Monday, March 18, 2013

Photo of the Week

Wait a second!  Did I forget to write "Puppy" Photo of the Week?!  No, I am not mistaken.  Milton is getting bumped today for a higher cause.  Today's photo is of a very good friend of mine, Anny.  Anny and I grew up together in upstate New York, and we have always been very close.  She and I met way back in kindergarten when we rode the same school bus, and our big brothers introduced us.  Throughout the many years we have known each other, 23 years now, we have always had an awful lot of fun together - swimming in Owasco Lake, eating ice cream from Tom Thumb's, and playing with our dogs, Lady and Brutus.

Pretty lady

Anny and I share a lot of commonalities, except for one.  She has cystic fibrosis (CF).  Since meeting Anny, I have always known that she struggled with this illness.  In case you are unaware, cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that targets the lungs.  It is a gene mutation that leaves the body unable to break down thick, sticky mucous that clogs not only the lungs, inhibiting breathing, but it also affects the pancreas, hindering digestive processes.  About 30,000 children and adults in the United States are living with this disease.  There is no cure for CF, and most people born with this illness only live into their 30s or 40s, although new strides are always being made to conquer this disease (  Due to constant phlegm buildup, that Anny's body cannot regulate, Anny has been some form of "sick" all throughout her life with frequent lung infections.  To help her, she has always been on a steady stream of pills and needed frequent exercise along with physical therapy, like pounding on her back and chest to loosen the mucous.  Despite very routine visits to the doctor and more than the occasional hospital stay, Anny has managed to maintain a fairly normal lifestyle. 

Until only recently, Anny has done her very best to keep this illness at bay; however, within the past year, her health has taken a serious turn for the worst.  She has gone from using oxygen only at nighttime, to ease her breathing, to needing a steady flow 24/7.  Anny also now has a feeding tube, which she utilizes to gain extra nutrients.  Anny's constant reliance on these two aides made her realize that life could not be sustained as is.  So in the fall, she began to go through the many, many steps to be placed on the organ donors' list for a double-lung transplant at the young age of 28.

Hospital stay

The last time I saw Anny was this summer on a trip home.  To my eyes, she appeared much thinner, weaker, and her voice muffled due to the constant mucous buildup.  After that, she had a long series of one - two week voluntary hospital stays because she felt completely incapable of breathing.  On her most recent stay, a few weeks ago, she was airlifted from Syracuse, New York, to Cleveland, Ohio, where she is now staying in a special cystic fibrosis unit where they can properly care for her.  Anny has thankfully been approved for the transplant list, and now she is sitting and waiting.  She is at the top 5% of the list, but it could take a few months for her to receive the transplant.  Anny basically needs to wait for an organ donor to pass away, so she can live on.  She has had a few matches so far, but it really is best if the donor is similar in age, male or female, and of course the same blood type.

Anny wearing her "Lucky" St. Patty's Day shirt

While Anny waits, her mom and dad are doing the same.  They have taken leaves of absences from both their jobs and are staying in an Ohio hotel to be with their daughter, which has been a costly endeavor.  As you can imagine, Anny's medical bills are extremely expensive, and, unfortunately, many of her expenses are not covered by insurance, like the hospital airlift from New York to Ohio.  Likewise, after Anny receives her new lungs, she will need to remain there, on out-patient care, for another two months while doctors make certain that her body does not reject the new organs.  There is no housing, like a Ronald McDonald House, available for her.  Any sort of donation would be greatly appreciated by both Anny and her family to help ease the burden of this remarkable journey for survival.  If you are willing to give anywhere from $1 upwards, please use the PayPal link below. 

You will need to create an account, if you do not already have one, and select "Send Money."  You can type in the email address:  Paypal will then ask for your credit card information, and you will be all set!

If you prefer to send money directly, please make a check out to Anny Ockenfels, and you can mail it to her brother's address:

Patrick Ockenfels
65 Kearney Ave.
Auburn, New York 13021

I am writing this post, spurred on by two other good friends of Anny's, Danielle and Ashley, and we just want to see our dear friend triumph over this ordeal.  Usually I post about Milton, my doodle, a survivor of a recent hit-and-run car incident.  I thought today's post would better serve Anny so that she can be a survivor too.  I thank you in advance for any generosity you can share.  Jeff and I might have just bought a new house, a real money pit, if you ask me, but I am spiriting over a little contribution because Anny means an awful lot to me (even more than buying more wood for that darn fence!).

This past summer - me, Danielle, Anny, Ashley


  1. Thank you so much for doing this for Anny. She has been working hard to stay healthy for so long! This show of support from her friends is awesome!!
    ~ Jenny ( Anny's big sister)

  2. Dang it...I tried to set up a PayPal account but the link was "blocked" so I will need to make myself a note to actually get on the computer when I get home.

    Hugs and love to Anny - our entire family (including all kids) are registered organ donors.

    1. Thank you for your support, Goob! Jeff and I are as well. I honestly do not see any reason not to be!

  3. Heidi

    I sent a donation to yesterday and it still hasn't been claimed according to paypal. I am not sure if you or the Ockenfels are monitoring the paypal site but I want to make sure they receive the donation. Please let me know if I am doing something wrong. Thank you for all that your are doing for Anny and her family.....

    1. Hi Mr. Eisenchmidt,

      Thank you for your message; I did see your payment. Many people have been donating, so all of the payments are accumulating in PayPal. Once donations begin to dwindle down, I will claim all payments and send Anny and her family a check with the total donation. Do not worry; they are aware of the many generous donations people are making! Have a nice day.


  4. Heidi, thank you so much for what you are doing for Anny. She is hanging in there and trying to stay strong and upbeat. It has now been 32 days since she was first hospitalized. She continues to wait. Have you seen her new hair cut? She sure looks cute. Again thank you so much and much appreciation to all your readers that are helping my Anny in any way. Love your site. Anny's Mom.

    1. Thank you for the update on Anny and the compliments for my blog, Mrs. Ockenfels. Danielle kicked off this whole appeal, and I was more than happy to write a blog post to help Anny out! It really received a wonderful response; Anny has a special story. Jeff and I are hoping and praying that the lung transplant happens any day now. Keep us posted!