Wedding Bells Chime the Unexpected
On their wedding day in August of 2004, college sweethearts Mik and Heidi Gusenius embarked on a lifelong adventure with heartfelt hopes and dreams that were yet to become a reality. But along every journey comes the unexpected, and for Mik and Heidi, it came much sooner than they could have ever imagined.
In July 2005, Heidi was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia after undergoing a bone marrow biopsy - her white blood cell count was so high that it did not even register on the clinic's lab system. Heidi began chemotherapy immediately and spent the next month in treatment at the hospital.
Finding a Way to Connect
"Heidi has a lot of friends, so it was going to be kind of a challenge to tell everybody about her diagnosis and her treatments," Mik says.
He knew he did not want to spend all of his time on the phone while he was at the hospital with Heidi. Thankfully, someone at the hospital told them about CaringBridge and how it had helped other families keep in touch with their loved ones during their health journey.
"I think CaringBridge is a great tool for getting the word out [and] keeping family members and friends updated on the patient's situation," Heidi says. "It's a free service that is such a helpful tool to patients and couples - families like us."
Healing through Authentic Communication
The ability to openly share their journey with so many people through CaringBridge gave both Mik and Heidi the courage they needed to continue to be strong.
"CaringBridge is such a safe place for people to feel comfortable in showing their emotion," says Heidi.
For Mik, the authentic communication that took place on Heidi's CaringBridge website brought a sense of closeness with loved ones who were following the site. "It's so much more personal than e-mail or Facebook," Mik said. "People know that it's there for you and your family. They update it like they're talking to you. What they want to say, they say there; they don't hold anything back and it's pretty special."
The support that so many others showed by reading the Gusenius' journal updates and posting words of encouragement in their guestbook empowered Heidi to face her cancer.
"For me, CaringBridge was very therapeutic in that it was almost a sense of healing," Heidi said. "Just knowing I had these tens of thousands of people supporting me throughout my journey made me want to fight [my cancer] even harder."