NDAD’s free online classifieds help you find, market assistive devices

wheelin2Check out NDAD’s Wheelin’ & Dealin’ digital classifieds at http://www.ndad.org/wheelindealin.asp to see listings of assistive devices that are for sale or that are being sought.

Ads are free to submit online; submissions are reviewed and posted during regular business hours.

Or, you may make submissions by mail, email or phone. The toll-free number is (800) 532-NDAD. Contact info for NDAD’s four North Dakota offices are on the home page of NDAD.org.

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NDAD creates Faye Gibbens Memorial Grant

Faye Gibbens was an NDAD-co-founder and chief program officer. She died in 2014. The North Dakota charitable nonprofit has created a memorial grant in her name.

Faye Gibbens was an NDAD-co-founder and chief program officer. She died in 2014. The North Dakota charitable nonprofit has created a memorial grant in her name.

It is with great pride that NDAD announces the establishment of the Faye Gibbens Memorial Grant.

NDAD will award a $5,000 grant to an agency/organization to be used for a health, welfare, social service or educational purpose for at-risk populations.

Deadline for the grant application is September 30, 2015. The full grant application is available in PDF form at the website NDAD.org under NDAD News and Information.

Inspired by their son, Mike, who was born with cerebral palsy, Faye Gibbens and her husband, Ron, built the charitable nonprofit from a small Grand Forks parental support group to a statewide charitable nonprofit helping North Dakotans with a variety of disabilities and health challenges.

She created, expanded and oversaw NDAD’s client services until her retirement in 2013, and she also provided assistance and input for the agency’s charitable gaming operations since their debut in 1982.

Faye Gibbens was born Faye Lavonne Lynse and raised near Harlow, N.D.

Prior to NDAD, Faye Gibbens taught a year of elementary school at Carrington, N.D., and two more years at Portland, N.D. She then taught and was a high school counselor at Maddock, N.D. She continued to teach part time at Maddock after the Gibbens’ son, Michael, was born in 1967.

Because Michael was born with cerebral palsy, the Gibbens decided to seek work in a larger community where more facilities and services were available for their young son.

Toward the middle 1970s, Faye and Ron Gibbens took steps to form a support group that would gather parents and relatives of children with disabilities to share information and to discuss
common issues and concerns.

The group took root and gained official non-profit status in 1975 as the North Dakota Association for the Disabled, then became a 501c(3) charitable organization the following year.

The fledgling organization provided information and referral services, particularly for people with disabilities who were unable to find services or workable solutions elsewhere.

Faye’s passion was to provide assistance to individuals in need – many of whom were not eligible for other services. Through this passion, NDAD’s client services department has grown
to include information and referral, direct financial assistance, an equipment loan program and various other services.

Faye died in February 2014 at age 70.

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NDAD leadership shift: Gibbens remains president, Santer new CEO

As NDAD approaches its 40th anniversary, the North Dakota charitable nonprofit organization is announcing a historic shift in its leadership:

Ron Gibbens

• Ron Gibbens, who co-founded the organization in 1975, has resigned from his longtime role as chief executive officer. Gibbens will remain president and concentrate on policy issues.

• Don Santer, NDAD’s chief operating officer since joining the nonprofit in January 2013, was appointed CEO by the NDAD Board of Directors in Grand Forks.

Santer will have comprehensive responsibility for all aspects of NDAD and its mission, including client services, charitable gaming and finances.

Don Santer

Since joining NDAD, Santer’s primary responsibility as COO had been to oversee NDAD’s entrepreneurial efforts – charitable gaming in Minot, Fargo, Grand Forks and Bismarck, taking place both in independently owned private establishments and at NDAD’s own properties. He also managed NDAD’s income-producing properties. He will retain these roles and responsibilities.

Santer is a former program manager for PRACS Institute, Ltd., at its North American locations. Before that, he served as technical director and then program director for Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre.

Santer served five years in the U.S. Navy. He has a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from the University of Mary’s Fargo campus and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Production and Design from Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Inspired by their son, Mike, who was born with cerebral palsy, Ron Gibbens and with his wife of nearly 50 years, Faye, founded and then developed the North Dakota Association for the Disabled. It grew from a small Grand Forks parental support group in 1975 to a statewide charitable organization that employs more than 120 people. Faye Gibbens died in February 2014.

By providing financial aid and other assistance through funds generated by both the organization and community projects, NDAD continues to operate under its founding belief that people with disabilities and health challenges can live more satisfying and productive lives with access to the right resources.

NDAD has offices in Grand Forks, Minot, Fargo and Williston.

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New NDAD Insider newsletter offers an Escape

Use this link — http://www.ndad.org/newsletter.asp — to download the digital edition of the latest NDAD Insider newsletter. It’s a special edition focusing on 20 years of NDAD’s adaptive water recreation extravaganza known as Escape to the Lake.

The 2014 Escape was held at Nelson Lake near Center, N.D., on June 21.

If you don’t get this free NDAD newsletter automatically emailed to you, sign up to join our subscriber list on the same linked page.

The cover of the special Escape to the Lake edition of NDAD Insider.

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Photos of adaptive water skiing fun at 20th Escape to the Lake

Adaptive water recreation took center stage at NDAD’s 20th Escape to the Lake, held June 21 near Center, N.D., at Nelson Lake. Sporting Chance of Bismarck, the Aqua Addicts performance ski team of Aberdeen, S.D., and founding partner Texas Adaptive Aquatics again were on-site participants with NDAD of this popular event for people with disabilities, plus their family members and friends.

See NDAD’s earlier Facebook galleries of photos from this year’s Escape to the Lake here:

1) Gallery No. 1.

2) Gallery No. 2.

3) Gallery No. 3.

4) Gallery No. 4.

5) Gallery No. 5.

6) Gallery No. 6.

Photos by NDAD’s Mike Brue.

Learn more about the 2015 Escape to the Lake at (800) 532-NDAD (-6323).




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Benefit Saturday for Forks’ drummer cancer patient Terry Tibiatowski

You’re invited to attend Saturday’s special benefit to help Grand Forks mechanic and musician Terry Tibiatowski, 52, who has Stage 4 colon cancer. Plenty of silent auction and raffle items will be available, including hundreds of restaurant and pizza certificates, casino packages, grocery gift cards, four golf packages, decorative mirrors, sporting equipment and more, according to benefit organizers. This NDAD-sponsored benefit is set to start at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and last until closing at Diamond Lounge in Grand Forks. Donate online to help Terry, a single dad who has drummed for Gypsy Wynd, the Stampede, Deliverance and others, at http://www.ndad.org/fundraisers.asp. Or, you may mail a donation to help Terry at NDAD, c/o Terry Tibiatowski Fundraiser, 2660 S. Columbia Road, Grand Forks, ND 58201. All proceeds will go to help Terry with medical and general expenses. NDAD’s free Community Fundraisers Program is supporting this effort; call (800) 532-NDAD (-6323) to learn more.


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NDAD’s 20th Escape to the Lake a few weeks away

The 20th Escape to the Lake created by NDAD is set for Sat., June 21, at Nelson Lake Recreation Area near Center, N.D., in Oliver County northwest of Bismarck and Mandan.

The adaptive water recreation event gives people with a variety of disabilities an opportunity to participate in water recreation with family and friends able to witness their enjoyment.

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BENEFIT FOR CINDY JO ADAMS SATURDAY: Reynolds, N.D., woman pushes onward after grueling cancer treatment

The flier for Saturday’s benefit for Cindy Jo Adams of rural Reynolds, N.D. Doors open at 3:30 p.m., and the benefit starts at 4 p.m., beginning with dinner and a silent auction. (More details on the flier). The 48-year-old real estate agent, mother of two and wife of David Adams, a farmer, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last September. She had surgery at the Mayo Clinic complex in Rochester, Minn., in October 2013, followed by chemotherapy treatments that ended in late February 2014. Read the article to learn more about Cindy Jo, or go to http://www.ndad.org. There, click “Community Fundraisers,” where you may donate online using a credit card or PayPal to help her (using the “Give Online” button next to the article and benefit flier about Cindy Jo), or you can mail a donation to: NDAD, c/o Cindy Jo Adams Fundraiser, 2660 S. Columbia Road, Grand Forks, ND 58201. Please make checks payable to NDAD and be sure to write “Cindy Jo Adams” on your check’s memo line. Charitable nonprofit NDAD is sponsoring the benefit and serving as fund custodian through its free Community Fundraisers Program. All proceeds from the Cindy Jo Adams benefit and online fundraising on her behalf will go to help Cindy Jo and her family with medical and general expenses. Learn more about NDAD’s Community Fundraisers Program and how it may be able to assist your efforts to help someone with a disability or serious health challenge by calling (800) 532-NDAD (-6323).

By Mike Brue  

As a child and adult, Cindy Jo Adams has traveled from her country home to Reynolds, N.D., far more times than she could count.

Saturday’s trip to her hometown will be different.

Cindy Jo knows it, too, and there’s little the 48-year-old can do to prepare herself for it other than to just to show up.

“I don’t know how I’m going to take Saturday,” she conceded.

She’s unsure how to adequately prep herself for the big benefit planned at the Knights of Columbus Hall — a meatball and potatoes dinner, with homemade baked goods for sale, silent and live auctions, paddle walks and cake walks, plus live music. The benefit is intended to help her.

 “It’s going to be a tough day, I know that,” Cindy Jo said, then added. “They’ve been just wonderful.”

For Cindy Jo, Saturday is a coming-out gathering of sorts that follows her grueling half-year battle with Stage 3 ovarian cancer – a period when this typically gregarious, outgoing woman lived an atypical, cocoon-like existence, she said.

“She’s nervous about it, and I think it’s more anxiety because she hasn’t been out and she hasn’t seen many of these people” since learning she had cancer back in September, said her daughter, Cassie Adams, 20. “I think she’s afraid she’s just going to be very overwhelmed.”

“Oh, yeah,” said close friend Jeanne Breidenbach of Reynolds, the benefit chairperson. “There’s going to be a lot of tears. . . . She’s been out a few times now, but not in big, big crowds. So Saturday will be a very big day for her.”

Cindy Jo is no stranger to being on the receiving end of a benefit, but that experience seems like half a lifetime ago. Back in 1997, a temporary, life-threatening kidney ailment put 3-year-old Cassie in a Minneapolis hospital on dialysis for eight weeks, and a successful Reynolds benefit was held for the Adams family. That benefit, like Saturday’s, was sponsored by charitable nonprofit NDAD.

And Cindy Jo has participated in benefits to help others, including one for her brother-in-law, Gary Adams of Reynolds, held in 2011 as he was dealing with serious intestinal complications.

During her chemotherapy treatment, Cindy Jo witnessed the community’s kindness in other ways. Her community friends teamed up to bring 30 meals, one a week, to the Adams family: Cindy Jo and husband David; son Jordan, a Central Valley High School senior; and daughter Cassie, when she’s home from Crookston, Minn., where she’s a junior majoring in animal science at the University of Minnesota campus there.

Each week, the meals were delivered with a little inspirational note.

“Reynolds,” Cindy Jo said quietly, “is a very good community.”

The feeling appears to be mutual.

 “Kind. Bubbly. Puts her family and friends first, before herself,” Jeanne said about Cindy Jo.

Saturday’s benefit is going to test Cindy Jo’s strength, emotionally and physically. She was exhausted from battling illness after the last of her six chemotherapy treatments in Grand Forks on Feb. 24. The chemo regimen began several weeks after her cancer surgery, including a radical hysterectomy, Oct. 8 at the Mayo Clinic complex in Rochester, Minn.

Cindy Jo said she was told that she’s the first person in Grand Forks to complete the full chemo regimen for her particular cancer drug. “They said 28 percent clinically only finish this regimen,” she said. “It was very strong. I was sick for days” after each treatment.

The rural Reynolds woman admits she wanted to stop taking the chemo treatments, given how ill they made her. She didn’t, in part after being reminded what she’s always told her children whenever they pursued athletic endeavors, be it youth snowmobile racing in the KC Pro West circuit or school sports, such as basketball or volleyball: If they started a sport, she said, they could not quit during the season — no matter how difficult it might get.

 “We’re not quitters, Mom,” Jordan Adams reminded his mom.

Cindy Jo wasn’t, either.

In fact, Jordan, who turned 18 on March 28, opted not to play his senior year of basketball for Central Valley this past winter season. His choice. “He knew it would be very hard on me if I could not make a game,” Cindy Jo said.

She regularly has joined husband David – or represented him when he couldn’t be there (and vice versa) — at Jordan’s sprint car races in Grand Forks, their Central Valley school athletic competitions and, before that, Cassie and Jordan’s Kitty Cats / 120s Sno-Cat races on the youth KC Pro West regional circuit.

Inspirational. Supportive. Loving. Cindy Jo says her family has been all of those at the time she has needed them most — from driving her to medical appointments to Grand Forks and back, to providing quiet understanding and needed assistance at home on the farm.

“We were a really, really close family before. Did a lot together,” Cassie said. “But I think we’re even closer now, which I think is really cool.”

Saturday’s benefit is a reminder of all the others who think Cindy Jo is cool, too.

“Don’t know how I’ll take it,” Cindy Jo reiterated, “but It’s going to be a great day.”

– – – – –

Jeanne Breidenbach remembers the September 2013 day well.

She took Cindy Jo Adams to Altru Health System in Grand Forks for aCT scan to determine what might be causing her some back and lower abdomen pain.

After the appointment, the two met a mutual friend for lunch and a game of bingo at a Grand bar and grill. They were there when Cindy Jo’s cell phone rang. It was an Altru representative calling.

Cindy Jo stepped outside to take the call. Jeanne and their friend, Shelly Schumacher, suspected the news wasn’t good.

“You just know,” Jeanne recalled. “Not too often do you get a call right back after having a test.”

Shortly, Jeanne went outside to check on Cindy Jo – and found her in tears.

“And when we came back in, she went, ‘We gotta go. I just can’t be here.’

 “And then she goes, ‘Ohhh, but we bought bingo cards. . . .We better finish bingo.”

Jeanne shakes her head and chuckles. “But that’s Cindy.

“So we played bingo, and then we all went to my house” in Reynolds.

“And we just did a lot of talking and crying.”

From Reynolds, Jeanne called Cassie at Crookston and Jordan in Reynolds. “I just said, ‘Come to my house. Your mom needs you.’” They did, and learned the news there.

David Adams was away from home all day and well into the night busy with harvest. “I went out to the field to tell him,” Cindy Jo recalled.

Suddenly, life changed again for the couple, childhood sweethearts who married 30 years ago this coming Nov. 10. Some things wouldn’t change, though.

“My dad’s been a rock,” Cassie said. “He’s been awesome.”

David has been “just very patient, very kind. And my love,” Cindy Jo said.

Less than two weeks later, the entire family accompanied Cindy Jo to Mayo for her appointments and subsequent surgery.

– – – – –

Cindy Jo Adams describes herself before her cancer diagnosis as a “runner, runner, runner.”

“Very busy,” daughter Cassie confirmed, laughing. “Fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kind of girl.” With a clear spontaneous side. “Me and her, when we find something to do, we just go do it.”

“That’s Cindy,” friend Jeanne said. “And when she does something, she does it ‘all or nothing.’ “

“That,” Cassie said, referring to her mom’s life since her cancer diagnosis, “is what is so different about this.”

Cindy Jo said that she’s “kind of turned into a totally different person.”

She doesn’t know when she’ll return to her job full time as a real estate agent for Greenberg Realty. “I’ve worked a little bit. Not too much,” she said. Skip, her boss, “says don’t worry about it.” Cindy Jo really enjoys the work, which she’s done for about five years, and she very much likes to spend time with the people. Still, she’s apprehensive.

Without the work, there’s plenty ahead for the Adams family in coming weeks, including Jordan’s graduation is May 24. A celebration is planned on the Adams farm. “And there’s lots to do,” Cindy Jo said.

She’s also eager to finally ride the black-and-white Tennessee Walker she purchased last year. It’s her first horse since she stopped riding when the children were young. Now-grown Cassie owns three colorful paint horses, and Cindy Jo would love to ride with her daughter again. By then, Cindy Jo says, she should know her horse’s personality – and it should have a new name, too. “His name when I got him was Brad Pitt, but I just think that’s a goofy name for a horse,“ she explained.

“You can just tell she doesn’t have the strength” to ride horses yet, Cassie said of her mom. “She’ll brush them and that, but that’s it.”

Cindy Jo’s strength is returning slowly. She remains weak, and she tires easily.

“I just started last week going back to the barn and doing a few things,” Cindy Jo said early this week. “It’s challenging. . . It’s very frustrating. I can’t do nearly as much around the farm as I want to.”

In March, several weeks after she finished the last round of chemo, Cindy Jo accompanied her family on a trip to Mesa, Arizona. They’ve been there before; David’s “snowbird” parents and other friends have Arizona homes. This March trip had special purpose.

 “I wasn’t quite strong enough, but we went,” Cindy Jo said. “I promised my children. They were very good when I was going through my chemo treatments.”

“She got really tired really easily,” Cassie recalls. “We were really careful with her….We just kind of took it slow. It was more to just get away, get some sun. I think she really enjoyed it. I think it helped boost her confidence and just her overall attitude a little bit.”

Jeanne Breidenbach called the trip “marvelous” for the Cindy Jo and her family after their trying fall and winter. “Like we tell everybody, how would you feel if you didn’t know where your life is going to go next? How would you feel if you didn’t know if you were going to survive this or not?” Jeanne said. “Nobody deserves cancer, and everybody deserves a getaway.”

That said, Jeanne reminded, her good friend still is “not out of the woods.”

Cindy Jo’s kidneys have been damaged by the chemotherapy treatments. And Monday, she’ll be tested genetically to determine whether she carries a gene that shows up in women with certain types of breast cancer. Her sister, Lynette, recently was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“We really didn’t have cancer in my family,” Cindy Jo said. That’s partially why when her doctor first talked about it last September, Cindy Jo said, she was in denial.

Now she’ll receive positron emission tomography (PET) imaging tests every few months to monitor for any possible return of cancer. She also has other permanent medications she must take.

“Here was a girl who would barely take an aspirin, and then all of a sudden she’s got a little purse full of these meds and that med,” Jeanne said.

But Jeanne added she’s optimistic “Cindy will be Cindy again. . . . She wants her life back,” Jeanne said. “That’s her words: ‘I just want to feel normal again.’”

Come Saturday, friends, family and community intend to remind Cindy Jo Adams that they support the woman she was, is and – for a very long time to come, they hope – will become.

Mike Brue is communications director for NDAD.


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Terry Harmon benefit set for Satuday: ‘Nice to know people care about you’

By Mike Brue 

GRAND FORKS — A little more than a year ago, Terry Harmon began a new health journey that turned into a roller coaster ride.

“It’s been a tough haul,” he said this week.

Still, the 51-year-old Grand Forks man is more optimistic than he’s been in months that he’s nearing a positive destination. That optimism gets an added boost from Saturday’s benefit on his behalf at the East Grand Forks, Minn., Eagles Club (see sidebar). It’s been organized by some family and friends, and charitable nonprofit NDAD is a sponsor.

“You know, he’s the last person who’s going to ask anyone for help,” said Larry Laughlin, a longtime friend who also is a co-worker at Rydell Auto Center. Laughlin is one of the benefit organizers.

You’re invited to attend Saturday’s benefit, which includes a silent auction, baked goods sale, baked potato bar and music by SM Productions & Photography. All proceeds will be used to help Terry with medical and general expenses.
Silent auction items includes a signed UND men’s hockey jersey signed by the entire team; various gift baskets; restaurant certificates; a welded stand-up UND Sioux logo head and welded tabletop old car, both by Andrew Straub; full detail kits donated by Terry’s employer Rydell, and much more. Specially decorated lighted table vases will be sold as well, with all proceeds going to help Terry.
A free-will offering is requested for admission.
If you’re unable to attend Saturday’s benefit, you still may help by donating online at NDAD.org, in the Community Fundraisers section, and click the “Give Online” button next to the short article and benefit flier for Terry. You’ll need a credit card or PayPal.
Or, you may mail a check to: NDAD, c/o Terry Harmon Fundraiser, 2660 S. Columbia Road, Grand Forks, ND 58201. Please make your check payable to NDAD and be sure to write “Terry Harmon” on your check’s memo line.
Charitable nonprofit NDAD is sponsoring the benefit through its free Community Fundraisers Program. You’re invited to learn more about the program and how it may be able to help you assist someone with serious medical or disability challenges by calling (800) 532-NDAD (-6323).
Another way to help: SHARE this item with others who may not know about the benefit and who may wish to attend the benefit or help Terry Harmon. Thank you.

“He’s been amazing. He’s had a few ‘why me?’ patches, but

everybody goes through that,” said Meaghann Harmon, 27, Terry’s daughter and a benefit organizer. “Honestly, his spirits have been great. He has to keep looking ahead. . . He’s been a true inspiration to me, (saying) just keep fighting the fight, and one day it will be better.”

Harmon’s first colonoscopy in late March 2013 – scheduled at the urging of older brother Tom  revealed seven non-cancerous polyps and a lesion that proved cancerous after a biopsy – an “unnerving” discovery, he recalls, after actually seeing the lesion discovered on a monitor during the examination.

But the examination also was proof positive that timely colorectal screenings can catch a potentially fatal cancer before it’s too late to seek effective treatment.

Harmon said test results put the cancer at roughly a Stage 2 or 3 “because it hadn’t gotten out of the colon but made it through the third wall.” Neither surrounding lymph nodes nor vital organs were affected.

Still, daughter Meaghann recalled, “It was like a rug was pulled out from under him.”

“He was pretty unsure. And scared — like any one would be,” she said. “For a while, it was just sitting, waiting and wondering. . . . Once they had a game plan how to fight it, then he was surer and more confident about it.”

Harmon began chemotherapy and radiation a year ago to try killing and shrinking the colon tumor before surgery. The now-smaller, nickel-size lesion was removed, and his colon re-routed, by surgeon Dr. Robin Hape last June 16 at Altru Hospital.

Summer gave Harmon an opportunity to heal, and eventually he returned to his job in wholesale auto parts at Rydell Auto Center in Grand Forks. A round of post-operative chemotherapy followed in October. But new problems developed:  a colon abscess led to formation of a tract, called a fistula, that grew from his colon to his bladder and resulted in a urinary tract infection, Harmon said.

He returned to Altru Hospital in late November, this time for more than a week, to have surgery to again re-route his colon, he said.

 “There was a pocket of bacteria down behind my bladder, too, that with antibiotics they’d hoped and speculated that it would take care of that infection,” Harmon said. He received oral antibiotics, and a post-surgical scan in December indicated that the infection was shrinking, he was told.

Then came the weekend before Christmas.

A difficult Christmas holiday

“Saturday night, I was sitting up and doing Christmas gifts — just the normal stuff, feeling fine,” Harmon said. “When I went to bed, my right leg was throbbing and my toes were just – well, everything was sore on the right side, in my right leg. And my lower back was sore. It felt like a muscle cramp.

“So, I was up late night and early in the morning, trying to stretch my leg out and my back out, and I could not figure out why it was acting this way. . . . Anyway, I slept hardly at all.”

He didn’t recognize that his body temperature was elevated.

When he rose Sunday morning, he was in pain, his leg was throbbing “and then I realized that my toes were numb on my right foot,” he recalled. He made a phone call to Meaghann “and said, ‘I need to go to the ER. There’s something wrong with my leg and my back.’ ”

He phoned Altru’s emergency room and then checked his own temperature, as a nurse had suggested. He had a fever of nearly 103 degrees.

“When I went into the ER, the ER doctor said, ‘We’re going to put you through an MRI to find out what’s going on.’ . . . They did find out that I had a blood infection.” Apparently, the infection behind his bladder made its way into the veins in Harmon’s back and near the base of his spine, he was told.

That was Dec. 22. “I was in the hospital for 11 days because of that, on many different antibiotics, trying to figure out what the infection would react to,” Harmon said.  Altru’s infectious disease specialist, Dr. James Hargreaves, determined a course of treatment. “I ended up on eight weeks of home IV antibiotics before the infection finally went away,” Harmon said.

Discharged on Jan. 1, he felt weary, overwhelmed and sad. “I missed the holidays with my family.  Not the normal regimen that I was used to.” His latest setback had shaken his confidence in his health.

“There’s a while there that he didn’t think he get through it,” Meaghann Harmon recalled. “The infection was scarier than the cancer, because the infection was extremely life-threatening right away.”

As winter continued, so did the achiness and throbbing in Harmon’s right leg, and the numbness in his toes. His lower back began bothering him even more. Something else wasn’t right with his back, he told his neurologist.

Harmon learned “there’s kind of a build-up of this kind of mucous-y pus build-up that’s putting pressure on those nerves, and he said what they would do is go in and make an incision and clean that out and open that up and get pressure off the nerves.” That surgery, though, would have to wait until he healed further. He was given a strong antibiotic intended to tackle and eliminate a possible infection in his back bone, he said.

When his back pain became even more severe, Harmon strongly urged another scan. “Something else was going on,” he said.

A CT scan and x-rays in February revealed that one of Harmon’s vertebrae had fractured and already had started to heal again. “The neurologist asked me right away if I had fallen, and, no, I hadn’t fallen on ice or anything,” Harmon recalled. It was possible, but not certain, that the infection might have contributed to weakening or deteriorating the vertebrae.

Harmon wanted to wear a back brace but could not because, since his late fall surgery, he’s using a temporary ileostomy — an opening that allows intestinal waste to collect into a pouching system that adheres to his skin. He hopes to find out soon from Dr. Hape whether his colon has healed sufficiently to remove the ileostomy.

Encouraging news

Harmon said more recent health reports have been encouraging, he said. A second colonoscopy, performed April 4, showed that his repaired colon – about eight inches have been removed — “looked great,” with no polyps and no sign of cancer. “And the fistula tube had dissipated,” Harmon said. “The hole it created in his colon is covered and healed.

Also, a CT scan showed that his infection “is finally gone.”

“He had been extremely frustrated. Yeah, he was not his happy-go-lucky self for a while. Well, now in the last few months or so, he’s starting to be his old joking self again. . . . He didn’t give up. He did what the doctors told him to do,” said Laughlin, who first worked with Terry Harmon back in ’81 at the old Wilcox and Malm auto dealership, when Harmon moved to Grand Forks.

Harmon is eager for his back woes to end his temporary disability so he may return to his job at Rydell, where he’s been for 21 years. “I love my job,” he said. Rydell management and co-workers “have been very supportive and very upbeat about this thing,” he said. “And they want me back to work. . . .They’re very happy with the fact that I’ve been doing so well.”

Terry is an “outgoing, very energetic guy,” Laughlin said. “A super nice guy, always helpful and a hard worker. He’s always right there working.”

The combination of extended absence from his job and multiple medical trips seriously strain his finances, even with some help from medical and disability insurance.  “Monetarily, I’ve gotten a few gifts from family members to help me with bills,” Harmon said. “Sometimes they’ve given me a bit to spend on something fun. It shows that they care.”

He also credits the support he’s received from friends and family, including his daughter Meaghan and two sons, Haydn, 19, and Liam, who turned 17 on Monday; and Harmon’s parents, Milo and Marie Harmon of East Grand Forks. Milo Harmon is a prostate cancer survivor.

“He’s very optimistic. I love that man,” Meaghan Harmon said. “It’s his daughter that’s the worry wart. I worry. He’s like, ‘Knock it off.’ ”

Terry Harmon says he’s also been encouraged to learn that his own cancer experience has led to others getting colorectal examinations. “It makes me feel like I’ve done a lot of good,” he said.

Twice during March – first in Altru Foundation’s Legacy newsletter, then in some Forum Communications media outlets, starting with the Grand Forks Herald – Harmon’s colorectal cancer exam and resulting treatment for cancer have been the centerpiece of articles about the benefits of colorectal screening. “I actually got a lot of response, a lot of good feedback” from the articles, Harmon said, “and a lot of them had not had colonoscopies before. . . . I wanted to take that stigma out of it. A day out of your life can save your life.”

Now, he’s both excited and anxious about Saturday’s benefit, an event he hopes will “be fun and . . . a blast.” He welcomes an opportunity to reminisce with friends and family about years past. He even expects to get a bit of grief from his co-workers. Harmon also concedes that “this whole thing is going to be very overwhelming for me, all the consideration from people.”

“Like I say, it’s so nice to know that people care about you,” Harmon said. “It’s not going to hit me until 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.”

Mike Brue is communications director for NDAD.




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NDAD’s busy free assistive equipment loan program re-stocked

February was a busy month for the Grand Forks portion of NDAD’s free short-term equipment loan program.

Even though February is the year’s shortest month, the program provided 95 pieces of assistive equipment out of its Grand Forks office – surpassing the record of 89 pieces in July 2013, according to Jeri Hietala, NDAD’s client services rep in Grand Forks.

NDAD ordered a shipment of new equipment, too, that NDAD’s Terry Olmstead has been busy unboxing and assembling for the charitable nonprofit’s four North Dakota offices.

Some people who have used the program before, or even some who haven’t, generously donate gently used equipment to NDAD for use by others, too.

Adaptive equipment also is on loan from NDAD’s offices in Minot, Fargo and Williston, but the Grand Forks office is the busiest. The program regularly is used by people who have been injured or who are recovering from illnesses, and people with congenital or other long-term health challenges. People may borrow equipment for up to three months before it must be returned to NDAD.

Terry Olmstead of NDAD’s Grand Forks office has been assembling assistive equipment for NDAD’s free short-term equipment loan program. People may loan equipment for up to three months before returning it to NDAD. Equipment is available out of NDAD’s offices in Grand Forks, Minot, Fargo and Williston.

Some participants are in some type of physical transition and need the equipment for only a short period of time, making a purchase unfeasible.

Others borrow equipment for days, weeks or a few months until they purchase identical or similar equipment themselves —  on their own, through insurance providers, or with help through NDAD’s general assistance services, provided they meet program qualifications.

Another option is NDAD’s flexible, low-interest Financial Loan Program for assistive devices. This program — provided in association with Alerus Financial –provides loans between $500 and $50,000 to qualified people with disabilities and other health challenges.

NDAD’s free equipment-for-loan inventory includes shower chairs, transfer benches, crutches, manual and power wheelchairs and accessories, scooters, bed rails, walkers, knee walkers, transport chairs, walker trays, reachers, portable ramps, canes, bathtub railings, commodes, toilet seat risers, toilet raisers or safety frames, gait belts and IV poles.

Even with a new supply of equipment, some items can be out of stock and unavailable temporarily. It’s a good idea to check first by contacting NDAD at its general toll-free number — (800) 532-NDAD (-6323) – or its individual offices:

* Grand Forks at the general toll-free number or (701) 775-5577;

* Fargo at (701) 281-8215 or (888) 363-NDAD;

* Minot at (701) 838-8414 or (888) 999-NDAD;

* Williston at (701) 774-0741 or (877) 777-NDAD.

Or, visit an NDAD office for more information about the equipment loan program, NDAD’s general assistance and financial loan programs, or any of NDAD’s other non-profit services.


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