NO EVIDENCE OF TUMOR/CANCER FREE!!!!!
August 2010 - Hepatitis C viral load has decreased by 75%!!!
September 2010 - No longer needs glasses for distance vision - his eyes have improved!
November '10 - 104 - Don's tumor marker continues to drop!
September '11 - 88.9 into the double digits!
The doctor is thrilled with Don's progress and discussed treating Don's Hepatits C. It was because of the Hepatitis that Don got the liver cancer so the doctor's thinking is get rid of the HepC and our chances for recurrence are much smaller. In 2012 he completed a 48 weeks of Victrelis therapy and cleared the HepC virus, but, unfortunately the virus returned soon after he completed the protocol.  While so many people were suffering the side effects of the Victrelis protocol, Don, did very well with the side effects (except the time he ran the cable installer off of our property!) He is now taking a course of Harvoni to eradicate the HepC from his blood and we will find out in November of 2015 if this protocol is successful.  Because of these HepC medications, Don's tumor marker has gone up, but we are hopeful that it will once again be on the decline once he is off of the Harvoni!!

Reliv has given Don over seven healthy, active years to spend with his family that we never dreamed would be the case. We have attended holidays, birthdays, weddings, and graduations as a family, and at one time, none of us believed that would ever be possible.

I have attached some pictures of Don through the months so you can see what a miracle Reliv has been to us.

August 2008 - This picture was taken at the Pensacola Naval Air Station - Don spent many hours at the NAS as a young boy and teenager. As a U.S. Air Force veteran, Don chose to be buried at the beautiful Barrancas National Cemetary at Pensacola NAS. We had taken a ride past the cemetery the morning this picture was taken and then went to the Naval Aviation Museum where he did not have enough energy to complete viewing the exhibits. Don had missed his shake that morning and knew he had made a mistake. He felt awful and was drained of energy. He has NEVER missed a shake since that day!!

October 2008. Visiting with our niece Nicole and her new husband, Joe, in Nashville, TN. We went on to spend a week in the Smokey Mountains. Reliv was right there with us the whole way! He likes his shakes blended and I found outlets throughout our trip to make sure he was happy!

November 2008. We spent Thanksgiving Day with Don's family in Century, Florida. Here, he and Ashley spend a few minutes with the horses.

December 2008. We hosted 25 to 30 people Christmas Day. We did all of the cooking and Don stayed right with me the entire day. He helped cook, serve, and clean up, all while being a gracious host!

The morning of May 16, 2009. Heading out to catch some fish! He caught five nice trout and had a good time fishing with Glenn Triche.

Before Don and our youngest son could go fishing they had to catch some bait so they threw out the trawling boards and caught some live shrimp!!! Last June I never would have dreamed we would have a picture like this a year later - the Blessings continue.

June 27, 2009 - One year ago today, Don was diagnosed with cancer and given 30 days or less to live. Today, we hosted our first Reliv Saturday Morning Basic Training. Last year at this time I could never have imagined this was possible. What a difference a year makes!!!

Don and I made the decision to become Master Affiliates two weeks after he began using Reliv. He was getting great results and we knew MA level would allow us to experience the greatest savings on the product he was consuming. We were strictly focused on Don's health and did not consider sharing Reliv with others. But as happens to so many, we felt a deep obligation to give back what we had received, hope when we really needed it. We started sharing one year after Don's diagnosis and we continue to share our wonderful results with Reliv at every opportunity.

August 13-15, 2009 Don and I attended the International Conference in St. Louis, MO and had the most wonderful time. We were finally able to meet the wonderful people that have helped us with Don's illness and I can tell you, there were quite a lot of tears shed. One year ago, these people took their time to help us get started on a product that we had NEVER heard of but that would change our lives physically and financially.

In the seven years that Don has been using Reliv, we have met hundreds of other people with stories of their own that were equally as remarkable as Don's story. There were thousands of people at the convention and at the dance on our last night Don sat with a strange look on his face gazing out at everyone as they had a good time. I asked him what he was thinking and he said, "Oh Lynette, there are still so many people I haven't spoken to yet"!!!! We never get enough of hearing of others success with Reliv.

How lucky were we to meet Greg Hainer and his wife Kay. Greg's cancer story was the story that made us realize that Reliv was the hope we were looking for. (Recently, Don was able to share his story on Greg's Sunday evening call...I guess we have come full circle!!!!)

We also met Ryan and Susan Boehme, a wonderful couple whose lives have been so enriched by Reliv. Their kind words and willingness to share meant the world to Don and I.

We met and visted with "Aunt Margie", her husband, and grandson Ryan. Before Reliv, Margie suffered with horrific migraines and Ryan with horrible back pain. It is so wonderful to be with people that understand the impact Reliv has made on our lives.

And last but not least, our hometown group. We brought a little bit of New Orleans to the Kalogris Foundation Walk and had a great time walking through the streets of St. Louis. The race/walk raised $47,000 for the Kalogris Foundation which feeds 42,000 starving children throughout the world. After the race, we saw pictures and heard testimony from Dr. Manno of the impact the Foundation has made on the lives of many, many children.

September, 2009 - enjoying his shake on Main Street, USA!!

February, 2010 Enjoying the spectacular Grand Canyon!!!

Fun in the snow!

Our greatest gift was realized when Don walked our daughter down the aisle on May 28, 2010, almost two years after his diagnosis.

An updated photograph of Don taken in January 2014 in the Great Smokey Mountains shows that he continues to do well! Our blessings continue!
Our lives have been so enriched by Reliv. We don't know where this story is going but, what we do know is we will never be without Reliv. Reliv was a gift shared with us during our darkest hour. In the beginning, I remember clearly saying that I one day hoped I would be able to share Don's story to give hope and good health to others. Today is that day.