Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the tag “Hodgkin’s”

The Love Of A Sister


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Alyssa Scheidemann is an author living in Florida.  She writes on various websites and has two published books, one a children’s book, and the other a book of poems (www.alyssascheidemann.com).

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Recently, Alyssa had been asked to write an article as an alumni of her college, Florida Gulf Coast University magazine, Pinnacle.

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You see, her brother Michael, was also a student at FGCU.  I wrote a couple of posts about Michael recently on “Paul’s Heart” (see “Meet Michael”).  Alyssa’s article in Pinnacle has just been released, and so I would like to share it with you.  Below, is the entire article.

Michael Scheidemann inspired family, friends

Scholarship in his memory will do the same for others.
Alyssa Scheidemann with her brother Michael
Michael Scheidemann was a bright, loving person with a heart of gold and wisdom far beyond his years. Born with a visual impairment, he compensated with a keen sense of hearing and an amazing memory.

His life ended Jan. 6, 2014. He was 24.

My brother’s memory lives on, however, in the hearts of his family and friends and through the Michael E. Scheidemann Inspirational Scholarship Fund for Florida Gulf Coast University, established by my parents and me to help others with physical disabilities pursue their education.

As his sister – we were less than a year apart and the best of friends – and a fellow Eagle, I’d like to share with you what made my brother special.

Michael’s favorite word was “Integrity” – being honest and having strong moral principles. He was assigned the word in an elementary school show. Afterwards, he put up the sign over his bed because he believed in it so much.

He was also the family comedian. He could always make us laugh.

Mike worried about other family members, especially when we were sick or hurt. When our mother, Josephine, had a backache, he brought her a back massager. When I was in middle school, I fractured my hip when I slipped and fell on black ice as I ran to catch the school bus. Mike helped carry me home. Later, as I struggled with crutches to get around, he helped me figure out an efficient way to go up and down the stairs in our New Jersey home.

Despite his visual limitations, he loved to serve as videographer in our high school TV production class and, once in the studio, enjoyed being the director. He challenged himself in all of his academics and graduated with honors with a GPA of more than 4.0 from Barron Collier High School in Naples.

Mike loved FGCU. My mom and I drove him to campus for classes. We would all get together for lunch at Gulf Coast Town Center when our schedules allowed it. Michael and I also attended FGCU concerts together. Those were times we will always hold dear.

My father, Ernest Scheidemann, cherishes the overnight camping trips he and Mike took to the Delaware Water Gap where they would fish, sit by a campfire and hike in the mountains. What dad misses most, though, are the powerful hugs Mike liberally dispensed.

If anyone needed help, Mike was ready to step up. He organized our home offices and garages and was just as happy to help people he didn’t know. Two years ago, he worked as an intern at the Lighthouse of Collier, Inc., a nonprofit organization for people with vision loss. He taught others who had vision issues how to use computers.

Michael became sick in December 2012. Eventually the doctors figured out it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. Research indicated that treatment for this form of cancer had a high success rate, particularly for someone as young as he was. Michael remained tough, brave, and focused through it all, including his chemotherapy. Even before his final treatment, he declared himself a survivor. After six months of treatment, he was declared in remission. It was a happy day.

My brother taught me – and so many others – to live life to the fullest, with no regrets. A positive outlook and your best effort are what are required to face challenges and inspire others.

About a month after being declared in remission, Mike began experiencing heart complications caused by the treatment. He continued to be strong and brave, assuring the rest of us that this was just another obstacle he would overcome. But it was not to be. After fighting so hard for more than a year, he passed on that January.

Michael was a senior at the time. On May 10, I proudly accepted his bachelor’s degree in political science posthumously on his behalf at a beautiful ceremony.

It is my family’s hope that the Michael E. Scheidemann Inspirational Scholarship Fund will allow many more promising students to experience the joy of learning as Michael did and, in that way, keep Michael’s memory alive.

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One Direction – Forward


For the last twenty-five years, my life has gone nothing as planned. From the day I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in 1988, one thing I learned very quickly in my life, there was no such thing as being in control of my life. All I was able to do was recognize, accept, and move on, one direction…forward. One of my favorite expressions is ” if you spill grape juice on your white carpet are you going to stand there looking at it asking ‘why?’ Or are you going to clean it up before the stain gets too bad?”
2013 a lot of “grape juice” was spilled. I was rushed to the emergency room for the third time in less than a year. Some late side effects from my cancer days were requiring attention. My second and final campaign for our local school board fizzled into oblivion. My most loyal companion and furry friend Pollo was laid to rest just shy of his fifteenth birthday (not too shabby for a golden retriever). And the biggest event of 2013, the end of my second marriage.
As all of these things occurred, I was never in any control of their outcomes or consequences. I could only move in one direction…forward. My health is always going to have something pop up. But I can make better decisions that can help prevent many things from happening. Stress reduction has had major impact on me already. Confirmed by my doctors, certain vital signs and blood results have improved to the point that medications are being ceased. Even some of the permanent late side effects are less in severity without the large amount of stress.
Local politics was an interesting venture. For all the hype of the last presidential election it was only natural to think that while turnout would not match the levels of 2012, a local election that had major implications surely had to make a difference and could have come down to “one vote making a difference.” But instead voter apathy tumbled far below even two years prior, another off-year election.
I still miss Pollo so much. I have finally stopped automatically going for his feed bowl or the back door to let him out first thing in the morning. But I do still miss his faithful tail wag and inability to get mad for any reason. But the loss has been so painful.
As for the divorce, the end will come. But my attention now has to focus on my daughters. I will not discuss the circumstances of the divorce. But the effects are showing on my daughters. I know what it is like to be caught in the middle of a bitter custody situation and I am doing my best to make sure that they know that both of their parents are going to be a part of their lives not just for 2014, but for years after that. Both of us will have wonderful new changes for the girls providing them plenty of wonderful experiences, just not the misery and stress of watching us not getting along with each other. For everyone else in our lives, I do hope that in 2014 you realize that what led to our breakup was best kept between she and , and had nothing to do with anyone else.
I have lots of hopes for 2014 for the one direction I am making. But I will not forget those that will also be struggling with either their employment, finances, health, or their relationships.
I prefer to clean up the “grape juice.” Not ask why it spilled. To all of you reading this and “Paul’s Heart,” I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous new year.
Happy New Year everyone.

The “Benefits” Of A Union


If you want to start a divisive conversation with anyone, state you opinion on labor unions.  The chasm between supporters and opposition is huge.  There is hardly any acknowledgement of real estate between either side.  You are either for them, or against them.  Both sides often present skewed information to prove their value and refute effectiveness of the other side’s arguments.

I am not going to get into the middle of that discussion either.  I do have an opinion on labor unions, but that is not the purpose of this story or the blog in general.  Instead, I want to talk about one of the good things to come out of union membership.

From the day I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, I became a “prisoner” to my current empolyer.  As with many health challenges, once you become a liability with your health, insurance companies do not want you or your premiums that you pay.  While they do pay out claims, they are in the business to make money, to gamble against you and your health.

The first job that I ever had that gave me health benefits was Wagner Appliance Parts, a “family” type business in the Allentown area.  With the help of a good reference, I was hired by Jeff Wagner.  Two years later was when I was diagnosed with my Hodgkin’s.  It was also at that time, that my employer realized what he was not getting for his investment.  Wagner’s was not a union business, so benefits were at the generosity of the Wagner’s.  And for years they felt as if their employees had good health coverage because why would their agent sell them anything less.  But with my diagnosis came a sad realization for Jeff, that our plan had many exemptions and limitations that could have profound impacts on diagnosis and treatments.  The night I told Jeff of my diagnosis, and the doctor’s plans due to my health benefits, is when he called his insurance representative and upgraded our coverage.

For three years following, I was an employer there.  But an opportunity came up to operate my own business/franchise, something that I had been denied in spite of my qualifications, or the fact that management constantly had me training the future managers.  There was going to be one catch.  I would not be offered any benefits because of the prohibitive costs.  But my career had plateaued and this would only be temporary to give myself experience.  Five years went by, had it not been for the HMO my wife had.

A break came when I landed a job with an entirely different company, a major, international firm.  I would be starting as a custodian, the lowest scale of the local union.  But what the union offered in health coverage was more than I could ever have hoped.  The great thing is, it could not be denied.  In the last five years, I have had my share of claims paid and I would have been dropped long ago.  But with this group policy, it cannot happen so I am told.

The economy and the new universal health care are creating issues which my opinions in these matters are not what this post is about, but rather reveal what employers are doing to skirt around having to offer benefits from under-enrollment, cutting hourly workers below full time.  As far as I am concerned, you must fight to keep whatever coverage you currently have if you are happy for it.

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