Pay it Forward

Isn’t it amazing the difference a child can make in one’s life? For everyone I have ever known that has become a mother, one of the common themes is that they never truly knew love until they had a child. And for many, that child’s love is what opens their heart back up to the world, to hope, to God. But who would have guessed that a little child’s action could set into motion the gift to Pay it Forward?

 

I was just given the most amazing gift I think anyone has ever done for me. (Well, besides the obvious of my parent’s giving me life and Christ dying on the cross for me). Some of my family – the Campen/Ollard clan decided this year for Christmas that instead of giving each other gifts they would do something meaningful for someone else. And I was that someone else. Never in a million years would I have ever guessed someone or a group of people would do something so impactful in my life. My Aunt, Uncle, Cousins, their Spouses, Kids and Dogs (the entire Campen/Ollard clan) all got together and set up a medical seed fund for me. Its an account that anyone can contribute to and hopefully over time grow, gain interest and be there to help pay for my medical bills when I need it. My greatest fear in this life is that the day will come when I can’t afford insurance or my medical treatments. And for me, that could mean going back into a wheelchair or me not being able to protect my heart and keep it pumping.  I’m not scared of death (man I even challenge it at times…), I’m not scared of spending the rest of my life alone – I’m scared of needing medicine or some treatment and not having the money to afford it. And because I all too often allow my pride to get in the way, I would never ask my family for money. Now don’t get me wrong, I know my parents and my sister would give me anything I needed – they have offered time and time again. But I would still never ask, and never take.

 

On Thursday I went to see my cardiologist and get an update on how my heart is doing. The news came back that my heart is getting worse, not better. And there is a good chance my MS meds may be the cause, again. I damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I don’t know how, but these two demons inside of me battling for my soul (MS and CHF) are going to have to find a way to co-exist, without killing me. I have been working so hard to follow a strict low sodium diet, careful not to push myself too much (although my parents would disagree). But I am human, I am 31-yrs old and I need to just let loose and have fun sometimes as well. So for everyone who has been wondering if I can just take a pill and this go away – the answer is very clearly NO. Every decision I make – how much I sleep, how I sleep, every piece of food I eat, what I drink, how much or little I drink, if I am too stressed, how much I exert myself in a day directly effects my heart. It is no longer a matter of simply making the decision each day that I will get out of bed, regardless of if I am walking or not (which was the last 12 years of my life). I have to make the choice to live everyday. It is now having to make the choice everyday to get up and LIVE. And consciously make the decisions that are right for my heart’s health instead of what my brain may want to do (like thinking its okay to have just one Jack and Coke, or splurge here and there and have that fried chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A). I slip up and my heart pays the price. While my heart has gotten worse, the good news is that we don’t feel it is irreversible. And the humbling lesson I have learned is that maybe, just maybe I am not invincible.

 

So now my point as to how these two events come together. I am a firm believer that God works in funny ways. As I said before, never in a million years would I have ever guessed that a group of people would do something like this medical fund for me. This fund has laid the foundation to take away my greatest fear in life. And the simple words of saying thank you will not do it justice. What set this ball in motion was the actions of my cousin’s daughter, Alex, who decided to give her birthday money to the local animal shelter instead of buying toys for herself. That selfless act inspired a family to give me the gift of life. See, all of this came at a point when I feel I could have just given up and thrown in the towel on this fight. And at a time where I am fiercely fighting my insurance company to cover my medical claims – they have now decided to deny every one of my insurance claims dealing with my heart and my MS. (I must interject a side note here, I ask that you take that statement of ‘throwing in the towel’ with a grain of salt – literally. It’s really easy to sit on the sidelines and judge how someone can just give up or say they are going to give up. We all know that I will never truly give up, but don’t think the thought doesn’t pass thru my mind at times. “Oh you’re too young to give up Lindsey.” “You are such a fighter” “This too shall pass”. Yeah, well come live a day in my hell sometime and then you can appreciate that statement. When the core of who you are gets constantly tackled, and when you are told the very things that make you feel alive in this world you have to kiss goodbye, then you can judge that statement.) If the Campen/Ollard clan believes enough in me to do this selfless act, then I will believe enough in myself not to let them down – ever. No matter what the price, no matter what the personal consequences are in my life (another blog for another day..) I will make the right choices for my heart’s health; I will make the choice everyday to not just get out of bed but to LIVE in the manner that will keep me alive. If a child can act so selflessly, then I have no right to act selfishly. And I will keep this ball moving forward.

 

First, if anyone wants to know what to get me for my birthday or Christmas, or any other holiday you feel you want to buy me a present, then make a donation into this medical fund. The way it is set up, anyone can donate to it, but only I and my Aunt Trisha can make withdrawals. And the money can only be used for medical bills and treatments. I don’t want anyone to think I am going to run off to Mexico and drink myself to death off tequila with this money. If you would like to know how to make a deposit, send me an email (lindseybowyer@gmail.com) and I will give you the instructions. It’s done anonymously, so I will never know who or how much you deposit unless you decide to tell me.

 

And now about keeping this ball rolling……
Again, the simple words of “thank you” cannot do this gift justice. So here is how I am saying thank you to the Campen/Ollard Clan. I promise that I will do everything in my power to stay healthy and to live – no matter how bad it gets, no matter how tough it may be. But I will also pass this gift you have given me on to as many people as I can.

 

The first is to my cousin Jeanie. I am walking with her on March 7th to raise money for MARR – a treatment facility for addiction that saved Jeanie’s life. I was so honored to be with her about a month ago when she gave her 15-month sobriety speech. Listening to her battles in life, the simple fact that she is still alive after all she has been thru – is true strength. The fact that she had to get up everyday, look her demons straight in the face and not only say no, but make the decision everyday to live and stay alive is a testament to her willpower and determination, but also to the fact that we can do all things thru Christ! This treatment facility saved Jeanie’s life. I am very selfish in saying this, but they gave me my cousin back. And so I am walking because I am so damn proud of Jeanie, to remind her to be proud of herself and continue this fight, and to help raise money so that others that battle addiction can get the help they need and want, but may not be able to afford it. If you would like to make a donation for the walk, here is a link to the flyer à http://www.marrinc.org/calendar_upload/WRCRegFlyer09.pdf  Just send a check made out to MARR, Inc to the address on the flyer. And in the “For:” section on your check, write For Jeannie H!! Check out their website, there are other events coming up that you can also participate in.

 

The second, (and by no means the last… – this is just the start of things…) is a Benefit for Jen. I don’t know if this link will work if you are not on facebook à http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=129280365061&ref=share
Jennifer is a friend I went to high school with. Not too long ago she was on her way to Asheville to pick up her son and stopped to help a stranded motorist.  While helping she was struck by a car. Fortunately her life was spared, but she is a single mom who now cannot work and needs multiple surgeries to recuperate. This benefit is to raise money for her medical and living expenses. It’s March 19th from 6-10pm at Zen in downtown Greenville, SC. If you cannot make the event, you can still donate money to help Jen. If you do not live in Greenville or cannot attend A Benefit for Jen at Zen event you can still help out by making a direct donation via paypal or mail:
Paypal:
http://www.paypal.com-Then send to email address @ fullmoonkayaking@aol.com
Mail:
P.O. Box 743 Simpsonville SC 29681. Make check payable to Jennifer Benedict.
ALL donations are to help Jennifer with her living expenses & med bills.

I’m trying to rearrange my schedule so I can be in Greenville for that date. Please come join me, or help me in raising money for Jen. She did a selfless act for a complete stranger and is now fighting for her life.

 

In spite of the life altering diseases God has blessed me with in this life; I truly am a very lucky woman. And I am serious when I say He has blessed me with these. My life would not be the same, and I have learned so much (and continue learning) from these little gifts. I would not be able to have the strength I do without God in my heart, life and soul and without the love and support of my parents. The Campen/Ollard Clan has reminded me of so much that I need to be thankful for. And for the gift of life they have chosen me for, I will Pay it Forward. My prayer is that you will join me in this too.

 

To the Campen/Ollard Clan – I love you all more than you know. For the first time in my life, you made me speechless!!

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4 Responses to “Pay it Forward”

  1. 80sbabiesblog Says:

    Thank you for sharing Lindsey! You have an awesome family and your spirit is amazing! It takes courage and strength to still see the positive in life after all that you have gone through and continue to go through. I feel humbled by your story and completely blessed to have even met you!

  2. Cathy Bowyer Says:

    My precious Lindsey,
    I can’t hardly see how to type because of my tears. That was an amazing blog, you have touched so many people and so many people have touched you. I can only imagine, but I really don’t have any idea the hell you live thru battling the heart failure and MS, and the fears and uncertainity that come with it. I would take every bit of it if I could. I love you more than life itself. You are my hero.

  3. Becky Hoover Says:

    Lindsey,
    I am so sobered as I read your thoughts, about how precious life is. I’m proud of your fight and your faith as you press on, one day at a time. Still praying for you, and so grateful God has you surrounded by such a loving family.

  4. BooksByKZ Says:

    Your woeds are so powerful and makes me want to just get up and help. This time I am unable to help physically, but I did drop a line on paypal for your friend.

    Keep it up honey, you are going strong.

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