Closing the Circle - Giving Back to the Giver

For: Keith and Holly Howe
Organizer: Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
$10,756
of $10,000 goal
100% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

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Update from Tina - Did you know the outlook Keith has been given is not the best odds. Keith and Holly keep their attitudes upbeat and I have no idea how they do it. I would be a complete mess just knowing what I know. They really need our help more so than they will tell anyone so any little amount you can give would be so appreciated. It is serious the funny pictures and smiles are a big cover-up and pick me up as too what is really going on. Thank you. - See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/closing-the-circle-giving-back-to-the-giver/100184/update/98512#sthash.L17gvLd2.dpuf
Please Read! Please Share
Update from Tina - Did you know the outlook Keith has been given is not the best odds. Keith and Holly keep their attitudes upbeat and I have no idea how they do it. I would be a complete mess just knowing what I know. They really need our help more so than they will tell anyone so any little amount you can give would be so appreciated. It is serious the funny pictures and smiles are a big cover-up and pick me up as too what is really going on. Thank you. - See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/closing-the-circle-giving-back-to-the-giver/100184/update/98512#sthash.L17gvLd2.dpuf
Please Read! Please Share

Update from Tina - Did you know the outlook Keith has been given is not the best odds. Keith and Holly keep their attitudes upbeat and I have no idea how they do it. I would be a complete mess just knowing what I know. They really need our help more so than they will tell anyone so any little amount you can give would be so appreciated. It is serious the funny pictures and smiles are a big cover-up and pick me up as too what is really going on. Thank you.



Keith Howe has assisted so many of us by phone, by forum but, mostly by his support with Holly his wife right by his side. He and his wife need our help now, its time to give back. $1.00, $5.00, $50.00 to $1000.00 and all those amounts in-between.  This money will be used to assist with daily expenses for at least the next 6mths.

Keith started experiencing unusual symptoms last November. Many tests failed to find a cause, but did rule out lymphoma. Then in early March Keith had a hemorrhagic stroke - also known as a brain aneurysm - and was life flighted to Omaha.

The doctors still had no explanation and many additional tests were run, which provided no answers but did rule out lymphoma.

In April, Keith underwent a brain biopsy. Everyone was greatly relieved the biopsy ruled out cancer. It did point to an autoimmune disease. Late April they began treatment, Keith improved for a month or two but then plateaued then slid slightly backwards.

In September Keith started experiencing hip and leg pain. A new enlarged lymph node was discovered. Unfortunately this biopsy finally showed lymphoma.

The doctors immediately ordered the original biopsy from last December to be retested and now that they knew what they were looking for, they were able to identify lymphoma cells. So lymphoma has been present from the start and left untreated for 11 months. This damage can not be regained.

Keith's chemo regime will be very aggressive, involving hospitalization twice for a total of 10 out of every 28 days.

The doctors have said he may feel up to working one or two days a month but most likely not. The business will be bringing in no business, for at least 6mths.

Holly will be unable to find another job, because she will be in Omaha for Keith's treatment will need to be available to care for him. The Howe's have good insurance but that does not cover their day to day living expenses or travel for medical treatment.

The loses the Howe's are experiencing are beyond my grasp and so I ask for your help.

Professional Photographers of Nebraska Keith Howe - PPN member since 1978. Past president - PPN.

Professional Photographers of America - PPA member since 1980. PPA councilor for 9 years. PPA affiliate judge for 22 years.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on April 6, 2014 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
There is one day left on this fundraiser and Holly & I wanted to post a last update. First off we need to say thanks again to everyone. This fund raiser is what we have been living on for the last several months.  I said before but nobody can be prepared for the financial impact something like this causes. We grateful  to Blue Cross and Blue Shield for being a great company. I have been able to receive some of the best medical care in the world without worrying about how to afford it.  We are grateful to our clients who have been understanding and patient while I have been going through treatment. We are grateful to every one of you who have made it possible for us to concentrate on my medical care and not have to be stressed about how we were going to pay  utility bills or buy groceries. We are grateful to everyone who came to our rescue, either helping with a  studio job, bringing us food, scooping  snow, raking leaves etc. etc. etc. And we are grateful to everyone who gave us a reason to laugh these last six months. Laughter is what is getting us through this. I am as lucky and blessed as it is possible to be in my situation and it's our friends and even strangers who have made that happen.

Cancer takes a lot away from you but I am going to walk away from cancer with some stuff. Here is what I  am taking away. 

I never dreamed how many people really cared about me. I  had no idea how many people would come to my rescue. I wouldn't want any one of you to go through what I've been through but I wish you could all know what it feels like  to be on the receiving end of such an outpouring of support. 

When someone I know was going through a major life crisis, I used always  wished there was something I could do to help but I never knew what to do. Now I know  it doesn't matter what you do, you just do something. Just the fact that you cared enough to do something will be a huge emotional boost.

Happiness is a choice. I always thought that but now I know it from experience. And it gets easier with practice. The  odds they gave me were not good and my oncologist told me they were basically making up my treatment plan because they "wouldn't find any answers about my case in any book". But we choose to be happy and the more we concentrated on happiness the easier it got to maintain. Next time life deals me a crappy hand, it's going to be a lot easier to stay positive because of what I learned from cancer. 

We don't know for sure what's going to happen in the future. They tell me at least six months to get back to normal or to whatever  my new normal is going to be. I have one more week of chemo to go and then they will tell me what's next.  I am going to be dealing with follow ups and screenings for quite awhile. This is not something you can just put behind you. But I am going to focus on the good stuff. I think it's gotta be about our turn. 

Thanks again to all of you. You have been just as valuable  to my recovery as any  chemo. And considering I am getting close to $1,000,000 in medical costs since this all started, that makes you guys pretty darn valuable! 
Keith Howe 

Posted on March 27, 2014 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
The interesting thing about chemotherapy is that things that would normally be minor  become a big deal. A few weeks ago  Keith's nurse used some clear medical tape to fasten down his IV line to his stomach. He had a major skin reaction that is just now  clearing up.  it was itchy but also extremely painful if he forgot and scratched.  A few days ago he picked  up a cold virus. Normally It would be no big deal but with a compromised immune system from the chemo it's potentially serious. So he had to have blood tests and see the doctor. So far he is ok but if he starts running a fever, the case manager told us  today, that's an  an emergency situation.  It's like everything is magnified.   The other complication is balancing different medications. For example  Claritin D helps with the congestion from the head cold, but Keith is also retaining fluids as a side effect of everything they are pumping into him. Claritin D interfers with his being able to get rid of all that extra fluid.  As chemo goes on these petty annoyances intensify but  we are very close to the end  so hopefully with time things will get back to normal or at least whatever our new normal  will be.  Today Keith's primary care physician said that by July he will be dancing in the street. We told him what we really hope for is dancing in the apple orchard at our son Evan's wedding on May 31rst.  We are so grateful to the friends who still keep remembering Keith even though we are almost six months into treatment. Today he received a couple more cards in the mail and once again our spirits were  lifted. When we first got the diagnosis we felt so alone. But not for long. The outpouring of  support  showed us that's  not the case.  Our friends have our back.  And we are incredibly grateful. 

Posted on March 15, 2014 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
Keith is done with five out of six rounds of chemo. So he has a month to go, or two more hospital stays. He still is doing well and not experiencing most of the nastier side effects we were told to expect.  He does however get more worn out with every week of chemo. That's understandable because his red blood cell count is low from the chemo so it's almost like being anemic. So far he has avoided having to get any platlets and is somewhat able to manage the exhaustion.  He had a repeat PET scan four  weeks ago before the start of round five. While the cancer is not all gone  it was significantly reduced so we feel very hopeful that these last two rounds will do the trick. Because his case is so strange and out of the norm his chemo has been exceptionally aggressive. 

His reputation has spread around the med center and everyone looks to see what crazy hat he will be wearing each day. A big thank you to all our friends who  have  contributed to his hat and wig wardrobe.  From the beginning we made a choice to find as much happiness and laughter as we possibly could though this ordeal.  Those hats, wigs, stick on eyebrows and even the thigh high hose have all made the goal  of laughter a lot easier to reach. Our plan is to donate most of them to others in a similar situation once this is over. Hopefully they will make someone else laugh like we have. There are a couple hats that are really special, like the construction paper and glitter hat made by one of our little clients and a crocheted turkey hat made by a very dear friend. We won't be able to let those go. 

So now we start looking at our future. A future that five months ago we were told was "significantly less then 40%" a possibility.  The doctors are a lot more positive and  reassuring  now days. Anyway, we have been told that there a whole new set of challenges once treatment is over. They told us most people expect to be really happy  and their friends and family expect them to be back to normal. The reality is it takes a long time to recuperate and instead of being glad the chemo is over, you start realizing how many lingering side effects there are.  And some things never get back to the way they were. Because Keith has been so exceptional in his handling of the chemo, we are hoping that he will also have an exceptional recovery and be able to return to work sooner then expected. And we hope that our clients will come back and we will have a business again. 

Anyway, once again we need to say thank you to everyone who has helped us, either through this site or directly. No one can know what an illness like this does to your finances and how quickly your savings will dissapear. We are so incredibly grateful. I don't know how we would have been able to concentrate on getting Keith well if we didn't have your generous financial gifts to help us through this.  Instead of stressing about money, we are able to focus on maintaining a positive attitude.  The nurses keep telling us  that Keith's attitude is making a world of difference.  So thanks again and God bless every one of you. You are helping me keep the love of my life with me. At the beginning I told him I was going to cure him with love and laughter. I never dreamed how much help  I would get providing both of those things. 

Keith & Holly 

Posted on February 11, 2014 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
Keith had a little set back last week. He caught a cold which settled in the parotid gland in his neck causing an infection. He had a LOT of swelling and heat as well as pain in his throat and ear.&nbsp; Because his immune system is compromised by the chemo, any infection is potentially serious, so he was put in the hospital for two days for IV antibiotics. Luckily that did the trick and following up with ten days of oral antibiotics seems to have cleared up the infection. He is back in the hospital this week for the fourth round of methotrexate. Tonight he has a pretty bad headache but we&rsquo;ve learned to expect that during this course of chemo. Some Tylenol and an icepack keeps it down to a dull roar and by <span class="aBn" data-term="goog_552722660"><span class="aQJ">tomorrow</span></span> he should feel better. The latest development is his oncologist has decided to have a repeat PET scan <span class="aBn" data-term="goog_552722661"><span class="aQJ">next Monday</span></span> to see what progress has been made. The doctor doesn&rsquo;t express an opinion very often but we get the impression he expects there to be good news.&nbsp; Even if he gets a great report Keith will still have two more months of chemo and several months after that to regain strength, muscle tone and stamina he has lost&nbsp; to the disease and to chemo.&nbsp; So it will still be awhile before he can do more then an hour or two of work here or there. His medical team is very impressed with how well Keith tolerates the chemo and how he just seems to bounce back from whatever is thrown at him. We feel it has a whole lot to do with his positive attitude. And we have absolutely no doubt that its been a whole lot easier to keep that attitude because of the continuing support from so many friends and even strangers. Thank you all!&nbsp;

Posted on January 26, 2014 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
A update from Keith and Holly:

“Significantly less then 40%”
What the oncologist said on our first visit when Keith asked about the prognosis.
 
“I am pleased and think Keith will do well.”
What the oncologist told another one of Keith’s doctors this last week.
 
Obviously we are very happy and feeling more optimistic then we were in October. There  still are ups and downs and he is not out of the woods yet but things are going as well as they could possibly be in his situation. Keith started out last week with significantly high creatinine level which indicate his kidneys were irritated. An elevated level can postpone chemo treatments or indicate  potential kidney damage so not a good thing. But Keith’s level fell to the low end of normal range by the end of the week, so he is good to go forward.  This last week of chemo he gained 16 1/2 pounds in five days from fluid retention. That makes him pretty uncomfortable and increases the difficulty he has in walking because he legs and feet are so swollen.  Luckily that problem resolves itself after  five or six days off the IV. He has already dropped 7 pounds in just 24 hours. Each week in the hospital knocks him down a little further. It takes a little longer to regain his strength and he doesn’t come back quite to the same level he was before.  The effects of the chemo treatments are cumulative so that’s not unexpected. Its hard for Keith to not be able to help me with things. Today was a very nice day, so I went outside to rake up  leaves I didn’t have time to deal with last fall. Keith kept trying to help me even though I kept telling him to sit down. A client of ours drove by, stopped and helped me finish up, but Keith being Keith still kept trying to help.   We are hoping that he will be able to return to work at least part time by June or July.
 
Cancer takes away so much. So many big things like expectations for the future and ability to earn a living. So many little things like being able to dance at a friend’s wedding or carry a suitcase in from the car. Even though cancer has stolen a lot of what was great about our lives it hasn’t been completely without positives. You never know how many people care about you, how many people actually have got your back, until something like this happens. We are so grateful for the financial support.  Knowing we can cover our day to day living expenses allows us to concentrate on getting Keith well. Its one less stress in our life. But knowing that people care about us, are supporting us financially, emotionally and with their prayers....well it just lifts us up. So many people have told Keith his attitude is inspiring, but its  the support and caring of our friends and even complete strangers that keeps his spirits up, keeps his attitude positive.  We say thank you a dozen times a day to someone that holds a door open or serves a cup of coffee. It just seems too little to say to the people who have contributed so greatly to our quality of life. But thank you are the only words we have. We look forward to the day when we can bless someone else like you have all blessed us.

Thank so much for helping the Howes my friends! - Tina

Posted on January 6, 2014 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
Keith's body is making him slow down and not work but he is still mentoring and helping others.

Keith’s last round of chemo over Christmas really knocked the wind out of his sails. He still doesn’t feel sick but is very tired and easily winded.  So he is pretty much done working at all. He is filling his time with mentoring over the phone and helping other photographers with their competition prints. 

He and Holly are both very grateful that he doesn’t have any of the nastier side effects.  He is getting some loss of feeling in his finger tips.  They don’t know if that’s permanent or not.  With the start of the new year insurance will once again pay for physical therapy but Keith is just not up to it, so that will have to wait until after chemo is finished and he regains some strength and stamina.  The Neulasta  shots are the worst of everything  he is going through because they cause a lot of bone pain, especially anywhere he has ever had a bone injury. This time around it doesn’t hurt as bad though so he hopes  that trend will continue. 

Keith will return to the hospital on the 13th of January for 4-5 days. That will mark the halfway point of his chemo. At least that’s what they are hoping for. The doctor will never quite be pinned down on  how many rounds but the case manager says  probably 6, which would have him finishing up in mid April. Keith is very happy to be almost halfway through, but knows the toughest is yet to come because he has been told the effects are cumulative and each round gets a little harder. So far that seems true as he was the most wiped out this last time. 
 
By the time Keith has finished with chemo, his medical costs over the year and a half will exceed a million dollars. So far insurance  is paying well, but with the start of a new year comes a new deductible and co-pay. Their out of pocket expenses, with the new health care laws, now go to $12,650.   The chemo treatments are over $140,000 every four week period, so they will have a large medical bill  coming up right away as well as continuing expenses for travel to and from Omaha.

Posted on December 25, 2013 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
Then there is the Videos!

Hopefully I have them all in order... Keep checking out Keith's FB page for those funny hat photos! https://www.facebook.com/keith.howe?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151856070526235

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151858468521235

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151860865901235

Posted on December 25, 2013 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
Profressiaomal Photographers of America also did a blog story on Keith and Holly Howe, check it out.
http://www.ppa.com/ppa-today-blog/

Posted on December 25, 2013 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
WOW the Howes made the News!
http://www.ketv.com/news/local-news/Neb-couple-spreads-holiday-cheer-at-Omaha-hospital/-/9674510/23646190/-/prlh5d/-/index.html
The holidays in full geer and they are still doing their best to spread cheer.
Please share with all you know.

Posted on December 18, 2013 by Tina Gunn and many others who the Howes helped.
Lets send some cards to fill the hospital room!

Keith Howe
Oncology/Hemotology Special Care Unit
982405 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-2405

He will be there until the 27th

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