Monday, January 10, 2011

Fund Raising Marathon: A tale of redemption

Hillary is a very special young woman who has fought off her own life snuffing demons. I am lucky to know her for so many years and to see her grow into a strong, funny, and wise adult. Family practice is such a great job. With her permission, please read what she has say. It is heart warming to think of all those runners with a picture of Yaakov, my donor, and me bouncing across the San Francisco Bay.

What a blessing. What an antidote to the last few weeks.

This week’s newsletter and coached run will be honoring Dr. Brian Koffman, the Personal Honoree of our team member, Hillary Bergmann.
Here is Hillary’s story:

My freshman year of high school I was diagnosed with severe anorexia, and sent to a hospital in Northern California to undergo treatment. The doctor's and therapists lost faith in me, and I left the program 10 pounds lighter, more frail and weak. Fortunately, upon my return to Southern California, my family found a well regarded family doctor, Dr. Brian Koffman, that they hoped would help me recover. Thankfully this man was able to get through to me in a way that very few could. With his kindness, wisdom and support he helped me battle my demons and, over time, slowly regain my health. He spent more time with me each week than any doctor I have ever experienced before or after; he made me feel important, good enough and worthy of taking up that space (a way I normally did not feel). In addition to our many doctor visits (him sporting a new set of fun suspenders that would make me laugh), he also came and visited me at the hospital after I broke my face in my trampoline accident. Sleeping in that hospital bed all night was one of the most uncomfortable experiences, being tangled in tubes, waking up every 15 minutes to beeps and nurse checks, it was just awful. I remember opening my eyes the next morning, relieved the night was finally over and saw not only my mom, but Dr. Koffman there as well. It touched my heart so deeply as he had no need to be there; It wasn't his hospital nor was it even near where he lived or had his practice. He came because he cared - yet another gesture of love, to show me that I was important, that I was good enough, and worthy of taking up space. I have tears in my eyes thinking of this memory and what a gift he has been in my life.

About two and a half years ago I received a shocking e-mail from my wonderful doctor (who had since become my friend that I now called Brian :) sharing that he had incurable leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). I was beside myself, how could this happen? Fortunately, his email went on to say that he would be having an experimental haemopoetic stem cell transplant that would offer a chance of 7 to 10 cancer-free years, and that it could be a cure! I was ready to hop on a plane to Southern California and give blood, platelets, or do anything that could help this man who so deserved to live a healthy and happy, long life. I wanted to do anything I could do to give back to the man who had given so much to me and to so many others. At the time, he did not need my blood or platelets and he did go forward with his transplant. He has a blog ( ) where he keeps us all up to date about his progress, his blood cell count and all the "fun things" that are now his life. It’s struck me how positive he has been through this whole process and I love that he is always up for a good laugh!

For the last two years I struggled with what to do for my dear friend, how to help. Recently I watched a friend of mine train for a triathlon, which I later found out to be for TNT, and I donated to this important cause. It was then that a light bulb went off - it was time to take that donation to the next level ... and that is when Dustin and I decided to become TNT team members ourselves and to run the Kaiser Half Marathon in February in Brian’s honor.

Keep running, keep stretching, keep fundraising, keep enriching your heart and mind! YOU are helping to cure blood-related cancers!



Blogger Tricia Cannon said...

What you have said about Dr. Koffman doesn't surprise me one bit. He is the most wonderful, caring and thoughtful Doctor I have ever had. Dr. Koffman came to the hospital when my son was born with Digeorge Syndrome. Once again he didn't have to, but he did. He came and looked him over and started researching the syndrome so he could help my son in the coming years. I am so glad that you guys found each other and he helped you. There is not anyone better than him. Thank you for sharing her story about you...

January 14, 2011 at 12:04 PM  

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