Giving for Gwendolyn

$15,472raised of $30,000 goal

Beneficiary: Gwendolyn & Robert Westlund Organizer: Pamela Rocco & Friends

Gwendolyn is a 32 year old loving wife and devoted friend from Willowbrook, IL who desperately needs a heart transplant, and your help.  Her journey thus far has been incredibly difficult, and one health concern after another has plagued her since she was in her mid teens. 

In 2002, at the age of 21, Gwendolyn was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of lymphatic cancer that affects the lymphatic and immune system.  She was treated with surgery and radiation therapy, but unfortunately her “cure” would end up causing nearly as much long-term damage as it did short-term good. 

Gwendolyn’s cancer was successfully subdued and she entered remission in late 2003, thinking that her battle had been won.  Unfortunately she would spend the next 5 years dealing with a variety of health problems from chronic bronchitis, kidney stones, hiatal hernia, ulcers, infections, etc.  Tragically, in 2008, after a long history of health problems, Gwendolyn came down with double lung pneumonia.  After nearly two weeks of hospitalization and antibiotics, she was diagnosed with heart failure due to a prolapsed mitral valve caused by scarring from her previous radiation treatments.  During a diagnostic test, Gwendolyn reacted poorly to the anesthesia, and during the procedure her heart stopped unexpectedly & was dead for near 2 minutes.  She was successfully revived, and from that point forward kept her health in control with a healthy diet, cardiology checkups, and medication.  Gwendolyn showed improvement from 2011-2012, and once again thought that she’d beat the odds.

In May 2013 while at work, Gwendolyn suddenly fell ill and knew immediately that it was her heart.  She was taken to the ER at Good Samaritan Hospital, and after a week of tests and second opinions, she was transported to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn to receive specialized care for advanced end stage heart failure.  Within 24 hours, a Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD) was implanted, the following 2 days they needed an aortic and mitral valve replacement to combat her cardiac failure.  The device caused problems with the right side of her heart and an external Right Ventricle Assist Device (RVAD) was implanted for the majority of her stay.  She endured four separate heart surgeries, was under sedation for 8 days, and remained hospitalized for over 2.5 months.  Gwendolyn is now on the national registry for a heart transplant and hopes to get “the call” at any moment. 

Gwendolyn has been a responsible & caring member of society for her entire adult life. She’s worked throughout most of her ailments and provided for herself & her two younger siblings as if they were her own children, being their surrogate parent for over a decade.  Before her heart failure, Gwendolyn was a dedicated volunteer to many organizations.  She participated and volunteered for causes that she believes in and has been active with cancer research fundraisers, Look Good Feel Better, Toys For Tots, World Vision and has even helped organize fundraisers for neighbors in need.  She’s always the first to jump in, the first to say “yes,” and the first to rally a team for whatever cause she’s involved with. 

Before falling ill for the third time, Gwendolyn was blessed to be able to marry her biggest supporter, her caregiver, and love of her life, Bob, in October 2012. With all that Gwendolyn has been through, the last thing that she and Bob should be worried about now is how to pay the bills.  Between May 2013 & October 2013, Gwendolyn’s portion of medical bills, prescription costs, insurance premiums, and co-payments, deductible & co-insurance have added up to over $150,000 and the couple is drowning in medical debt.  When “the call” finally comes, the costs of her heart transplant and related hospitalization, home care, & recovery will further add to what feels like an insurmountable debt. The average cost of a heart transplant surgery, pre & post op testing, & recovery ranges between $750,000 - $1,000,000 and depending on your insurance a good majority of that expense is the patients responsibilty. 

As friends of Gwendolyn and Bob, we’ve started this campaign to try to play a small part in helping to alleviate their financial stress.  We want them to be focused on Gwendolyn’s health & recovery, and not on unrelenting creditor calls and a flood of medical bills. 

If you’re able to help with a donation of any amount, please click the “give now” link on this page.  If you cannot donate online, please feel free to send a check, money order, or even a few dollars to the address listed below and reference “Giving for Gwendolyn.” Even $1 helps and is appreciated.

Gwendolyn Westlund
11s514 Rachael Court
Willowbrook, IL 60527

If you have any questions, or would like to support Gwendolyn with a non-monetary gift, please feel free to contact me via email at  

If you are unable to donate but still want to help, please share this campaign and help us spread the word. 

Thank you and 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.

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