Tag Archives: emotional

The 2016 Transplant Games In 3 Words: Joy, Inspiration, Resilience

Every year, the Transplant Games provides an opportunity for transplant recipients and donors to come together to celebrate the gift of life. This year’s Games were held in Cleveland, Ohio from Friday, June 10 to Wednesday, June 15. The Games included over 6,000 registered participants. We interviewed a few HelpHOPELive families who attended and competed in the Games. Here’s how they described the experience.

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

Bill Soloway, 1-year post transplant, attended the Transplant Games

What made you want to attend the Transplant Games this year?

Transplant recipient Liz Casperite: I can’t remember the first time I heard about the Games, but I always knew I wanted to attend them after I received a transplant. In order to attend, you need to be at least nine months post-transplant with a doctor’s permission. The cutoff this year was October 1 and my transplant was on September 17, so we just qualified! Cleveland was my first Games, but it won’t be my last.

Liz’s living kidney donor Maria Weaver: As soon as I heard about the Games from my recipient, even before the transplant, I wanted to go! It sounded like an amazing event and a chance to keep exploring my new identity as a living donor while meeting more people in the transplant community.

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

The Games took place in Columbus, Ohio in 2016

Transplant candidate Pat McEntee: I first heard about the Transplant Games about a year ago when I met some members of Team Ohio at an event in Columbus. I decided I would attend as either a participant or a supporter. My wife, Amy, and I went as supporters this year and just enjoyed the event, meeting people, sharing our story and listening to others’ stories. The fact that the event was in Cleveland near my transplant center, Cleveland Clinic, was an added bonus just in case I got “the call.” I hope to be able to attend AND participate in the Games in 2018.

What are some of the things you saw at the Games that made you glad you went?

Liz: My donor and I spent time watching track and field and saw some amazing athletes who brought everyone joy and inspiration. There was a woman who ran her first 100-meter dash with the aid of her cane, and a 2-year-old whose dad had to hold him back until it was time to run. These athletes made me see there is nothing I won’t be able to do with my new kidney. My donor and I participated in donor/recipient bowling. We were teamed up with a donor mom and her friend. We had so much fun being terrible bowlers.

Maria: It made me happy to see all the donor families wearing pins for their loved ones and talking about their experiences. Many were able to meet their recipients at the Games and it made me happy to hear and see their relationships. I loved seeing the smiles of the last place finishers as they plugged along the track and the crowd went wild for them! It was all about being there. It was a privilege to talk to people in the “quarter-century club” who had had their transplanted organs for 25 years or more. We heard so many stories.

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

“We heard so many stories,” said living donor Maria Weaver

Pat: I was extremely moved by some of the stories I heard both during the Opening Ceremonies and just in talking to people I met. In watching the Games, I was impressed with the camaraderie that took place. After a hard-fought win in a close basketball game, Team Louisiana embraced members of Team Kentucky. It was nice to see people compete hard and win or lose with class.

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

“I was impressed with the camaraderie,” said Pat McEntee

Do you think events like the Transplant Games make a difference?

Liz: The Transplant Games made a difference for me because I was able to meet recipients who have had their transplant for more than 40 years and get their advice. I was inspired to train for more events for the next Games. The community was also inspiring. We told our story to many people – Uber drivers, waiters, really anyone we met. The manager of an ice cream shop was so inspired that she volunteered for five hours at the Games the day after we met her!

Maria: I DO! I felt like I was in a protective bubble full of all of the most amazing people in the country. People who were handed crappy circumstances or fear or tragedy let it shape them into strong people full of love. The strength and grace I saw…wow! Puts things in perspective. I posted a lot of pictures and stories to Facebook and I got comments from people who said they felt the love and inspiration just from seeing them. It helped them to see this during a week in which the news was full of tragedy. I came away completely inspired to go back to the Games in 2018, meet up with the amazing people I met and became close to so fast, and do more athletic events!

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

“I was inspired,” said transplant recipient Liz Casperite

Pat: I feel like people would come and enjoy themselves even if there was no competition at all. I think everyone realizes that the prize of additional life is already won, so what happens in the Games is inconsequential. Everyone still tries hard and competes hard for whatever reasons they choose, whether it is to honor their donor, celebrate the fact that they can participate or just to have fun.

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

Win or lose, “the prize of additional life is already won”

Is there an emotional element to the Games for you?

Liz: The Games was a very emotional experience. The tribute to living and deceased donors was amazing. I was very touched by the stories of the donor families we met over the week. I was inspired by a mom who donated the organs of three of her murdered sons and was still positive and spreading the word about organ donation. As recipients, we are all helping to keep their loved ones alive. We made some great new friends that I can’t wait to see at the next Games.

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

“The Games was a very emotional experience,” said Liz Casperite

Maria: I was on a high all week. I’ve never bonded so quickly with strangers. I talked to everyone I could, and hugged, and teared up, and high-fived them. It was really hard to leave, especially leaving my buddies from far away who I likely won’t see for two years. Being there with my recipient and getting to tell our story to people and walk in the 5K with her was priceless.

Pat: I was surprised at how emotional the event was. Even at times when I didn’t expect it, I found myself tearing up. The emotions of joy and laughter were also present throughout the days we spent there.

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

Pat and wife Amy experienced a range of intense emotions

How would you sum up the experience in 3 words?

Liz: Inspiring. Fun. Heartbreaking.

Maria: Love. Resilience. Celebration.

Pat: Joy. Camaraderie. Compassion.


What did the Transplant Games mean to you this year?

About The Transplant Games

The Transplant Games is open to athletes with any level of skill with games ranging from cornhole and basketball to track events and swimming. The Games welcomes first-time participants and veterans of all ages, like 4-year-old kidney transplant recipient Cooper, who finished the 23-meter dash grinning. The Games includes donors and recipients from all 50 states as well as multiple countries. There are 21 medal competitions in total and all are free and open to the public.

Transplant Games 2016 HelpHOPELive

The Transplant Games are open to donors and recipients of all ages

Did you participate in the Games this year? How was the experience? Tell us about it on Facebook.

How to Fight COPD-Related Stress

If you suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), you already know that your symptoms and flare-ups can fluctuate depending on a host of different factors. Did you know that stress and anxiety can intensify your COPD symptoms?

stress COPD HelpHOPELive Stress Awareness Day

Stress can intensify your COPD symptoms.

April 16 is Stress Awareness Day – it’s the perfect time to reconsider your relationship with stress. We spoke to April Norman, moderator of the HOPE for COPD a social support network that provides COPD sufferers with a private space to discuss their condition with fellow patients, caregivers and families. She offered her tips for combating anxiety to improve overall well-being.

Here’s what you need to know about stress and COPD.

Stress and COPD Are Naturally Linked

According to Dr. Chris Iliades at Everyday Health, COPD and stress almost always go hand-in-hand. “Everybody has an alarm system deep in their brains,” he confirmed in a 2013 article. “If your breathing alarm system detects that you’re not getting enough air, it sends out a warning that feels like a sudden rush of anxiety.” That struggle to draw air can create “a constant source of stress” for COPD sufferers.

HelpHOPELive COPD symptoms stress

Stress may exacerbate COPD symptoms.

A study published in Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine found that 41.7% of study participants with COPD experienced anxiety, a heightened form of stress.

Your COPD-related stress is not going to cure itself. In fact, the more COPD progresses, the greater the chances that you will experience COPD-related stress on a daily basis.

HelpHOPELive fight stress COPD

COPD-related stress will not disappear on its own.

The COPD Stress Cycle

If you suffer from COPD, you may already have experienced the “COPD Stress Cycle”:

  1. Stress causes your body to tense up.
  2. With tight muscles and a tense body, you struggle more than usual to draw in air.
  3. As you struggle to breathe, you experience heightened stress.
  4. More stress means more tension in your body, and the process starts over

Struggling with COPD Medical Costs

Medical bills may add another layer of anxiety to daily life for COPD sufferers. According to HOPE for COPD’s April Norman, sufferers may be blindsided by some of the costs associated with their condition. “My medications alone cost over $10,000 last year,” she said, “not to mention the out-of-pocket costs associated with supplements, vitamins, face masks, air purifiers, antibacterial supplies, and the rental, services, and supplies associated with an oxygen concentrator, expenses which many COPD sufferers must overcome.”

COPD medications meds HelpHOPELive

COPD medications can cost over $10,000 per year.

“These costs can easily exceed $1 million over a lifetime,” April said. “Even if insurance will cover most medical costs, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs will add up extremely quickly.”

Costs can include transportation and relocation expenses associated with a lung transplant. “Many hospitals have a ‘live within X miles’ request that they make to transplant candidates,” she said. “I live about 76 miles from my transplant hospital. In the winter, that two hours turns into four or more hours. The travel cost is around $130 for the round trip with gas, tolls, and food. These transportation costs add up.”

You will not be able to escape from the stress cycle without a conscious effort. Luckily, there are many ways to manage your COPD-related anxiety levels effectively.

10 Ways To Fight COPD Stress, Starting Now

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Get Help When You Need It

Always tackle your stress with the help of your support team. If you begin to notice symptoms of depression, such as lack of interest in your favorite activities or feelings of guilt and hopelessness, discuss these feelings with your doctor immediately. While a degree of stress is normal for all of us, COPD sufferers or not, stress or depression can severely disrupt your life unless you take the time to manage your emotions.

HelpHOPELive COPD stress less

You can learn how to manage and overcome your stress.

You deserve relief from COPD-related stress! Today is the day to take your first steps towards healthy stress management. How will you begin? Share your stress management tips with other COPD sufferers on Facebook or on Twitter.

Discuss breaking COPD research by following HOPE for COPD on Twitter, and catch April’s firsthand insights on her blog.