Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Flames of Light - PH Awareness Month

Veterans Day always falls in the midst of Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. So it is especially noteworthy that we salute one of our most beloved caretakers, Delmar Gerth, 90, as he celebrates Veterans Day this year. That he served in France during World War II adds to the holiday's significance.

In 1947, Delmar, also a Lutheran pastor, met his wife, Mary, who's 84. In 1994, when she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, Delmar became her primary caregiver. Last June, they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Both attribute their lasting marriage to inner strength and their faith in God though anyone who knows them can see how crazy they are for each other. Their commitment to one another, especially in light of Mary's struggle with PH, is extraordinary. According to their daughter Luann, Delmar's devotion to Mary is inspiring. "He takes care of organizing my mother's medication every Saturday," says Luann. "That's over 350 pills a week."

Delmar also has taken on the job of applying for two grants every year, grants that give Mary access to medications that would normally be cost-prohibitive. "Those drugs - and my father's dedication to doing all that he can to help her - have made it possible for my mother to live longer than what the doctors originally told her."

In addition to his grant-writing skills and the time Delmar devotes to Mary's medication regimen, he takes care of getting her to multiple doctor appointments, including numerous tests and procedures. "We were both brought up to stick together through thick and thin," says Mary. "He's my team captain."

For the rest of this year, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association's Midwest Chapter will be celebrating life with our "Flames of Light" end of year campaign. We ask that you start thinking about what makes your life bright. For example, Mary and Delmar have 65 years of marriage. She has 84 candles on her birthday cake plus one for good luck. It can be something as simple as the number of lamps in your home, the windows that bring in the sun each day, or the logs in your fireplace that warm your home and light hearts as all gather around during the holiday season. Look for the details on creating a bright future for PH within the next few weeks.

With smiles and warmth throughout the season,

Lisabeth Gansberg
Executive Director, PHA Midwest Chapter

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