I’ll take an order of Hope with a side of Mayo, please! - Meet @loriBMT
Member Spotlights feature interviews with fellow Connect members. Learn more about members you’ve connected with and some you haven’t met yet. Nominate a member you think should share the spotlight.
ROSEMARY: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect?
@loribmt: I don’t recall what I was searching for when I stumbled on the link to Mayo Clinic Connect. But I do remember what caught my attention enough to have me join and reply. It was a caregiver asking if anyone had a successful stem cell transplant (SCT) for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). That had my name written all over it! For the first time, I was able to use my leukemia battle and the stem cell transplant I received at Mayo-Rochester to help inspire and encourage someone else traveling the same arduous journey. To let them know there is hope! It was a pivotal moment and I was hooked.
ROSEMARY: What motivates you to take part in the community?
@loribmt: I’ve always been a helper so volunteering comes naturally. But COVID sidelined my ability to be out in public. This community forum has allowed me to “Connect” with people from all over the world who have questions, need advice or sometimes just a shoulder. I’ve been blessed with compassionate people taking care of me for the past few years in the hands of Mayo Clinic and now it’s my turn to pay it forward. Mayo Clinic Connect gives every member the ability to be “Mayo-naised” [Meaning: to experience the immersion into Mayo Clinic’s compassionate and collaborative blender of care and hope!] I’d really like a t-shirt that says, “I’ve been Mayo-naised”!
ROSEMARY: What about Mayo Clinic Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and be open with the community?
@loribmt: As a rather private person, I’m uncomfortable sharing personal stories online and I know there are others just like me. Mayo Clinic Connect, being completely anonymous, allows everyone to have open and frank discussions about any health subject imaginable. People are often too embarrassed to ask their health care providers or even family members particular questions. So, unlike other social media platforms, this is a welcoming safe haven without hostility, confrontation or negativity. It’s all about encouragement, support and offering hope!
ROSEMARY: What groups do you participate in?
@loribmt: With intimate knowledge of AML and bone marrow transplant (BMT), my initial interest groups are Blood Cancers and Disorders, Cancer, Transplants, Visiting Mayo Clinic and Just Want to Talk. Now that actuarial tables label me as geriatric―with age comes wisdom―so life experiences and 35 years as a certified dental assistant have me replying in a number of other areas where relevant.
ROSEMARY: Tell us about a meaningful moment on Mayo Clinic Connect.
@loribmt: Receiving a personal message from a new member who read one of my posts and gave me the highest compliment imaginable, that was when I had my first seminal moment. I was actually at a loss for words, and for anyone who knows me, that would be a rare moment. Someone who wasn't even following the specific group, read, reacted and responded. His reply made me realize the broad scope and impact of the replies we give in Mayo Clinic Connect.
ROSEMARY: What surprises you most about Mayo Clinic Connect?
@loribmt: I never expected the level of bonding between the members or to have so many emotional moments! That’s probably what surprised me most. There are stories that just tear at your heart strings and others bring such joy and elation when we can share in some of the personal victories.
The event that rocked me to the core was when the woman several of us had been helping through her AML and SCT journey via her caregiver passed away. I wasn’t prepared for the depth of loss I felt for the caregiver, her family, for myself and everyone else who was following her story. I still get teary-eyed when recalling some of the gut-wrenching conversations which had turned to joy and then a devastating, unexpected ending.
There are so many other heartwarming journeys of courage and perseverance in the face of daily challenges. I hesitate to mention specific people as Connect has over 110,000 members, many with similar stories of determination, that spirit of endurance! But @artist01 and @ess77 both face a world of change and challenging health. Yet every single time they post, they’re upbeat, positive, supportive and encouraging in their replies! They shout to the world they are not to be defeated!!
ROSEMARY: What energizes you or how do you find balance in your life.
@loribmt: Well, I tell you, nothing energizes a person more than getting a second chance at life! I would not be here today if it wasn’t for the generous, life-saving gift of a 20 year old man who donated peripheral stem cells for my bone marrow transplant two years ago and with the absolute dedication of my husband and daughter helping me to get through it all! Every day is a gift at this point and I don’t waste a minute. My husband swears I now have the energy of a 20 year old. I have my donor's marrow and immune system, so who knows!
Balancing my life is easy. Balance comes from having a healthy perspective for choosing battles and prioritizing. Negativity has no room in my life now so I’ve cut out sources that fill me with angst. I compartmentalize everything and only deal with what’s relevant at the time. No worrying about “what ifs.” I live in the present or I’d be a pile of mush.
ROSEMARY: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.
@loribmt: A couple of rewarding hours daily are filled with Mayo Clinic Connect as a volunteer mentor. My husband, my camera and I walk at least 6 miles a day. Mother Nature loves to pose for photos! I swear nature and art are healing. So if I’m not outside, I’m stitching away on something, splashing watercolors, making paper, bookbinding, or sewing journals. Right now that’s my favorite pastime, making journals. No way am I disciplined enough to write in one for myself so I give them away. Of course time spent with family and friends is most important! The remaining time, even if it’s spent on mundane activities, is filled with gratitude that I’m even here to do those things at all!
ROSEMARY: Favorite quote or life motto
@loribmt: In my 30s, this quote from an unexpected source left such an impact on my daily attitude. It helped give me permission to take control of my life.
“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it will be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it!” Groucho Marx
Another is a personal mantra…Please don’t discredit others’ struggles because you’re able to handle them better or believe you’ve been through worse.
It’s incredibly important for all people to have empathy and understanding. What any of us have gone through doesn’t diminish what someone else is experiencing! To them, whatever their distress is, it’s just as big or real as what we’ve personally endured. Be kind…always!
ROSEMARY: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to have cast as you?
@loribmt: Hands down, Lily Tomlin! If she’s not available, then Christopher Walken (that’s not a typo.)