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Meet our heroes — extraordinary individuals who take the time each day to help, support and care for others. Together, we can create a healthier, happier world. Yes, we care!
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Featured Stories

We're excited to feature some of the most amazing, heartwarming stories of human kindness, caring and love. These are the stories that truly encapsulate what it means to be an "Everyday Hero".
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Yes, we care! Featured Stories

Everyday Heroes

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My Nomination for "Hero"

by Linda Brown
I want to nominate someone to be a Wellsphere Hero. Please, bare with me as I try to explain. My sister in law, Jenny, has had breast cancer for over 12 years. It metastasized and now, because of the size of the tumors, her bones break very easily. The doctors didn't think she'd make it this long and actually call her their miracle patient. As you can imagine, she has gone through a very rough time with this. Although she deserves it, she is not in a position where she would want to be a wellness hero. She is on heavy medications continuously. Her caregiver, her husband and my brother, Allen, is the person that I wanted to nominate as the hero. I hope I'm not considered biased because he is my brother. I've watched him care for her for many years but saw it first hand when I stayed with them this year.

Allen's children are grown with their own families so he has it all to do himself. He cares for her every need 24/7. This is complicated by the fact that he is also disabled and is in constant pain. My heart aches for them both. With all of this going on, the most notable element is his positive attitude. It is unbelievable how he maintains without ever complaining. He truly has dedicated his life to ensuring that Jenny always has what she needs and that she has the most comfort that he can offer in his limited capacity. This is why I feel that he deserves to be honored.

It is a husband's job to care for his wife. But my brother always goes the extra mile. When Jenny was first diagnosed with cancer, Al began teaching himself the importance of good nutrition. Although money is very scarce from all of the medical expenses, he spent the extra money on a homeopathic doctor to see if that would be helpful for her as well. He poured himself into learning all that he could about natural supplements and organic foods and learned the benefits of staying away from processed food and environmental toxins. Although Jenny's cancer progressed, he continued to ensure that they used all natural products and organic food.

Then to make matters worse, he was also diagnosed with bladder cancer. He did what he needed to do for himself but continued to focus on Jenny. His cancer is in remission now, thank God, but Jenny is in the last stages. Although he is also disabled with a very painful hip and back, he provides his wife�s total care.

During the last part of 2007 she was hospitalized. Once she was stable and they figured out a plan, he brought her home from the hospital to live out her last days in comfort. The doctors felt that she would not make it past Feb 08 and they told Al that Jenny's bones were too fragile to take any chances on moving her without the use of the hoyer lift. Since my brother struggles daily from the pain he is in, I felt that I could help by moving in with them. We did not think Jenny would make it more than a few months.

Jenny's condition demands delicacy, using a hoyer lift to move her from her bed to a recliner or her wheel chair. We toilets her when needed for bowel movements and she also has a catheter bag. Her needs are the usual toileting, baths, hygiene, meals, medications, doctor visits, groceries, cleaning and all the other normal daily activities. Her pain is extensive and many nights we just sit with her and pray. Although it would be much easier to just buy restaurant meals or frozen foods, Al just continues to prepare her meals with organic foods made at home. Many times, just to have Jenny turn it down because she was too ill to eat.

When Jenny made it past February I committed to stay longer. But finally in May I hesitantly left their home to care for my own family. I was so concerned about how Al was going to do something that took both of us for those last 5 months. But he did it and continues to do it. It's been almost 6 months since I left and he's been able to continue to care for her and their home as well as continue with the organic food preparation. It has been a very rough road for them both. I go there once a week to let him get out for groceries and errands.

Al's has a driving desire to now teach people the importance and benefits of unprocessed foods, herbs, supplements and the dangers lurking in our toxic environment. A friend of his helped him to put up a website so he could pass on the wealth of information that he's learned all these years. He's spent so much time learning about this and although it is probably not going to save his wife, he believes it has given her more years than she would have had without them. I talked him into starting a blog. I felt that this would be a way for him to pass on more information but also because it could be a place for him to express himself. Although he's still learning about blogging, he feels he's doing good for those that need his insight knowledge on the subject of cancer and nutrition.

He does not know about Wellspere.com and he certainly doesn't know that I'm writing to you. I found your name on Lori Laws blog. When I was watching the video I remembered something my brother had recently said. When we were planning his blog he had mentioned that if he could just use the wealth of information that he's absorbed to help other people, it would help him to feel like it wasn't all for nothing. He never complains and when I ask how he's doing, he always tells me he's good, even though I know there are days that he isn't. He enjoys writing and even has written poetry throughout his life. In fact one of his poems is about the Challenger space shuttle which is now on the walls at NASA.

I don't know if you have a place for someone like him. I know that he is genuine and deserves so much for all the good he has done. Even before Jenny's illness he would never turn anyone away. I believe he has the gift of mercy and it shows in everything that he does. Regardless whether your group considers him for this award, he is truly a hero to me.

If you consider him for a 'hero' position, I feel it will make some of what they've gone through, actually worthwhile. It would be blessing to see his eyes light up again.

His blog is http://cancer-isnt-scary.blogspot.com
His website it http://www.canceranswersthatheal.com

An American Hero in Tuscany

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore is an everyday hero to her family, which she is raising with her husband in Grosseto, Italy. Jodi is our hero for her devotion to helping her son Jordan overcome his deafness, and for using her voice to inspire others with deafness to achieve their goals. Thanks to Jodi's work, and with a little help from cochlear implants, Jordan has mastered two languages (English and Italian), enjoys the opera, and is the hero of the novel "Rally Caps", which features a deaf boy who loves the game of baseball.

You can feel the enthusiasm and caring in Jodi's voice on her video.


Jodi Cutler Del Dottore

Introducing......An American Mom in Tuscany and the Cochlear Implant

Hi Everyone!!!

I'm Jodi and this is my first official blog ever! I am the co-author of the children's book RALLY CAPS that was published in April 2007 (the other author is my dad). This book was inspired by my eleven year old son Jordan, who is deaf and wears a cochlear implant. I wanted to mainstream a strong deaf character in literature as my son is mainstreamed in public schools and life in general....IN GROSSETO! Grosseto is a town in Tuscany, Italy. I have chosen to write a blog because after so many years of teaching my deaf son to have a voice, I have neglected to use my own voice regarding how cochlear implants are changing lives. I feel extremely fortunate that my son is overcoming his disability and I would like all parents to know that the cochlear implant truly works.

To learn a little more about our story and to meet my incredible son (there is also a picture of my daughter Sofia) visit http://www.rallycaps.net/ciinfo.htm.
I look forward to writing and meeting new people curious about the cochlear implant and life in Tuscany.

Jodi
Co-Author of RALLY CAPS
Mamma of Jordan 11 years old (Nucleus 24C FREEDOM upgrade left ear) and Sofia Madyson aka "DRAMA" 4 years old

Dr. Anthony DiGioia Creates a More Caring Health Experience

Dr. Anthony M. DiGioia III, MD, is a practicing orthopedic surgeon at Magee-Womens Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who has devoted his career to helping others. He is a surgeon who cares for individual patients, an educator who teaches the public through workshops and seminars, and an innovator who is advancing the science of performance in health care. Dr. DiGioia demonstrated his deep caring for patients and their families in creating the Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC) process, which is based on an "easy to use" service approach that aims for 100% patient and family satisfaction. He has demonstrated the PFCC in his private practice, and in the orthopedic service at Magee-Woman's hospital. Perhaps the words of one of his patients best summarize the impact of Dr. DiGioia's caring.


Anthony M. Gioia III, MD

Focused Care Centers

Improving the quality of health care by providing safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered care, should be the goal of every health care professional. In order to achieve these goals, a "systems " approach to care deliver will require inpatient and outpatient Focused Care Centers coupled with the Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC) methodology. Focused Care Centers (FCC) enable innovations that result in value driven cnanges but also permits provider the ability to "scale up" those innovations resulting in a high quality of services available to a greater number of patients. The Patient and Family Centered Care methodology is a the systems approach that improves the quality of the care delivered, safety, efficiencies and patient experiences by critically examining the whole process from the patient's and family's perspective. The combination of Focused Care Centers and the PFCC methodology brings together all of the people and processes in one place allowing the focus to be on the "experience" not just the "clinical service" in order to maximize the efficient utilization of health care resources to the benefit of our patients.

Your Guide to Healthy Aging

Dr. Lyn Dornan, PhD, is a developmental psychologist who helps others succeed in living as healthy and active a life as possible as they age. She offers advice and guidance in several areas of human development across the lifespan, including ebooks and audio/video files on child development, parenting, healthy aging, and gaining financial stability.

Lyn describes her approach to helping people "age healthy" in her video:


Lyn Dornan, PhD

My take on healthy 90-year-olds

People in their 90's were obviously born in the 1910's and on. They survived the flu epidemic of 1917 and the various childhood diseases that killed many. My mom was such a 95-er who died in 2001.

The food they ate, and the food I ate, was nutritious. They got exercise as they went about their daily lives. They walked to school, lived without central heat and AC...and drank clean water. They breathed cleaner air as kids - depending on where they lived - and did without radios and TVs for most of their lives.

What has changed? Even when I was a kid, a lot of what I listed above was still true. Good food, cleaner air [and I lived in NYC] no TV til I was about 10 - and clean water. But then we hit the 1950's post WWII boom and paved the country, built communities that necessitated driving and encouraged a TV for every house - then every room in every house :-).

We've killed the soil as the major corporations took over "farming," using chemicals to make food bigger with longer shelf lives - or truck lives now...Food is not ripened in the fields - it ripens in the truck or in your home - that's not nutrition - it's "filler."

I went shopping today and wanted some avocados - they were all like rocks. I won't buy them like that. By the time they ripen in my home, they are usually yukky. And that was from the "better" stores......

So how do we get healthy 90-year-olds in the future? We need to encourage healthy nutrition and life styles in women before they get pregnant and the same for children from the time they are born. To do that we need to turn around the unhealthy lifestyles we are now encouraging - lowering the obesity rate for children and adults - and going back to sustainable farming practices....plus taking food-based supplements - because most of our food, sadly, is lacking nutrition....

We can do it...
David Danserau

Preventing Stroke Through Awareness

I had a stroke at age 39. I had no known risk factors, and other than dealing with unexplained migraine headaches, I was in good health. My stroke was caused by a PFO- a hole in my heart that was a hidden birth defect until it caused a clot to go to my brain. Just like Tedy Bruschi, I was not aware of this defect until it caused my stroke. I know I am blessed to be on my way to a full recovery and it continues to be my goal to help educate others who may also unknowingly be at risk. To learn more about how a PFO caused my stroke please read my story at: http://www.my-physical-therapy-coach.com/patent-foramen-ovale.html

Last year I completed my 1st Falmouth Road Race with Tedy�s Team as a sign to my real stroke hero,my wife Lisa, that �I am back� and I could not have survived without her unconditional love and support. I also wanted to show my children that daddy does indeed �feel better�! Finally, I also felt it was important to run as a gesture of thanks for the exceptional care I received at Mass. General Hospital and in support of �our quarterbacks� for the mission of Tedy�s Team, Tedy and Heidi Bruschi.

This year, I plan to run Falmouth in honor and support of all the stroke survivors that have contacted me through my website and by phone. I am running for Ray, Melissa, Jen, Regina, Sandy, Jeff, Vicky, Will and especially to the parents of a boy in RI who I recently learned lost their young son after he suffered a massive stroke from a previously undiagnosed PFO. Also for the other survivors I did not mention by name who contacted me by phone looking for answers or just to find the voice of someone who does know-stroke and is willing to give a little bit and share insight behind a diagnosis. Their stories are all too similar to mine, and I know now that my heart has been repaired I have a new determination to keep educating others. Just a short time ago, I walked in their shoes and had no one my age to speak to that had survived a stroke from this cause. Please read these stroke survivors stories or add your own here at my blog know-stroke.org

The completion of the road race this year also will reaffirm my long term goal to expand the educational campaign I refer to as Know-Stroke or as some of my friends are also referring to it as the �Countdown to Oprah� challenge to gain national awareness and raise more funds for stroke education and prevention. (If you read my full story at the link above you�ll learn more about my �Oprah moment� and you�ll understand why I keep my story out there and why perhaps Zack probably still thinks I am crazy�) Anyway, my heart is decided on this challenge. It has been just over 1 year since my heart surgery, and I have been migraine free with a clear head for exactly that same time period.

As it turns out during my stroke season, I found out many physicians also need more training and awareness to screen for stroke, especially where it relates to this possible heart/brain/migraine connection. It is my goal to help raise awareness for stroke by advocating for research to develop a better understanding of this connection between the heart and brain and better education and awareness for screening tools for physicians, coaches,and parents.

To that end, I have teamed up with Tedy�s Team and the Boston and Rhode Island affiliates of the American Heart/Stroke Associations to help raise awareness. There is a great need for better education and research because as you may already know this heart defect can be potentially devastating, especially for young stroke and migraine survivors that often get misdiagnosed or ignored due to age. This is why I run.

Thank you for your help and for allowing me a chance to share my story.

Best Regards,
David Dansereau
Stroke Survivor


A Cardiovascular Nurse with a Very Special Heart

Debbie Petra is a cardiovascular nurse specialist who has a special interest in heart problems that dates back to her earliest experiences as a child having open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect at the age of 7. She made a career of helping people recover from cardiovascular events, but her passion is helping people adopt healthier lifestyles so they can prevent heart disease. Debbie is an everyday hero for her efforts to share her knowledge of the value and importance of healthy lifestyles. See her video:


Debbie Petra

World Heart Day 2008

Today is World Heart Day. It's a day to raise awareness about risk factors for heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure). Both of these chronic conditions are largely preventable. The World Heart Federation has a mission to help "people achieve a longer and better life through prevention and control of heart disease and stroke, with a focus on low and middle income countries". I am a member of Iowa Avenue, a social network that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

As a healthy lifestyle blogger, this is a day to address heart health. The heart is the wellspring of life. Without our heart, there is no life. This amazing organ pumps blood and oxygen throughout our bodies where it is needed. If we take proper care of our bodies, it should last a long time.

I promote a lifestyle of proper exercise and healthy eating, but I believe there's even more to heart health. You can be disciplined on the outside and look great but inside harbor anger, bitterness and resentment. And over time, that can impact your heart health. If you have a hard time receiving love, you'll have a hard time loving others.

I believe heart health involves a proper balance of body, soul and spirit.
  • Body: We need to be stewards of how we care for our bodies. Proper nutrition and adequate exercise are necessary to promote good heart health.
  • Soul: This involves your mind, will and emotions. What you choose to focus on and fill your mind with impacts how you live out your life.
  • Spirit: This involves our relationship to God. We were each born with a moral compass or conscience but we choose whether we listen or not.
Would you take a moment to consider where you stand? Are you neglecting one of these areas? What are you doing to take care of your heart health?

Yes, We Care! Video

Yes, We Care! Video
Watch the Official Yes, We Care! Video and learn more about our heroes.

Nominate a Hero!

Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized for caring enough to make a difference in your life, or in the lives of others? Nominate them! Once approved, we'll send them an acceptance email telling them about your nomination along with a special Everyday Hero badge, and add them to our Map of Caring.