Jun 03 2010

Milestones, and Friends We’ve Met Along the Way

Today marks a milestone for me that I didn’t expect to reach so soon.

When I first put this blog online, I included a picture of myself under the “My Story” section of the blog. It’s a picture of me standing next to my bike on the banks of the French Broad River in Hot Springs, North Carolina. Three great friends and I had just completed several days of camping alongside the river, riding through the twisting back roads of Western North Carolina, and laughing wildly at our misadventures which, invariably, are too numerous to keep track of. This is a trip we make usually twice a year. I didn’t know at the time that the wife of one of those friends would be my donor, and would put my life back on a happy, healthy course. I also didn’t know at the time when I might return to that campsite again, as my condition had worsened to the point that plans for future activities were becoming more and more speculative.

When the date of my surgery started to take shape three months ago, we began working on a “Plan B” which, although it kept the trip intact, relegated me to a car, possibly even just as a passenger. In early February, just a few short weeks before the transplant, I even wondered if the passenger role might be more than I could manage. Despite my concerns, we put the trip on the calendar: June 3rd. It seemed too soon, but we needed to pick a date in order for the four of us to keep our calendars cleared.

So here we are on June 3rd, and as I’m waking up this morning, I’ve got the same nervous energy that I recall having as a child on Christmas morning, because I’m not going as a passenger. I’m not even going in a car. My bike is packed and ready to roll, just as it was last year the morning of that season’s ride to Hot Springs, and it’s 101 days since the transplant.

So, in just a few short hours, the aptly dubbed “Panel of Experts” will begin rolling down the Blue Ridge Parkway. While I’m enjoying this milestone in my recovery, I’m deeply mindful of two other friends who, on this same morning, are at earlier stages of their journey. Like me, they each have Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. They each could use a few extra prayers this week. Let me quickly introduce them to you, and ask that you take one minute out of your day to pray for them, their families, and the team of medical professionals that will help return them to their rich lives.

Kirk Franz: Kirk was transplanted two weeks ago today having received The Call late on the evening of his birthday informing him that a donor was available. He was having a lightning fast recovery and was even discharged to home less than a week after the transplant. Almost immediately after arriving home, he received some troubling news that his pathology had come back suggesting a high possibility of cancer. He was immediately scheduled for a Whipple Procedure, a very challenging procedure that makes the transplant look like a picnic. Kirk is strong as an ox, though, and has fought every step of the way. Just yesterday, he returned to surgery for the third time in two weeks to fix a leak that had occurred during the Whipple Procedure. He’s still got a tough road ahead, but if you follow Kirk’s journey at this link you’ll meet his wife and three beautiful daughters, and you’ll see that his positive attitude and mental/physical strength stack the odds in his favor.

Martha Hunt: Martha and her daughter Ashley Hunt Kirkland will be going into surgery today at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Ashley will be Martha’s donor, so if you’re sending up a prayer for Martha and Ashley, please also think of Ed (Martha’s Husband and Ashley’s Dad) and Bryan (Martha’s son and Ashley’s brother) who have the unimaginably difficult task of waiting today. You can follow Martha and Ashley’s progress on their blog site, Virginia is for Livers.

Thanks for thinking of these friends, and if you’ve got time for one more homework assignment (which you do), take one minute to encourage someone you know to consider being an organ donor.

Bon voyage!


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  1. Ken Burger

    have a fantastic trip filled with adventures so full of life you can’t begin tell us about them! God is good and goes with you … and will be with Kirk, Martha, families and support teams.

  2. Kerry Mossler

    Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

    I will pray for your friends and their families.

    Have a blast! Kerry

  3. Kathleen


    Keep a favorable wind at your back! Have a great trip but be careful and watch out for the other guy!

    Kathleen and staff at Culina!

  4. Jon Caldwell

    Hey Bill,

    You guys should come towards Alabama one year. Maybe I could join you for a few legs of the trip.

  5. Carol Johnston VCUHS

    Bill- I am so happy to hear that you are able to ride again and doing so well! You guys enjoy the trip!

    Will send prayers everyones way for strength to keep on pushing through- there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    btw- be safe on that bike:)

  6. chris skorcz

    Bill, enjoy the trip. We’ll remember your friends in our prayers, as we have you.

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