Trisha Barton, TX
I first heard about Diane on Michael W Smith's FB page. We became friends. When I found out she would be traveling through Texas I decided to find a way to get her to stop in my small town of LaPorte. After a few messages back and forth, she agreed to stop in for a night and it turned into three! We went to my church Wednesday and God saw to it that she gave her testimony... so many lives were impacted. People stayed after and a long line formed to meet her and of course Gracie. On Friday, she spoke to several classes at LaPorte High school. It was amazing! So many students came up to tell her what an impact her message had on them. She has a wonderful way of connecting with people of all ages and attitudes! It is hard not to want to hug her and let her know she and Gracie are loved and have caused healing because of their message. It was a great few days that I'll treasure forever. Paul and Diane are down-to-earth, genuine, sincere people who want to help those who are hurting. It was amazing to watch them minister to all ages everywhere we went.
Their mission in life is to provide hurting people with the knowledge that they can “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS”. That is hard to do sometimes, but when you look at Diane and see what she is going through, you can know that God is there through thick and thin and will bring you through the storms. I wholeheartedly recommend that you go to www.DianeDike.org. Get to know her. Once you do you will want to tell others about her remarkable story. She needs us just as much as we need to keep her out and about speaking of God’s goodness and raising awareness about CVO. She has an incredible message! To know Diane is to love her. I've joined SCwSG/CVO's volunteer Dream Team. I'm thankful to be apart of this important outreach, using my gifts and talents to be all I can be. I'm helping to transform the world and you can too!!
I don't have cryo but have had the pain of fibromyalgia and all the other symptoms that go along with it for almost 40 years.
Amazing and Talented Volunteer Dream Team
Chet Gladowski, FL
Prayer Team and Blogging Leader
D. Sean Velarde, CO
Melissa Simpson, UT
Hats for Hope
Laurie Thomas, IL
Social Sites Manager
Shelley Brandon, MI
Grief and Encouragement Coach
Michelle Simpson, WY
Prayer and Administration Team
Wendy Vineo and
Susie Stapp, WY
Susie's Radio Interview
Marja Rolfes-Lemson, Netherlands
Card and Bookmark Team
Mary Eickemeyer, MN Overall team support and Goodsearch Queen
Your name here!
Stephanie Douma de Vries, CO
Overall Team Support and Artistic Design
I’m a widow. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knew everything about us before He placed us in the womb. For most of the last 13 years that elicited from me the response of, “Gee thanks, couldn’t You have found a better way?” I’ve always known that I was adopted, but at the age of 34 I learned the rest of the story. My birth mother was date raped in college. I was conceived in an act of violence.
When my birth mother discovered she was pregnant, decided that marriage to this monster would be better than being pregnant at the age of 19 and unwed. His response was to give her a check for $200 and advise an abortion. She took the money and bought a ticket to Arizona to stay with an aunt and uncle where she decided to place me with an adoption agency.
She was also afraid she would come to resent me if she saw any of him in me. I have a good relationship with my birth mother and her children now, and I thank God daily for her sacrifices.
For me, being adopted came with a subtitle: “Not Good Enough To Keep.” The self-fulfilling prophecy of “not good enough” played out in many areas of my life.
At the age of 22, I married for all of the wrong reasons. I was convinced that I wasn’t good enough for anyone else; if I didn’t marry him I would be alone for the rest of my life. You can see the sadness in my wedding photos. Three years later our son was born. When my little boy was 3, I filed for divorce. When the emotional, verbal and mental abuse escalated to physical abuse to my little boy, I knew that I could no longer stay in this charade of a marriage.
During this time of upheaval and chaos, I had an affair with a man that I’d known for many years. He was married, but told me constantly that he was getting a divorce. I just had to be patient. He was also mentally and emotionally abusive. Beaten down to a shell of insecurity and fear, I didn’t know what to do when the physical abuse started. Whenever he was high on cocaine, he would beat me up. If it weren’t for God I would be dead. He used my boss to save me. My boss could see through the heavy makeup and the age-old excuses. He transferred me from the central Nebraska town I’d grown up in to the corporate offices in Denver.
In Denver my life became calm, and the views of the mountains in the distance became my safe haven. God provided me with a townhouse and a church two blocks away, a job that I loved, a good environment for my son, and friends who quickly became like family. After a year, a position opened up in my department for a field technician. When I told my boss that I wanted it, he made sure that I had enough support to get it. At the age of 30, I became the second woman in the company to achieve the rank of Corrosion Technician! God provided me with a company truck and a pink hard hat. I really was an American girl working in my Daddy’s world. The position also came with conferences to attend.
It doesn’t take much to imagine the excitement level of a corrosion conference … zzzzz. At the first of these conferences in Casper, Wyoming, I did manage to find something interesting to occupy my time. My eyes wandered repeatedly to the man in front of me. It was at this time that I heard the still small voice of God for the first time. I didn’t like what He said. “This is the man you’ve been waiting for. ”Excuse me??? I’m not waiting for any man, thank you very much. My life is just perfect the way it is. Besides, he hasn’t even said, “hi”.
Of course you know what happened, this incredibly handsome man said, “Hi.” OK Lord, very funny! My answer is still NO. I truly believe angels were rolling in the streets of gold holding their bellies, tears streaming down their faces as God said, “Watch this!”
It took Larry a whopping five and a half weeks to ask me to marry him. Eight months after we married, our world rock. His first wife died unexpectedly from pneumococcal pneumonia. She dropped their two very young sons off for New Year’s weekend and never came back. It was during this time that I heard that voice again, I prayed, “Oh Lord, what will I do if she doesn’t survive? I don’t know how to do this!” God replied, “This is why I brought you here.” I became the full-time mother of three confused and traumatized little boys.
Blending a family under the best of circumstances isn’t easy. By definition, a blended family means that children have been traumatized. We made one very important ground rule in the beginning. The word “step” was not allowed. A step is something you walk on; it’s not a person. We were a family. Period. Our youngest son was born six years later. There is no such thing as a half person. God made people in His image, whole people, no halves.
In 2008, our world rocked again. We had two sons in college, one was a senior, and the youngest was in second grade. On Nov. 3, I had a complete hysterectomy. On Nov. 6, we found out that my husband had a brain tumor. He lost his ability to speak for short periods that day. No other warnings that there was an insidious cancer eating away at the core of one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever met.
On Nov. 8, 2008, the tumor was removed. There would be three more surgeries to remove the unstoppable cancer, along with chemo and radiation. Two of the surgeries were in Germany, 10 days apart. For one year I watched as this amazing man, who had loved me unconditionally – no changes required – for 14 years, slowly die one day at a time. In the end, he was paralyzed completely on the right side. He could no longer talk except for a few one-syllable words and, “I loved you, too.” I will never know if it was because he knew that he was dying or because that was just the way the words came out.
On Nov. 8, 2009, I crawled into the hospice bed and held Larry in my arms for two hours and 13 minutes while his body labored to deliver his spirit into the hands of Jesus. The morning of the 8th he’d had his left arm raised to heaven, reaching for his Savior. That afternoon he’d been gesturing with his left hand and speaking something under his breath. While everyone else was at church, I sat beside him and talked about how we’d met. I told him again how much I loved him, how much I loved being married to him, and that being his wife was the best part of being me. As I held his hand and talked to him, a single tear rolled down his cheek. At 10:13 p.m., I became my worst nightmare – a widow.
The path that led me to Larry was necessary for me to become the woman that was perfect for him. The path I am on now is necessary for me to become the woman that God is creating me to be for His glory. My pain and struggles have made me a stronger more compassionate woman whose greatest desire is to help others find the grace and mercy of a healing and loving God when they are hurting. Without God I am nothing. With God there is no limit to what I can accomplish.
I met Diane Dike, Ph.D. through Patsy Clairmont’s Facebook page. We were both frequent visitors, and Diane noticed the pain and heartache in my comments. She sent me a friend request, which I gratefully accepted, and she has been a daily source of sunshine and inspiration. Her beauty and love for the Lord, her courage and her devotion to Gracie, Paul and foster children, everything about Diane told me that I could and would keep going. Diane’s loving friendship for me, a woman she’d never met, helped to begin to heal my broken heart. When she invited me to join the Second Chance volunteer team I immediately said YES!
Second chances, third chances, fourth chances… These have been the story of my life. The common thread in each of these stories is God’s grace and mercy, and HIS unconditional love. If I can help one other person find their Second Chance in the arms of Jesus Christ, everything I’ve gone through will be worth it a thousand times over.
I am a member of the Prayer Team, a writer, a crotchetier (cuddle blankets), and a certificated Grief Coach. Through SCwSG/CVO, I will use these gifts and training to reach out to others in grief and help them start their journey toward healing that is found only in God’s loving embrace. Diane wants to help make my dreams come true.
It is an honor and a privilege to be part of this wonderful ministry. I am so excited. Psalm 121:1-2: I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
I was expecting an amazing encounter with God, the weekend of October 11-14, 2007 at The National Day of Prayer Task Force Prayer Summit, in Colorado Springs, CO. I had finally surrendered to God, after years of arguing with Him, and agreed to become a local coordinator for the National Day of Prayer. I was overwhelmed and under qualified, but God had provided the means for me to attend the Summit and get some training. This was my first trip to Focus on the Family headquarters and I had already planned what I would go see on our break, Whit’s End! Whit’s End was closed so I opted for my second choice, the bookstore. God had a plan, a Divine appointment as He always does!
As I wandered around, out of the corner of my eye I saw a beautiful, vibrant young lady with the light of Christ radiating from her. She was motoring around the bookstore in her wheelchair. Instantly I was drawn to her. Drawing closer I noticed a soft-grey, doe-eyed Italian greyhound on her lap. My heart leapt at the thought of making two new friends! I introduced myself to this bundled up Spirit-filled lady. Her name was Dr. Diane Dike, I learned that she had a rare, incurable blood disease that caused her blood to become thick when she got cold. God had provided her Gracie, to provide warmth and service. She had just written a children’s book, The Adventures of Gracie and Diane; Gracie Comes Home. It was the story of how God sent Gracie to her. Touched and wanting to share the story, I purchased two of her books.
Two years later at the 2009 National Day of Prayer Task Force Prayer Summit, I was excited to be returning to pray for our Nation, military, families, clergy, media, businesses, and education with prayer warriors from around the country once again. I never forgot the Divine encounter two years before, and I continued to pray for Dr. Diane Dike. Could I hope to see her again? God had a wonderful surprise, Diane rolled by. My friend encouraged me to go over and say “Hi”. I was sure she would not remember me and was very reluctant, but the building up of a fantastic Godly friend can do wonders for one’s courage! Timidly I spoke to Diane. Wow. To my surprise and delight she remembered me and was genuine even saying she was hoping to see me too. I was so excited to reconnect. I found out that she was one of the guest speakers and had a booth. Throughout the weekend we visited; I adjusted my schedule to attend her break out session. As the weekend drew to a close, Diane gave me her email address and asked me to contact her. Brimming with self-confidence and having great faith in my fellow man, I gave her my email address and told her to contact me. I had been down this road a time or two and did not expect to ever hear from her again.
About a month after returning home from the prayer summit an email I did not recognize showed up in my inbox. It was a personal message from Diane! We began to correspond and became fast friends. As I prayed about our National Day of Prayer event God kept prompting me to ask Diane to be our keynote speaker. May I say that I had looked into other famous Christian people to come to our tiny little community and the cost was astronomical! With God’s urging I did, finally, broche the subject of Diane’s availability to speak and the cost to bring her here with little hope of it being a reality. (You can clearly see God has had to do more than a little work on me in the trust department!) Not only was Diane available but also she was more than willing to work with our budget on the cost! Not only would she and Gracie come but with her enthusiasm she was able to convince me that I could step out of my comfort zone and approach our schools, libraries, and civic organizations to have her speak there allowing the travel cost to be defrayed among several groups. To make a long story short, Diane was an AMAZING keynote speaker. She spoke at our middle school, at three churches and taught a class to our emergency medical responders.
Diane’s energy and enthusiasm have helped me to believe I can be all God created me to be! As the Administrative Assistant, Prayer Team Leader and more at Second Chance with Saving Grace. I help others understand the importance of prayer, Bible study and the importance of building a personal relationship with God! I am now a true believer that all things are possible with Christ who lives in me!
I am a former teacher. Graduated from Northern Illinois University, in 1983 with a BA in elementary and special education. I’m constantly amazed reading Diane’s Facebook wall posts, the issues that she has gone through personally, with family and how she was there at the end for her Mom, best friend Jan, Jan’s husband Dave, and last but not least, Diane’s precious service dog Gracie during her cancer ordeal. I know that Diane is the "real deal" and to see that kind of love pouring out, even after all she has gone through, is exceptional. Diane’s life experiences help us all to keep our own pain in proper perspective and to realize we can help others to find God and bring them closer to Him no matter what tough times we may be experiencing. We just need to be willing to reach out.
Shortly after I met Diane online, I was recovering from a hysterectomy and a blood clot when she surprised me with a gift of hope and encouragement by way of a SCwSG “Love Kit.” It was exciting to receive her books, a t-shirt, the card, bookmark and Gracie baby. Her autobiography, “God Made Only One Of Me” inspired me to use my own hard times for good and it was nice to know that there was a group of people I’ve never met who cared about what I was going through. This made me feel special and loved!
We became forever friends and I wanted to join the team to help her and SCwSG/CVO to “spread the love.” The way she has struggled and yet overcomes serious daily challenges brings healing to my soul. Diane helps me realize that I too can "be strong and courageous" – words Diane posts in her messages. I see Diane and SCwSG/CVO team members as compassionate and loving people. Each member takes time daily to pray for one another as well as others who are going through tough times. And anyone who understands what a gift a 2nd chance can be is welcome to join the team and share their gifts and talents to help hurting people and animals. Wow.
Diane's goal is to help make your dreams come true. She is helping make mine come true by allowing me to write, share encouraging prayers, help manage the Facebook and other social site pages, and to share my rhyme – some thoughts and lessons to be taught: Freestyle writer, wanting to make the world brighter, a freedom fighter. I hope to help others understand Attention Deficit Disorder and the challenges people with ADD have. Ready to shine God's bright light and share that helpful insight with what I write.
My interests include: church, photography, writing, arts and crafts, scrapbooking, community fests, volunteering and traveling. My Mom is from England where I taught students. I am blessed with many lovely family memories. Thank you Diane for caring enough to reach out to me, send me a “Love Kit” and welcome me to your amazing dream team. The best is yet to be, I do believe.
GO TEAM, GO!!
Director of Hat's for Hope! Melissa has been a valuable prayer warrior and a member of the Fellowship of Second Chance volunteer dream team for some time. She's stepping up to put her skill of hat making to use for God's Glory with SCwSG/CVO.
The hats will make a GREAT addition to our outreach for people suffering with cryoglobulinemia vasculitis, cancer patients, various ailments and as a fundraiser. The sky is the limit.
Visit the store for to see her beautiful Hats for Hope!
"THANK YOU Michelle Simpson for sharing your wonderful daughter Melissa with us!! It is so exciting to see the team grow, mothers and daughters serving together, making memories and offering help for hurting people and animals!" -Diane Dike, Ph.D.
From my earliest memories, I attended church. Raised in Baltimore, Maryland, a city that has more churches per capita than any other in North America, I had going to church down cold. I knew all the right things to say and do. I had memorized the entire service, all the prayers, what I was expected to do or say. I even figured out the best place to sit to quickly leave and avoid the traffic jam in the parking lot.
Growing up, I tried to do what was right, but failed at every turn. I would ask God’s forgiveness, but couldn’t even get that right. I would talk about things on the surface, but not the core problems that festered deep inside of me.
In high school, I made friends by joining the basketball team, a handful of guys who seemed radically different from anyone I'd ever met. Though certainly not perfect, there was just something about them. They treated one another like the real friends I so desperately wanted and needed. They befriended me, inviting me to play basketball at their church on Saturday mornings.
On one fateful day, in the parking lot of a bowling alley, Michael told me that God loved me. I cursed and told him God was responsible for all of my problems, an arrogant attempt at denying any personal accountability. But deep in my heart I knew I was wrong. In spite of my angry response, Michael said he absolutely knew God loved me because Jesus had died in my place.
Michael invited me to come to a youth meeting where, for the first time in my life, I heard people talk to God as if He was really there. The conversation was real and heartfelt as they shared their hopes, hurts, needs, pain and joy. I felt absolutely crushed and started to weep uncontrollably. They had something that I desperately wanted and needed, but had no clue on how to get. So, for the first time in my life, I actually spoke to God. Through my tears of shame and guilt, I said that I did not know God but desperately wanted to. I had this gaping hole in my soul that failed to fill at every point.
Michael, Howard (the youth pastor) explained the incredibly good news that God wanted a relationship with me. The three of us knelt down, and I agreed with God that I was broken, lost and could not fix myself. I told God that I needed Jesus to repair and restore my relationship with Him and my personal brokenness. I asked Jesus to become my Lord, my Savior and my God. With tears of release, I knew for the first time in my life that I was truly forgiven.
I walked out a new man in Christ, radically transformed. Several areas of my life were immediately transformed, for which I am truly thankful, and others I struggled with for years. God continues to mature me, pointing out areas that need to come under His greater control. I am so thankful to God for His patience and kindness to me.
I first heard of Second Chance with Saving Grace when Diane visited Christ Community Church in Winter Haven, Florida. I got a chance to speak with her about how God was moving in/through her life and her calling to this ministry. Since that time I've been following SCwSG through the website and Facebook. God has been moving in my life and calling me into full-time ministry. I included Diane in my blog and e-mail distribution. Her words of encouragement and appreciation meant so much as I started from scratch.
Hopes and Dreams
I am humbled that God has gifted and called me to teach the Bible in a very real, practical, interesting and culturally relevant way via technology and the Internet through SCwSG. To that end, I’ve created GLAD Associates with a unique vision and mission to reach people with the believable good news about Jesus Christ.
Everything God brought me through has been to bring me to this unique time and place with SCwSG. My hopes and dreams are to be a unique and valuable resource to SCwSG, encouraging both staff and the people they serve. I am so excited and look forward to sharing the love and grace of God through writing, prayer and Bible teaching on behalf of SCwSG.
Our dear and blessed friend with a kind heart and an abundance of knowledge. For several years he has been helping us better serve hurting people and animals. He protects, guides and gently teaches us. I'll never forget our first conversation. We made an immediate connection and before long his beautiful daughter featured Gracie and I in her school report about heroes.
Soon we spoke at her school and forged a plan to meet the students at the Denver Children's Hospital where they helped us with Free Story time and Love Kit give-a-ways all year to bless and encourage those dear children and their families getting treatment. I'll never forget what one mother said during a visit. Pulling her little child in a red wagon, tubes, IV's in tow, and with tears in her eyes said, "I'll never forget this day as long as I live. It's the first time my son has smiled in months. Thank you!"
Sean helps to make these moments possible.
Sean has developed a diverse practice, concentrating on business planning and transactions, where he provides corporate counsel advice to individuals and businesses in business transactions, including contract negotiations and preparation, registration and management of trademarks and copyrights, protection of trade secrets, employment and consulting contracts, buy-sell agreements, licensing issues, and tax planning. He also has substantial experience in litigating complex business cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts. He frequently assists his clients in the legal aspects of creating and expanding their businesses as well as buying, selling, and reorganizing businesses through mergers. Mr. Velarde has significant experience in creating C- and S-corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships. Mr. Velarde also has created an OCC compliant bank subsidiary to a nationally chartered bank and advised the bank's officers on regulatory OCC compliance matters.
Mr. Velarde is a member of the American Bar Association (Litigation and Intellectual Property sections) and of the Faculty of Federal Advocates, and a Fellow with the Colorado Bar Foundation. He also is a past member of the board of directors of the Colorado Lawyers Committee (1996-1998) and of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association. Mr. Velarde has been named as a lifetime member in the National Registry of Who’s Who.
Before joining Burns, Figa & Will,Mr. Velarde served as judicial law clerk to The Honorable Daniel M. Taubman of the Colorado Court of Appeals. Mr. Velarde is admitted to the bar of Colorado and the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. He received his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University in Business Administration, with an emphasis in accounting.
Greetings from MN! I am a member of the amazing Second Chance with Saving Grace/CVO volunteer team. I help Diane with the Foster/Adoption outreach work by gathering supplies, toys and items from the wish list and shipping them to headquarters in Colorado. I'm helping the children's outreach department by sharing my love for creative fun with children through posts in the SCwSG blog called, Making Memories with Mary. I'm also a grateful member of the prayer team. Prayer is important to me and has been a constant factor in my life. I grew up attending church and can remember praying by myself when I was 3 years old. I also remember praying hard when I went to a new school when I was 5 years old. It was that moment on the steps of that new place that I felt the power of God in my life which is a major reason I love to work with children. I come from a family of faith with one of my ancestors coming to this land in 1644 from England as the result of persecution because he was a Quaker. However, that does not mean that my family was perfect. Like the vast majority of us, I grew up with adversity and conflict. Jesus is my rock through it all. I've been surrounded by Christian friends and their parents who could see what I could not and helped me in ways that I only realize now. All of this has come into play through my college years and well into adulthood. God has led me and continues to lead me through times with my own sons and having adult children living at home.
I also come to the realization that anyone can be a blessing from God to others with words of encouragement, prayer, and a caring attitude. That is what I try to do by sharing SCwSG/CVO information on Facebook and with my friends. I became involved with Second Chance with Saving Grace through online connections with Christian friends. I know that God is blessing Diane and our team with many opportunities to help hurting people and animals while offering everyone ways to share their gifts and talents with a family that is making a difference in the world. I look forward to all the ways God will use me to transform lives through the many outreach efforts of SCwSG/CVO.
Founder/President of SCwSG/CVO
Diane Dike, Ph.D., and her adorable service dog, Gracie, CO
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Serving SCwSG/CVO has been one of the greatest joys of my life! It took about 10 minutes for me to fall in love with Diane and Gracie, and over the years that love has grown deep and strong!
God has worked in and through me and it has been an incredible blessing to experience all the gifts God has given Diane firsthand! We visited SCwSG headquarters many times and shared incredible memories with the Dikes and their growing family. I look forward to all that is still to come.
My nickname: the Dutch Tulip. I was born in Schiedam, the Netherlands in the 1970’s. I’m the oldest of 3 girls in a protective family. I’ve had a history of being tired, having headaches or being nauseous. Doctors couldn't find anything, except when I was 9 that I had acute appendicitis. In those days parents weren't allowed to stay with their kids, so I was all alone.
After that, I always was a nervous person, scared of everything that involved being sick.
On Sundays we went to church twice in an old house with a few families. In 1977, I had difficulties with concentrating in class and went to “household-school” for 4 years. I started dating Rien, my husband when I was 18. I felt safe with him. Up until the day we got married in 1991, I always doubted if I loved him enough. Yet he always stayed by my side. This doubting was part of me, even in my faith for God.
I visited a few counselors and they where able to help me some, but I’ll always be me, I think. When we were married I started to get more depressed and had health issues. It took us 4 or 5 years and a lot of tests until finally God gave us Martijn in April 1996. I ended up in hospital with pre-eclampsia. Martijn was turned the wrong way…. so the gynecologist had to do an emergency C-section. There I went, I thought I would die. Finally pregnant and almost a baby, and I would die. But God helped me through it and after a horrible week I was allowed to go home with Rien and Martijn. It took me so long to get better. I started to sink through my legs and had to crawl, I was so horribly tired.
The doctor couldn't find anything and so we went home, frustrated and worried. I felt sick, like you have the flu and every muscle in your body hurts, and the throat too. Finally, I saw a TV program with a man telling about his health issues and I recognized myself in it! It was called CFS. So we went looking for a Dr who knew about this illness and I went through several tests. Blood tests came back ok, no horrible diseases there, all the other tests were ok, so he said: when all else is numbered out, the only thing left is CFS. They said they couldn't do anything about that, but only help me fight some of symptoms. I got meds to ease up the muscle pains and that did work somewhat. All that time I never became angry with God just hopeless with my body. Later on we discovered that I had food allergies. So no milk, products with milk, egg, shrimps, crab, lobster, pineapple, strawberries, kiwi’s and a few other things. God always provided! Even in the financial issues. There was always (just in time) enough money to pay medication, bills, etc. God is so good!
In 2005, I became a member of the website of Michael W. Smith, joined the prayer team and made so many good friends, Diane was among them! We had a blessed time! Last year a mutual friend found out that he had lymphoma. Diane sent a Love Kit that blessed him and his family. Someone in our church, made it possible for Rien, Martijn and me to go over to visit Mark in Ohio, for 1 week. Wow, 3 plane tickets, a hotel, and a rental car. Mark was just released from the hospital that day. He had no one to help him, again God provided.
I “stumbled” upon Second Chance with Saving Grace/CVO and joined the prayer team. I’ve been praying for the outreach work, team members and making the bookmarks for Love Kits and fundraising. It feels good to help others. Knowing what it is like to have a chronic illness builds a bond with the team members, CVO group and those we try to help. Blessed are all those who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18
All pictures and stories used with permission.
Mystery Diagnosis TV is where I first heard about Diane Dike, Ph.D. As my late husband and I sat there watching we were stunned to know that she had the same rare disease, Cryoglobulinemia, that my husband had. Her story was heartbreaking and I immediately felt a kinship with her. I knew then and there that I had to get in touch with her. It was like a door had opened for us and I thought that maybe if I could talk to her she could shed some light on this for us as to what we were facing and what our options were. We had been to numerous doctors and they didn't have any answers. I had done some research via the internet in hopes of finding some answers but was discouraged when I didn't learn anything new. I was on a mission. I had to know more about this disease and so I searched on the internet for Diane and found her story and a site that I could visit to learn about this.
I joined the CVO support group. Visiting this site, I saw a few people that were members and read their comments and some shared their stories. What a blessing! What a relief to know that I was not alone. Yet alone was what I felt like most days. Now, here was a place that I could go to to find friendship and comfort. The people welcomed me with open arms and I accepted their love and kindness and much needed support. Loosing my husband was devastating and they encouraged me and helped me by letting me share my story.
I didn't share at first that I had lost my husband Jack because I felt that this might discourage them. Jack suffered for 14 years with cryo along with Hep C, Raynauds syndrome, Renal failure, an Aneurysm in his brain and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Hypertension. Along with all of this he suffered a stroke and began to have seizures. At one time he was taking over 250 pills a week. I could not possibly tell you the feeling that I had watching him suffer through all of this and knowing that there was nothing I could do to make him better. I always thought that I could control everything or at least prevent bad things or unforeseen things from happening and when he became sick I quickly learned that I had no control over any of this. I was scared and afraid of the unknown.
I thought my life was planned out, or at least I had it planned it for us as he did. We would raise our children, play with our grandchildren, maybe do a little traveling and spend our golden years rocking in our chairs on the front porch. Life has a way of turning around and suddenly your world that you had dreamed of had other plans for you. You don't understand it and you can't comprehend it and you can't find a peace within yourself to know that somehow any good is going to come from it. When you see so much suffering of the one you love.
He was a strong man, a superintendent for a construction company. He would tell you in his own words "I was finally at the top of my game and look at me now". A father of 4 children, 3 girls, a son, and 2 grandsons. We were married for 31 years. As my daughters would tell you, their dad knew everything or at least they thought he did. He was firm as a father and he was a great story teller and could always tell a good joke... you could always count on him when needed.
We loved to hear him laugh and that made us laugh. He was 53 when he passed. I remember that the last words he said to me before he went into surgery. I will never forget them, he said "Debbie you know why I do all this? I do it all for you and my children." Many times he cried and wanted to leave this world because of his pain and he thought he was a burden to me. I prayed to God above to let me keep him forever. I would tell God "you don't need him as much as I do". He fought until the very end. God knew that Jack was tired and he needed to rest. I try to somehow find some comfort in this knowing that he is finally at peace and resting after so many years of being in pain. It is hard to let go because I see him everywhere, I hear him in every song and every night I still want to reach over and touch his hand and hold it until I fall asleep.
Through all my sadness and pain I found new friends with the CVO group and they have been my fortress. I have never met any of them but I have talked with a few by phone and some through the internet. I hope that I can somehow lift their spirits and encourage them to continue to fight on. My hope is that we will give this disease and many other rare diseases a voice and be heard so a cure may be found.
Debbie Patrick Kellum, GA
In Memory of Jack Kellum
RIP January 2011
Blooming where I'm planted. Stephanie Dawson, aka Mama Steph, is a retired nurse turned blogger. She also suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic pain after a work injury left her with limited mobility. She was looking for a way to keep her mind active and still help people and stumbled onto PosMed and never left.
After meeting Dr. Diane Dike over the telephone she decided she had to be a part of the SCwSG volunteer team too. Diane invited her to be the Co-Director of the Fibromyalgia Outreach team. She is devoted to her family of grown up kids with a second grandchild on the way, her sister/best friend, nieces and nephews, and many others.
Stephanie is a huge fan of healthy cooking and is practicing her urban gardening skills. She also likes to crochet, loves motorcycles and cookouts, and anything that involves personal growth. Life is all about embracing the changes, exploring the possibilities, and blooming where you are planted.
I found SCwSG/CVO and Diane through the internet and I'm so glad that I did. Caretaker Wellness was born out of the desire to help others find solutions, answers, information, resources, services, products, doctors, and other people providing loving and effective care to family members.
This is my caregiver story. Without any prior warning, the uncertain news on a wintry December morning in 2007 caught our entire family by surprise. Dad's doctor called him to instruct him to go to a hospital as soon as possible. His latest blood work warranted further testing. Having had a close call almost 19 years earlier with a major heart attack, my father did not argue with his doctors! He promptly informed my mother that they'd be going to the hospital that morning. She knew better than to question Dad's instructions when it came to his health. She still remembered vividly the day that Dad had told her that they needed to get to the hospital asap - no explanation given, just the sense of urgency calmly but clearly conveyed as he drove while having a heart attack.
After about 3 eternal days of testing and awaiting results, the diagnosis came: Dad had multiple myeloma. The Big C. A blood cancer, rare and incurable. While on one level we were all numb with shock, we wasted no time learning about his disease, searching for information, treatments, medications, and a prognosis. Of course, what we wanted to hear was that Dad was going to be ok, something that his doctor could not possibly say.
Our family focused on taking care of Dad any way each of us could. My brother and sister, who work full-time and volunteer helping their community, initially coordinated doctors' visits, trips to the dialysis center 3 days a week, shopped for groceries, picked up medications, visited him at home and in the hospital. I searched for information and resources, and coordinated care and services from out of state. I also flew home for 4 weeks to provide respite for my brother and sister, who found it difficult to leave work whenever Dad unexpectedly needed transportation. Our mother remained beside Dad day and night, accommodating him as best she could and speaking up for him until his last breath 4 months later. We were a great team, free from personal friction or conflict because we focused on Dad - only on Dad - and because we respect and appreciate each other.
As Dad's condition worsened, my husband started having severe pain in his right toe. It spread to the heel and partly up the calf before he was diagnosed 5 months later with CRPS - Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - a condition which causes the nervous system to malfunction, sending erroneous "messages" to different parts of the body, mostly perceived as burning pain. CRPS also impacts blood circulation, perspiration, body temperature, muscle movement and how the body reacts to the environment. Changes in air pressure and temperature as well as vibrations can cause immense pain throughout the body. CRPS can also cause your organs to malfunction, including the lungs and heart.
My husband had to give up his career as a result of CRPS because the pain prevented him form focusing on his work, thinking clearly or remembering what he was reading. Indeed, a sad reality for someone who prided himself in his ability to think quickly and to solve difficult problems.
My job as his wife and primary caregiver was to make sure that he was as comfortable as possible - given the never-ending pain. He and I became a team - a Dynamic Duo of healthcare - determined to find ways to keep him doing as much as he could for as long as possible. Between his research skills, my creative thinking and our resourcefulness, we have managed to carve a new way of life that has purpose and meaning. Disability has become a challenge the we have met head-on. Our resolve to make something good come out of this situation is greater than any obstacle that CRPS can throw our way. Together, and with the support of our loving family and friends, we will continue to spread a message of hope to all who must move mountains every day in order to simply exist.
Caregiving Cafe was created out of the need for family caregivers to find health and caregiving information, resources and support in one place. It aims to help caregivers better manage their caregiving tasks and to also encourage them to take care of themselves.
Lynn Greenblatt, TX
Director of Caregiver Wellness Outreach
I learned about Diane and her charity through a volunteer website while looking for volunteer work for a college class. I was bedridden due to a recent surgery and couldn't do any outdoor community work, so the chance to volunteer for a great Christian organization and do graphic design work was too good to pass up!
After a wonderful phone consultation with Diane, I began making banners and promotional items, helping to spread God's word throughout the web and world. Working for Diane has been a great inspiration and joy. I encourage anyone looking for a safe place to share their gifts and talents to connect with Diane. I look forward to helping her and this outreach for a very long time!
My husband is in the military and I so appreciate the opportunity to be the Hope and Encouragement Graphic Designer reaching the world with God's love! Diane sent me a LOVE KIT while I was recuperating from surgery, it really encouraged me and now I'm thankful to pass that hope and encouragement on through my graphic work. She's a real champion, praying for others and offering friendship while giving us all an opportunity to build our portfolios with this important work.
I have about a year and a half until I finish my degree. I received my associates this past December and am looking forward to finishing off my bachelors.
Ashley Perry, NC
Hope & Encouragement Graphic Designer
Radio Interview to come
I met Diane through Facebook. She has a wonderful support group and we became instant friends forever. I sent her my story and desire to help others and she invited me to join the volunteer team and lead the way in helping people in their native language. She immediately set up the world's first Spanish Cryo support group.
In the last 5 years, I have had two transient ischemic attacks (TIA). I have cryoglobulinemia vasculitis like Diane. My legs/extremities receive poor circulation, you add the peripheral neuropathy and it became a wheel chair sentence. I also use a wheeled walker but it is very difficult. I end up with my legs severely hurting and bruises on lower legs and feet. To top it all, I just lost my only companion, my assistant dog Valentina. I do live alone. I prefer to keep my independence for as long as possible.
My dear friends, I know that many of you have gone through difficult things. I can only imagine all the suffering. Add to this society’s discrimination and even our own family’s lack of empathy due to lack of knowledge or simply because they get fed up with so many medical issues, to the point where we get called hypochondriacs or a mental case. Also the fact that most doctors don’t have the knowledge or even the desire to deal with our rare medical issues and our lives get all messed up. It’s a constant fight for survival and even the most basic needs of human existence.
Thanks to Diane and her organizations that allows us to come together and share knowledge and support is the only reason I am able to keep my sanity and self-respect. I sincerely thank all the people who support us without judging and not expecting much in return except an honest friendship. To the people who are willing to keep an open mind and are able to seek information to help out. THANK YOU.
I am grateful for the chance to volunteer with CVO, offering information, support and encouragement to all interested in learning more about cryo especially through the world's first Spanish speaking CVO support group. And thank you to those who have been so patient as to hear a little of my story. A warm embrace to all of you!!!
Elba Gigante Mundo, FL
Spanish SCwSG/CVO Outreach Leader
Radio Interview to come
Diane Dike, Ph.D. is an award-winning speaker, singer, author, certified foster/adoption mom, CVO spokesperson and humanitarian who is known for her inspirational, humorous and joyful spirit. Diane is a radio host who is regularly featured in a variety of print, radio and TV syndications around the world.
As founder and president of Second Chance with Saving Grace and the Cryoglobulinemia Vasculitis Organization Diane is impacting the world for good and helping people cope with medical issues. She is Oprah's OWN and Discover Health's Mystery Diagnosis TV, "The Woman Whose Legs Turned Black." All ages connect with Diane, who knows what it is to be broken, homeless and hopeless.
She was an elite athlete, teacher, professor and coach when pain became her constant companion at the tender age of 23. After suffering for three years she was finally diagnosed with a debilitating, rare incurable blood disease called cryoglobulinemia vasculitis for which there is no cure.
In the midst of her despair, Diane found the secret to happiness and she shares that secret daily around the world while challenging people to "Stay Strong and Courageous-no matter what!" Diane is an expert in perseverance and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Diane's experienced terrible tragedy, yet prevails with uncommon courage, her husband, Paul, her growing family and her rescued Italian greyhound service dog, Gracie. Against all odds she lives a life of impact, purpose and victory.
She's dedicated her remaining days to being a light in the darkness, and helping as many people as she can! She'll dare you to do the same with a smile, a service dog and a second chance. Schedule them to speak at your event. (Diane is a member of AWSA, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and recipient of the Invisible Disabilities Advocate 2008 Inspiration Award). Click to: review her Media Kit; order her books; contact her booking and/or book agent.