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Days Three And Four Of My Midwestern Support Group Trip

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Days Three And Four Of My Midwestern Support Group Trip

Monday was a beautiful day.  I haven’t talked much about the weather.  It was hot by Minnesota standards on Saturday and Sunday–in the mid 80’s.  But the low humidity left us feeling cool and comfortable, since it was a steamy 92 degrees when we left Tampa on Saturday afternoon.

Monday cooled-down into the 70’s.  It was one of those brilliantly clear and sunny Midwestern fall days–the type that makes you wish the whole year could be mid-September.

Pattie and I spent the morning doing a bit of shopping for University of Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packer gear.  Can never have enough of that to wear around Florida!

It’s funny.  I wear a lot of Badger and Packer clothing when I’m in Florida or, like yesterday, in Minnesota.  But back in Wisconsin, I like to wear things from Florida.  Here is a perfect example–I’m wearing a long sleeve T shirt, with CLEARWATER BEACH, FLORIDA displayed boldly across the chest.

After all, what fun is it to wear something from Wisconsin, in Wisconsin?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Monday’s support group meeting was a memorable experience.  A dozen or so survivors and caregivers, all with surprisingly different experiences.  One was newly diagnosed, with a lot of bone damage.  Her myeloma seemed to be responding well to treatment, so she planned to wait to transplant.  Another woman who had also endured crippling bone involvement, had chosen to transplant and was fully recovered and doing well.

Captain Mike, from last Sunday night’s pontoon boat ride was there.  So were several caregivers who represented their spouses who were unable to attend.

I didn’t think to get permission from participants to use their names.  But I don’t think the group’s founder, Colleen, will mind if I give her a public “shout out,” and thank her here for working so hard to get the group started.  Colleen’s husband, Jim, recently passed-away following a seven year battle against multiple myeloma.  How admirable it is that she continues to run meetings and provide Eau Claire area patients with the help and support they need.

At the meeting, Colleen mentioned how many patients and caregivers regularly called her, but never attended meetings.  When I asked why, she mentioned that some were too ill to attend, while others just didn’t feel comfortable talking about their myeloma in a group setting.

I have had the same experience.  But I’m glad so many of my friends from the myeloma community email me often for advice, or simply to let me know how they are doing.

Monday evening we headed north to our former hometown, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.  This small city only has a population of around 2000 people.  It’s located about 45 miles east of the Twin Cities, on the St. Croix river.

The St. Croix river’s clean, dark-stained waters make up the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Across the river sits another small town, Taylors Falls.

Why the “falls” in the names St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls?  Because before a large damn was built across the river, there was quite an impressive set of falls and powerful rapids set between the two towns.

The damn was built about a half mile above the falls, reducing the water flow enough so that all there is left are these unimpressive rapids.  Still a beautiful site!

Pattie and I lived here for six or seven years before moving to Florida.  St. Croix Falls is known as the “City of Trails.”  We miss the dozen or so trails we used often with our dogs.  And that doesn’t include another half dozen or so trails which are easily accessible on the Minnesota side of the river.

More pictures tomorrow.  Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat