In my previous post, I was laser focused on arranging air transport to the Cleveland Clinic in the hopes that they would be able to provide a plan to bridge me until a heart match was identified and gifted. Please know that I am mindful each and every day that this opportunity to live came at the cost of a 17 year old young lady and her family who so selflessly chose to give amidst catastrophic loss. Her heart is precious to me; I am, and will remain, forever thankful.
SUCCESS: Air transport was finally arranged to take me to the Cleveland Clinic Drs. Gonzalo Gonzalez-Stawinski and Randall Starling awaited my arrival at the Cleveland Clinic this morning 8 years ago.
I was in all reality dying to live, digging deep to hold on…
Upon arrival at the Clinic, I met with Dr. Gonzalez-Stawainski (Gonzo) first. Amazingly, I sat myself up in bed, took his hands in mine and said, ‘do Not let me die; I’m not asking for a lifetime just the opportunity to live long enough that our son might remember me as his mom from his own memory, not from a story told to him across the years in my absence’.
This was the day that my memory became spotty due to a lack of adequate oxygen to my brain, I do, however, clearly remember telling my husband that though I wanted him to take the life flight with me, our son needed him more. So, we said ‘I love you, see you later, and safe travels as we held on to one another’s hand as long as we could. I remember my dad taking my hand as John and Abel had to let go and so lovingly boarding the plane with me along with a critical care medical team charged with my care.
My last memory that day was the coolness of the breeze coming off of Lake Erie, the lake of so many of my childhood memories and wondering whether or not I had already said my final goodbyes to my husband and our son again…
She has been a cancer patient, survivor, heart transplant recipient and documentary film producer.
As a child, she was successfully treated for Ewing’s Sarcoma. Her experience led her to become a nurse serving the physical, psychosocial, and educational needs of children, adolescents, and their families along the cancer trajectory.
Stephanie holds a B.A. in Psychology from Furman University, and a B.S., and M.S in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Florida. At Dartmouth, Stephanie helped establish the Survivorship Clinic with Eric Larsen, MD and Sara Chaffee, MD. This clinic provided ongoing personal support and education for childhood cancer survivors and their families.
In April 2008, Stephanie’s heart failed as a result of the radiation and Doxorubicin used to cure her Ewing’s Sarcoma as a child. She received a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic.
As a result of this experience, she co-produced an award winning documentary ‘Resilient: the Story of Late Effects of Cancer Treatment’, highlighting the challenges faced by survivors, families, and friends.
Stephanie resides in the metro Atlanta area with her husband and their 12-year-old-son. The Zimmermans enjoy everything from Formula One Racing and college & NFL football to go carting, ziplining, and cycling.
Please feel free to contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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