What do you do when a member of your family is faced with a life-threatening medical situation? How do you cope when the outcome isn't the happy ending we all hope for? Dr. Oz talks with two people who have lived through these difficult situations, John St. Augustine and Jennifer Madoff.
John, Dr. Oz's Oprah Radio producer, says when his daughter Amanda was born with kidney reflux, nobody realized how it would affect her life. John says doctors told him the condition would repair itself, but when Amanda was 5 years old, doctors discovered one of her kidneys needed to come out. After it was removed and for the next eight years, Amanda saw an herbalist, stayed healthy and lived an otherwise normal life. However, John says at age 13, Amanda's second kidney began to give out. John says luckily he was a perfect match and was able to donate one of his kidneys to his daughter. Five years later, Amanda hasn't experienced a relapse and is busy planning for her future.
When one member of a family is ill, their sickness affects everyone in that family. John and Amanda learned that lesson firsthand, as did Jennifer Madoff. Jennifer says her husband Roger was diagnosed with leukemia at age 29. Between chemotherapy and radiation treatments, two stem cell transplants and numerous other treatments, Roger managed to write a book, Leukemia for Chickens. Jennifer says that while the stress of dealing with Roger's illness was unbelievable, love helped them get through. "I never knew how close we were until this happened," she says. "I knew I loved my husband, but I didn't know what love meant, compared to what happened and how things grew over the years."
Jennifer says Roger passed away in 2006, at age 32, when he knew that his illness was becoming impossible to treat and that he would probably never leave the hospital. "I think that was the way to do it, preserving his dignity and living until the last possible moment that he couldn't anymore," Jennifer says.
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013