Mike’s Story

Site created on July 19, 2018

Mike Westberg was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017. He has endured chemotherapy every three weeks to keep his CMML in check, which can only help until it no longer helps. As a family we were told this from the start: The only option was on-going frequent chemo, which wouldn't work endlessly. The only true cure would be a bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant, which a doctor would have to be convinced is the best route, which isn't that common for 70 year old guys. So, unless a doctor would agree to do a transplant, and  only if a marrow match was found, our dad wasn't getting the best news and we were all so sad. 

But then. In the spring of 2018 it was discovered that Mike's sister Sandi is a perfect bone marrow match. This was fan-freaking-tastic news, but still Mike's doctor needed to agree to give this risky procedure a try. You see, the recovery road for most people is very difficult and not always worth the risks, especially in the "golden years."   

Long story short, Mike's doctor said yes, and we said HALLELUJAH. The doctor said yes because of the rare perfect match in Sandi (there was only a 20% chance of that) which helps a whole lot with the process, and because Mike is in such excellent health for being nearly 70. His doc considers his body's organs and functions to be more of that of a 55 year old. (Thanks, metabolism! Thanks Westberg genes! Other than that cancer stuff, you're pretty great!) 

And so the journey has begun. Mike and Sandi's stem cell transplant journey will begin on August 4th, and he will be in Rochester for at least three months. We (Mike and his wife Linda of nearly 50 years, daughters Shelly & Heather (ages unknown) and grandkids, Zachary, Maxwell, Miles, Asher and Elsie) appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we walk the precarious transplant journey together. We are learning to be less in control than we have ever been. We are scared and hopeful at once, and ready to face what may come. We are so grateful for all of our friends and family, and for Sandi especially, as she sacrifices her time and DNA to give life back to the loving, supportive and hilarious husband, son, father, grandpa, friend, cousin, uncle and father-in-law we love so dearly. We feel your thoughts and prayers and appreciate you all so much. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Heather King

For the most part, our dad's journey has been filled with hope and has gone fairly smoothly. Bone marrow transplants are one big mix of bad and good, and we've been so thankful for the good. Dad's body took to Sandi's cells like a champ, that's the best part. That continues to be true, according to the lab work so far. But lately, he hasn't been feeling well, has difficulty with fatigue and a lack of appetite, and just seems somewhat "off" in how he feels. Thankfully he has an appointment with his Mayo clinic doctor today. He also has called to report the changes and had a med change that we hoped would improve his appetite, etc. So far it hadn't really turned around, so we'll see what happens with lab work today, and the conversation with the doctor. 

The last month was extra hard for recovery because dad's mom became ill and went on hospice. She was gone in a matter of days. This wasn't entirely unexpected, but it was of course terribly sad. Saying goodbye to a mother is never an easy thing. This meant many days without rest, a funeral and grief. 

Our parents also celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, so with the help of some friends, my sister and I tried to pull off a party. I say "tried" because we invited people via Facebook and in the church bulletin, but this ended up leaving out a lot of folks that aren't on Facebook and/or don't go to our parent's church. This is my way of saying I'm sorry if you weren't aware of the party! Many people have told us they wish they would have known, so of course we feel guilty that they didn't hear about it. It was open to everyone, of course, but there's no going back in time. Shoot.
Hindsight of course made it look obvious that we could have put in the paper or something, to reach more folks. Our heads aren't entirely clear these days. 

Please send your faithful thoughts and prayers to dad, for energy and appetite once again. The way he feels may be a sign of graft versus host disease so we'll be sure they are checking that today in Rochester. 

All the best, 

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