Jamie Hoggard has faced some tough challenges in her life, but the latest one may be the toughest one yet.
A month ago, the 50-year-old wife and mother was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, the same disease that claimed her mother in 2011.
Jamie has always been an active person, with swimming as one of her favorite pastimes.
“I noticed that I was getting tired and short of breath. I had no endurance. I was usually quick – I was a goer, but I was slowing down. And sometimes I would cough and cough,” she added. “I dismissed it. I just blew it off.”
When she visited her primary doctor last month for a routine check up he decided to do a chest x-ray. When the doctor saw something “worrisome,” he kept her at the office for a cat scan.
The diagnosis surprised her.
“We’ve caught it in the early stages. Chances are better,” she said.
Her husband Jim agreed, saying, “It’s fortunate that she is eligible for a (double lung) transplant. It’s going to be a tough road, but we’ll get through it.”
“I have strong faith - we both do,” she said. “God will get me through this. I took care of my mother the last couple of years of her life and learned so much from her. She was a strong Christian and I was shown that God will take care of me. My mother showed me how to deal with things.”
Both Jamie and her mother worked at the now-closed Binney & Smith factory in Winfield - Jamie was there several years and her mother almost 40. The Hoggards have learned a large number of people who worked at the now-closed Binney & Smith factory in Winfield have been stricken with lung disease.
Family is important
Jamie and Jim have two sons, Justin, 14, and Trenton, 13.
Trenton has cerebral palsy, experiences epileptic seizures, is developmentally delayed, is non-verbal, does not walk and requires full care.
Although Jamie worked outside the home a few years, her life has always revolved around taking care of the family. In 2007 she decided to stay home full time. There is some assistance with day care for Trenton and part-time health workers, but Jamie is the full-time care giver.
“Trenton is a sweetheart. This is where I want to be. Jim helps so much. He has changed from first shift at Spirit to third shift, just so he can help. I don’t think he ever sleeps,” Jamie continued. “I can’t feel sorry for myself. We know that a sense of humor is important – for us and the boys, too.”
Page 2 of 2 - Although she is eligible for a double lung transplant, there is strict criteria that will need to be met. Insurance will pay the majority of the transplant procedure, but the couple will have to prove they have a support system and can pay for the dozens of medications Jamie will be required to take for several years following the transplant.
Despite her critical situation, she failed to qualify for SSI disability benefits.
The transplant procedure will be done at the Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City and the couple will be required to stay close to the hospital for a couple of months and within 60 miles for a year.
That poses not only logistical issues, but financial as well. But those issues aren’t what weigh the heaviest on her heart.
“The the scariest thing is what happens to Trenton if I’m not here. He needs his medication, he has doctor visits – it’s my greatest fear,” she continues with a tear sliding down her cheek. “God makes no mistakes. He doesn’t give us more than we can handle...He has a plan and I know something good will come of this. I’m going to keep going as long as I can. I’m not done raising my kids.”
Jim smiles proudly at his wife and said confidently, “We’ll get through this. She’s worried about how much it’s going to cost. How can you put a price on it?”
Jamie will prepare for the transplant with informational classes and exercises. She has a good support system in place and an account has been established at Emprise Bank in Augusta for donations. Anyone who would like to give to the Jamie Hoggard Lung Transplant Fund can send donations to Emprise Bank, 1700 N. Ohio, Augusta, KS 67010.
Belinda Larsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.