George’s Journal

Thanks for visiting the site. I mentioned a few weeks ago a feeling of tightness/bulkiness in my lower right abdomen. It was very concerning because it felt similar to the menacing tumor that had threatened my life. I noticed the sensation in mid-September, and discussed with Dr. Chen: (1) Is it likely the cancer had returned? He said “no;” (2) Is it possible the cancer had returned?  Dr. Chen, “yes;” (3) When he examined me, did he feel any sign of a tumor?  He said “no, but that’s not conclusive;” (4) If not a tumor, what could it be? “Could be scar tissue, could be sore muscles (from physical therapy); (5) Should I have a PET-CT scan?  He said “it’s a bit early, since you just had one 6 weeks ago, but let’s go ahead and find out for sure.”  You have to find out.

No matter how much you try not to worry, it’s always stressful when confronted with a PET-CT scan, and awaiting the results. Since my BMT, I’ve had 3 scans, June 11th, August 11th and October 8th.  I was extremely pleased to learn on October 12th, that the result was #4, “muscle re-growth, related soreness.” Happy 85th Birthday Dad (John V. Ghindia)!

Here’s a shout out to my Mom (Sue Ghindia). As highlighted before, my family was in town recently for the Tallman reunion. In packing for the return to Michigan, Mom grabbed a suitcase and pulled a muscle in her side. Not the thing to do before getting on a 5-hour flight. One thing led to another, and Mom contracted shingles. She’s been in the hospital a couple times, in a lot of pain. Fortunately Mom is feeling better and on the mend. She’s always the first to comfort and nurture others; please join me in wishing her a speedy recovery. Love you Mom!

TODD LARSEN….A GREAT PERSON, FRIEND, TEACHER AND COMMUNITY LEADER

It greatly saddens me to report that Todd Larsen, a Northpark community neighbor (Irvine) and fellow BMT recipient, passed away Saturday morning. Todd had endured an incredibly tough battle with leukemia and numerous infections and viruses, including pneumonia. He was a tough, courageous, “can do” guy. Todd was a fixture in Northpark, with his beautiful wife, Kelly, and “almost 2” son, Garrett.  He masterfully coached the Northpark Riptides swim team (100 or so kids) for 8 years, and taught music to many, particularly children and teenagers. Todd was a very gifted, giving individual, always game to help. Many kids were taught life lessons by Todd, who will fondly be remembered as “Coach Todd.”

I remember meeting Todd several years ago at the Irvine Swim League Championships. There were about 2,000 kids, 20+ teams, and hundreds of adults at this annual summer event.  Eva and Jacquelyne were swimming for the Heritage Park Seals.  What grabbed my attention were all the Coach Todd Rocks! signs and banners plastered all over Woollett Aquatic Center and surrounding grounds. This Todd was truly the rock star of the meet!

Todd was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in September 2009. ALL is an aggressive form of leukemia that is most commonly found in children. On March 2nd, Todd received an allogeneic bone marrow transplant (unrelated donor) – same type of as me.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t well enough to be discharged, and was still at City of Hope in May when I was there.  We were on the same floor (6th), at opposite ends of the building.

Most days, during my month-long stay, I would slowly walk past his room a couple times during my “2 laps around the floor” escape, and peak my head in. Todd was usually sleeping, and/or not feeling well. I could relate. While I didn’t know Todd that well, we shared a kinship because of our similar health struggles. He was the type of guy you would like to have a beer (Guinness) with, a very cool dude! After my discharge, I was pretty wrapped up in my own recovery (which you’ve inspired!), but it was easy to notice the community rallying for Todd and Kelly. There were numerous fund raisers, blood drives and morale boosting events. Truly extraordinary! Todd was recognized in July as a great example of ethical leadership with the Leaders in Integrity Award in Newport Beach.

In August, I was troubled to learn Todd was still at COH. After his BMT, he was only out of the hospital a few days, dealing with one infection/virus on top of another. The post-BMT immune system recovery is complicated. After an out-patient appointment with Dr. Chen, I stopped by Todd’s room.  He was down the hall in a group physical therapy session. I found him, and we spent a moment visiting between exercises. His eyes were joyful, and spirit engaging – typical for Todd. Later, I was delighted to hear a bone marrow biopsy showed he was “cancer free!”

However, Friday late afternoon, John Fabris forwarded an email from Susan Ingalls. Todd’s condition had worsened. He was in intensive care with extremely serious infections.  Doctors said he might not make it through the weekend. Some close friends were organizing a prayer vigil at the Northpark pool – Todd’s domain. Cheryl and I attended. It was an amazing outpouring of love by children and adults. There were tears…and some laughter. Todd was a powerful bond for all. We held candles and prayed for God’s will, asking for Todd’s recovery and healing.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t in God’s plan for Todd. It’s a gross understatement to say Todd Larsen will be missed. This quote from one of his blogs captures Todd’s essence, “I must tell every one of the kids that I have coached or taught over the years how much I miss you. You are the reason I do what I do. I love working with kids and I really miss being a part of their lives as I go through this.”

A good man…taken way too soon. Todd is now in our Lord’s Kingdom of Heaven, free of pain and suffering. God bless and comfort Kelly, Garrett, their family, and Todd’s army of close friends. Please remember them in your prayers. To learn more about Todd, visit: www.ToddRockinLeukemia.com or www.toddrockinleukemia.blogspot.com. Rest in peace my friend.

Each day is a blessing. I wake up every morning thanking God for “today.” As always, Cheryl and I cherish your prayers, friendship, love and generosity.

God bless you and yours,

George

…”With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)


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