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Giving for Gwendolyn

$13,537raised of $50,000 goal

Organizer: Pamela Rocco Beneficiary: Gwendolyn & Robert Westlund

Gwendolyn's family & friends are uniting to raise money to offset the cost of an LVAD, a heart transplant & ongoing medical care due to heart failure. Please show your support & Give for Gwendolyn!

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Fundraiser Details

My friend Gwendolyn is a 32 year old loving wife & devoted friend who needs a heart transplant. She has always put her needs and wants secondary to others. She’s all but raised two of her younger siblings, while working & ill, surrogate parenting and providing for them for over a decade. She’s been the first to jump in, to start the rally, to give her last dollar to cancer research, toys for tots, or a neighbor in need. Now, it’s our turn to give back to this amazing & courageous young woman.

In 2002, at the age of 21, Gwendolyn was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma & treated with surgery & radiation therapy. Unfortunately, her “cure” would also cause more scarring on internal organs & future ailments.

In 2008, after a long history of stomach issues, kidney stones, extreme fatigue, and various bronchial infections, Gwendolyn came down with pneumonia and, after nearly two weeks of hospitalization & antibiotics, was diagnosed with heart failure and a prolapsed mitral valve due to the scarring of her heart from the previous radiation treatments. The doctors did an angiogram to ensure that there were no other issues and, unfortunately, Gwendolyn did not take to the anesthesia well; her heart stopped during the procedure and she needed to be revived. For a short time, they had things under control with diet, cardiology checkups, and medication & she even started showing signs of improvement through 2011-2012.

In May 2013 while at work, Gwendolyn suddenly feels ill and knows she has symptoms of heart failure and immediately gets to the ER at Good Samaritan Hospital. After a week of tests & second opinions, she is told she needs to be transported to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn in order to give her specific care. Within 24 hours, a Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD) was implanted, along with an aortic & mytro valve replacement to deter her cardiac failure. The device caused an issue with the right side of her heart & a temporary Right Ventricle Assist Device (RVAD) was implanted for the duration of her stay. Gwendolyn had a total of 4 heart surgeries, was initially sedated for 8 days and hospitalized for 2 months.

Gwendolyn is now listed for a heart transplant and will hopefully get “the call” any moment. She is strong and proud and wouldn’t ask for help, but she is also kind and gracious and would bend over backwards if she thought it would make a difference to anyone. She is lucky enough to have her wonderful husband, Bob, who has made a huge impact on all of her caregivers, as you cannot help but see the overwhelming love the two of them have for each other. They were married just October 2012.  

Now that you know a little bit about her and the wonderful person she is, we implore you to donate; to find that last dollar, or skip one coffee run, to pass this on to everyone you know, so we can help Gwendolyn & Bob offset the overwhelming medical expenses for her continued care. Between May and December 2013 those medical bills, prescription costs, premiums, and copays have accumulated to roughly $150,000.

If you can not donate online, please feel free to send a check, money order, or even a few dollars to the address listed below & reference Giving for Gwendolyn.

Gwendolyn Westlund
11s514 Rachael Court
Willowbrook, IL 60527

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at and I'll do my best to help you out. You can also email directly from the webpage,, or if you have trouble finding the page, email me and I'll send you a direct link.

Most importantly please pass it on & ask others to share the message!
Give it up to Giving for Gwendolyn.

Thank you & God Bless!

Special Thanks to Rob Baker at Photogenic Chicago for the stunning "before" pictures he took of Bob & Gwen at their wedding in October 2012.

Contact the Organizer


by Pamela Rocco
Posted 4/2/14 by Gwendolyn Westlund

Well another month come and gone and spring is "technically" here. I had my biopsy on March 25th and results were negative, which is great! Blood work looked good too.

Slight step back this week, I've been feeling ill the last few days and Monday I had a low grade fever, congestion, sinus headache, aches, chills, & dry cough. My home nurse, Danuta, called the transplant team & they had me come in yesterday to check on me, ran labs & my white count was high. My wonderful husband had to take a half day to get me there and back and of course take care of me...thank you God for Bobby...I truly hit the jack pot on that one. I was given broad spectrum antibiotics, and will hopefully be better in another day or two. Otherwise, back to the hospital. All symptoms are the same today. I'm sure it's just a bug.

Good news, since biopsy was negative & heart seems to be taking well, my prednisone has been lowered another 2.5 mg daily. Yay!!

Unfortunately, they take me off of or lower one med & then generally need to put me on something else. I gained 2 more vitamins, 1 new prescription for blood pressure, and they upped the dosage on my migraine medication.

I'm also still dealing with some weight gain & puffiness, which will hopefully start to subside with lowering the prednisone. Still having issues with the shakes, weight, fatigue, and migraines, which could be from any of the pills, a combination of them, or just from the stress on my body from multiple surgeries & anesthesia.

Again, the doctor's keep telling me at 6 months patients generally should start to feel and see improvement, and at 1 year most can expect to feel better than they have in at least a few years. Thus far I don't know that another 4 weeks is going to make a huge difference in how I feel, but everyone is different and I just heal slower than most, but it's something to look forward to...especially since my 6 month birthday & my actual birthday are both at the end of April, so we'll have a weekend celebration.

My next biospy should be April 22nd & will hopefully be clear again & I will be moving on to phase 2 of my recovery, which will include cardiac rehab in May, though they keep bumping it back. I have a social worker coming this week to see if there's any assistance available for rides to Christ in Oaklawn for rehab, so I'm praying she'll come up with something because finding rides 3x a month is hard enough, 3x a week...nearly impossible. For the time being, my home nurse and physical therapist are still coming a few times a week. Any changes along the way, I'll update again. 

Bob and I are doing well together, thank God I have such a loving  & supportive husband. My mom and my in-laws & extended family, my neighbors - Ken & Stacy & their family, my friends - Rob, Chuck & Sherry, Pam & Matt, Tina & Donna, Lyzzi, Ray & Amanda. Really everybody who's shared the fundraising page and asked others to share and pass it on, everybody who's donated, everybody's who has prayed....Thank you!!! God Bless You!!! I love you all for everything and please just keep on doing it. I'd also like to thank Parkview Christian Church for opening my eyes and heart to a spiritual connection that I thought I'd lost and for welcoming me and Bob with open arms back into the fold and making us feel at home.

Be Well, God Bless, & Much Love. I'll post again soon with updates.

Gwendolyn W.

by Pamela Rocco
Posted 2/27/14 by Gwendolyn Westlund

Happy New Year everybody! Holy smokes, it's crazy that it's almost March. I feel aweful I haven't posted an update in so long. I was hospitalized again in January with some kind of infection and horrible migraines...they did a spinal tap to rule out encephilitis and meningitis. No fun at all, but it was clear so that's good news. It's been a month with no severe problems and no rejection so things are looking up. 

February 25th was my last biopsy & it marked my four month anniversary for my new heart! It was negative, which means my prednisone level comes down another 2.5mg. Super exciting because every time they lower my dose my shakes lessen & my hopes of my moon face dissipating becomes more of a reality. I'm very excited about this!

In general I'm feeling okay. I wish I could say great, but that's not true. Still a lot of kinks to work out & it's day to day. Transplant team says 6 months I should start really feeling better, especially once I start cardiac rehab. I can deal with feeling okay most days - it beats the alternatives. : )

Now I do a monthly biopsy, unless of course there's a problem, which we don't anticipate. I still have tests & follow ups with other specialists for blood clots and uterine cysts, prednisone induced diabetes & hypothyroidism, infectious disease immunizations, etc. But that's all part of the deal and nothing I can't handle...just time effort and finding rides.

For now the transplant team wants to keep my home nurse and physical therapist coming, at least until they clear up the blood clots in my legs, then they'll start cardiac rehab. They're thinking they'll start me in late March or April. That'll be three times a week in Oak Lawn. Rides will be harder to come by at three times per week, but maybe I'll be able to drive by then.

Anyway, luckily Bob and I are doing well together. I have such an awesome husband and am so loved by such a wonderful family. My mom and my in-laws, my neighbors - Ken & Stacy, my friends - Rob, Pam & Matt. Everybody who's shared the fundraising page and asked others to share and pass it on, everybody who's donated, everybody's who has prayed....Thank you!!! God Bless You!!! I love you all for everything and please just keep on doing it.

I will do my best to post again soon, seeing as I seem to be feeling a bit better.

Be Well.

Much Love,


by Pamela Rocco
Poste d 12/17/13 by Gwendolyn Westlund

Well it seems my overnight stay for surgery turned into a week long hospitalization. I was admitted on the 6th & I wasn't released until December 12th. With minimal immune system I managed to get a bronchial infection and my white count was elevated. In order to have the surgery on the seroma, which was scheduled for Monday, the infection needed to be rectified immediately. My seroma surgery was successful and with any lucky it won't reoccur. I also gained another leg clot and unfortunately will have to be on blood thinners longer than expected.

I have another biopsy today & hopefully all will be clear and go well. Say a prayer for me and I'll update again soon. Thank you to all of the family, friends, and those unknown to me for the love, support, and prayers! Please feel free write words of inspiration or just say hello in the comments section. I'd love to know someone out there is getting my updates.

Be Well.

Much Love, Gwendolyn W. 

by Pamela Rocco

Posted on 12/5/2013 by Gwendolyn Westlund

December 5, 2013

A brief update to bring you up to speed on the happenings over the last month.

I have now had over six biopsies and fortunately have only experienced mild rejection thus far. Though we did need to adjust medications rather agressively a few times and I was readmitted twice, things seem to be calming back down. I have also been dealing with two blood clots in my left leg, along with a significant seroma near my inner hip, both of which will hopefully be corrected in surgery on Tuesday, December 10th. I should not need to be hospitalized for more than a day or two, or so I'm told, but could very well be outpatient.

We all know how quickly things can change though, so please keep us in your prayers and we will post again next week as soon as we know how the next surgery goes.

I will do my best to post an update when something important comes up & Bobby will text as needed. In the mean time please continue to pray and/or think happy thoughts!

Just so you are aware subscribing for updates will get you an auto alert when a new post is made, so you are always kept current.

Much love, Gwendolyn W.

by Pamela Rocco

Posted on 11/01/2013 by Gwendolyn Westlund

November 1, 2013

I would like to start by announcing that I did, in fact get “the miracle call” last week and on Friday, October 25, 2013 at approximately 8am I was given a new lease on life with a successful heart transplant! The stars must have aligned as we were only hoping to be moved up on the list, (giving us better odds for 30 days) and by the grace of God, I got a heart that morning. 

Everything seems to be running much smoother with the transplant recovery. Yesterday I had the first biopsy for rejection, results were negative, and so we are off to a promising start. We will try to post updates as they become available but for now all we know is the average hospitalization period for transplant is 14 days. We all know how quickly things can change though, so please keep us in your prayers and we will post again as soon as we have something definitive to share.

As I lay here recovering my heart is filled & I am overwhelmed by the abundance of love and generousity that have been shown to Bob and me throughout the trials with my heart disease. Please continue to share this link and support all of us in this effort!

More than anything I just want to let everyone know how incredibly blessed we are to have all of you and how overwhelmed we are with this gift of hope & love. Over the next year in particular we will likely have a minor bout of rejection, some possible illnesses due to my immunosuppressants, and weekly checkups. I will do my best to post an update when something important comes up & Bobby will text as needed. In the mean time please continue to pray and/or think happy thoughts!

Just so you are aware subscribing for updates will get you an auto alert when a new post is made, so you are always kept current.

Much love,
Gwendolyn W.





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