We couldn’t have done it without you!
We don’t know where to start! The fundraiser was a huge success but it wouldn’t have been without so many friends and family! Special thanks to Lori Kole and Hillbilly Arms for the great entertainment, James Castelli our wonderful host and Doug Levvis our auctioneer, who travelled from Calgary just for our event!
Take Part of Me reached our fundraising goal and we are no longer in need of any donations! Our hearts go out to all of you who supported our efforts. We are so grateful knowing that when Lisa and Benji are out of surgery, the recovery is all they will have to focus on!
One of the reasons our fundraiser was so successful is because of Shannon Robin of Shootin the Breeze. Her story was one of the best written articles that we have seen to date. When the paper became available in print and online my phone was ringing non stop! Thank you Shanon for bringing so much awareness to Lisa and Benjis situation!
Young couple prepare for live organ transplant
Monday, 28 September 2015. Posted in Shootin’ the Breeze
Young couple prepare for live organ transplant
Lisa and Benji Husband are preparing for a liver transplant next month, with Lisa receiving a gift of life from her husband.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Husband
Take part of me
By Shannon Robin
Lisa my love, your life has been anything but easy. As we stand here today, I know in my heart, that I was truly sent here to save you. From this day forward, I promise I will be anything you need me to be …
“I truly, truly believed this,” says Benji Husband of the vows he made to Lisa Davis on their wedding day, four years ago. The words have taken on even greater meaning as the couple have dealt with Lisa’s escalating health issues.
“I’m not a big believer in soulmates, but it’s crazy that we ended up together,” Lisa says.
Lisa grew up in Lundbreck, and few were aware of her medical struggles. Her mom, Dawn Davis, still lives there, while her dad, Bob Davis, lives in Cowley.
Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as a teenager, Lisa has developed primary schlerosing cholangitis (PSC) overlapping with hepatitis B, and needs a liver transplant. After a long wait, she was listed last January for transplant, and is now preparing for surgery, which is tentatively booked for Oct. 19 in Edmonton.
Lisa’s mom assumed she would be a match as a living donor, but after much testing it was determined that she was not an ideal candidate. It was devastating when she received the call at work, and it still brings her to tears.
“They said, ‘You’re not going to be the match,’ and I just stood there with the phone in my hand and didn’t know what to say,” Dawn says. “I remember phoning him (Benji) and saying, ‘It’s not me.’ He said, ‘It’s OK, I’m going to keep testing.’ ”
The young couple have dealt with Lisa’s illness through their entire relationship, and when a transplant became the only option to keep Lisa alive, Benji didn’t hesitate to offer all he had. He assumed, at first, that he would be a support person and caregiver, but didn’t waver when they learned he was the best match as a living donor.
Dr. Bertus Eksteen has been treating Lisa since 2011. He is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Calgary, and a transplant hepatologist at Foothills Hospital. He specializes in PSC and has one of the largest clinics in the world.
He says PSC is completely incurable and is caused by an overactive immune system. “It’s important to stress that Lisa’s illness is not related to a bad lifestyle,” he says.
Lisa feels Dr. Eksteen saved her life when he replaced her surgically-implanted j-pouch with an ileostomy four years ago.
While it was a life changer, Lisa has struggled with a loss of self-confidence since this surgery.
Benji is understanding. “Women tend to have more self-image issues than men, and it’s been difficult for Lisa.” He notices changes as her acceptance grows. “I know she’s overcoming all these obstacles and I’m really proud of her for that. Everyone has accepted her for who she is, but it can be hard for her to see that from the other side.”
As a result of the liver disease, Lisa’s body feels like days are nights and nights are days. She struggles at times to maintain focus and deals with short-term memory loss.
“We’ve been through stuff that no couple should ever go through,” Benji says. Their love for one another and the joy they share in being with one another is what keeps them together.
Now, they can begin to look forward and to see a new, bright future that is more than a dream. They are counting the days until the transplant.
Benji’s surgery is a big one. “The biggest impact for him is that he will need to regenerate and regrow half of his liver,” Dr. Eksteen says. “Your body needs a lot of energy to do this, and there will be an increased demand on his body during this time.”
“Lisa will have a much tougher time of it,” he adds. “It’s a very, very big surgery to get through for somebody who’s already sick from liver disease. Her chance of not surviving is about 12 per cent, and there is a 20 per cent chance of very significant complications such as infection and rejection, to the liver just not working.”
It will take a year after the transplant before Lisa is fully healthy. “This will place additional strain on the pair of them,” says Dr. Eksteen. “Benji will be tired and not where he was for six months, and he will need to care for her for another year. They will need supportive family and friends.”
This support appears to be in place. Dawn will stay with them in Edmonton and Calgary as a support person, as will Benji’s mom, Loreen Husband of Dauphin. This means considerable time away from work, but both say they have very understanding employers who are willing to accommodate their needs and absence.
“I think about it every day. It’s pretty scary to see two of them going in at the same time, but I know they are in good hands,” Dawn says. “We can say we’re strong moms all we want, but those will be our babies in there, and somebody’s going to need to pick us up when we fall.”
“Because it’s a severe disease over a long period of time, it often leads to the breakup of families, loss of friendships and breakup of marriages,” says Dr. Eksteen. “Leading up to a transplant, people often ail for many years. It’s also financially penalizing, which places huge stress on the family.”
Lisa and Benji were counselled that 90 per cent of couples do not stay together through the transplant process.
“I gave him an out before we were married,” Lisa says.
Benji didn’t take it. He didn’t even consider it.
“We are very proud of him,” says Loreen. “There is a lot of mixed emotion. To risk his own health, safety and security for the woman he loves is huge. He walked into this with his eyes open, and it validates that we taught him to be a giving, loving person.”
Dr. Eksteen sees possibilities for Lisa and Benji. “It will open up new things for them,” he says. “Neither have been able to follow careers, and Benji has dedicated his life to her. They haven’t been able to plan a family, and this now becomes a realistic option. This is a hope for them to really start living and building their lives and careers and family.”
Benji is anxious in this time leading up to the surgery, while Lisa feels scared. “I’m not scared of the surgery, but I’m scared of what comes afterward,” she says.
“I’m anxious,” Benji adds, “but for the first time in a long time, I’m happy.”
It’s easy to think of their story as one of a damsel in distress and her knight in shining armour, but Benji says there have been some very dark times in the past five years. They’ve lived in constant fear of Lisa’s disease, and now there is light at the end of the tunnel for them both.
“I’m not sure it’s a good thing, but I don’t think I’ve ever accepted that death is a possibility,” Lisa says.
Without hesitation, both Lisa and Benji say that a perfect day for them in the future would be to have a baby.
“All Lisa has wanted is to be a mom, and this disease has taken that away from her,” Benji says. After a healthy recovery, starting a family together is their next dream. “She needs to be a mom, and that’s going to happen,” he adds.
They are also excited at the prospect of giving back and helping others once they have recovered.
Lisa knocks on the wooden kitchen table while saying she hasn’t been in the hospital for about five months. It is important for her to be as healthy and as strong as possible in these weeks prior to the transplant.
Benji has learned to administer medication and monitor for side effects. “It took a very long time to get onto a good antibiotic plan,” he says. “Nurse Benji was giving her antibiotics night and day, and finally after so much trial and error they’ve found something that’s working. Now we just need to make it to the 19th.”
They are grateful for the flexibility and support that Benji’s employers, Errol Nystrom and Dale O’Brien, have offered. A donation made by their company left Lisa and Benji in awe.
Sandy Paterson of Pincher Creek has been instrumental in spearheading fundraising and awareness for Lisa and Benji.
Sandy learned that behind Dawn’s smiles, something devastating was happening — her daughter was dying. “I was heartbroken. She asked if I could help her. I cried,” Sandy says. “Raising money to help Lisa and her husband … was a small but meaningful challenge that I gladly accepted.”
Sandy put her skills and connections to work. She came up with the name Take Part of Me, created a website and asked country recording artist Lori Kole to write a song. Dawn began writing a blog, a Facebook page was created and a GoFundMe account was established.
You may even recall a pirate passing out eyeballs in the Pincher Creek parade. On them was a link to www.takepartofme.net, where people can learn more about Lisa and Benji, and about liver disease. That pirate was Sandy.
With help from Daryl Burton and Dawn, she has organized a fundraiser this Friday evening at the Lethbridge Lodge to help the couple with their financial burden. It includes dinner, silent and live auctions and music by Lori Kole and Hillbilly Arms.
A highlight of the evening will be the debut of Lori’s song and video.
“It’s going to hit a lot of people,” Dawn says. It’s their whole story wrapped up in a song.”
Sandy isn’t finished yet. “Next up is film. The story of this young couple has touched me and everyone around them, with awe-inspiring courage and love. It’s what movies are made of. And, I will make it so.”
If you would like to attend the fundraiser or donate an item or service for auction, or to contribute in any way, Sandy says it will be greatly appreciated. Tax receipts are available, and Dawn can be contacted by email at Husbandsfundraiser@gmail.com or by phone at 403-627-8397.
A Lethbridge couple is thanking the community for their support during the most challenging time of their lives.
In July we shared the story of Benji Husband, who is helping to save his wife Lisa’s life.
Benji found out he was he was the perfect match to donate a portion of his liver to Lisa. The couple, their friends and close family have been fundraising since then to help with costs post surgery.
Their original goal was to raise $25,000. However, a successful fundraiser has helped the Husbands so much that they’re no longer accepting donations.
Benji says, “It’s a thank you to everybody who’s not even just supported us financially but even those positive thoughts. If people are thinking about our situation, you know, for us that means a lot because you know we feel that energy.”
“If anything, we’ve made a lot of friends and that’s the most important thing is just to have that support around us is more than money can do,” explains Lisa.
Lisa’s health problems began with Ulcerative Colitis more than 10 years ago. An auto-immune disease attacked her liver and it has been failing ever since.
The pair will be heading to Edmonton on October 26th for their liver transplant. You can learn more about the couple by visiting Take Part of Me on Facebook.
Thank you to all of these individuals and businesses that made our night a success!
ps: If I have forgotten someone please let me know!
Back Country Butchering & Out House Restaurant – Cowley, AB
Castle Custom Trucks
TSN & Craig Button
Relephant Media design
Shootin the Breeze Pincher Creek
Date with your MP Candidate – NDP, Liberal,
Green Party- Kas Macmillan
Salvage Solutions Pincher Creek
Jennifer Vanderplas Photography
Signed Flames Jersey
Centre Peak High Country Adventures
High Country Western Wear
TSN Swag Bag
Cara’s Creations FB
Burton & Company Ch Acct
Rumors Salon Taber
Serenity Body Peircing
Castle Custom Trucks
Bev Bruder, The Phone Lady
Rustic Arrow Creations
South Hill Jewlery
Sandy Sharp/Val Sherwood
Val Sherwood, Sandy Sharp
Waterton Golf Course
Dauphin Source for Sports
Barb St. Goddard
Lori Kole is a Canadian country recording artist and we had the pleasure of meeting her and her husband. They read Lisa’s story and were touched so deeply that they wrote and produced a song which cuts to heart of everyone that hears it! Lori Kole and HillBilly Arms entertained about 200 plus people at the charity benefit that took place on the 2nd of October.
Lori Kole with Lisa, the evening of the fundraiser.
Hello friends…I’d like to introduce you to a very special young woman. Lisa Husband. Last night along with my band, MC James R. M. Castelli & a team of amazing people in Lethbridge Alberta, we helped raise funds for Lisa’s upcoming surgery scheduled for October 19. She is receiving a liver transplant. Her husband and FELLOW DAUPHIN MANITOBAN Benji Husband is her donor. To help create awareness for their fight, my husband musician/producer Barry Driedger and I wrote and recorded a song, it’s their story titled Take Part Of Me. Please log on to www.takepartofme.net -read her story and please help this couple through the recovery period. The song will be available on iTunes to follow. #life #donors #takepartofme #give