We catch up with Helen Weber and her 26-year-old daughter, Olivia, who ran like the wind while an all-league soccer player at Sebastopol’s Analy High but today struggles to catch a breath.
Last year, you may recall, Helen helped Olivia into a car and set out in search of a diagnosis at some of the nation’s leading medical facilities. Helen exhausted her own finances and thanked donors to a GoFundMe appeal, many from Sonoma County, whose gifts made the road trip possible.
Olivia was examined at the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Yale-New Haven and the National Institutes of Health. Her mother said doctors made no diagnosis of her maladies, among them blood clots, great difficulty digesting food and debilitating pain and nausea, but discoveries were made and treatments offered that did help.
One of Olivia’s favorite docs, rheumatologist Abhijeet Danve of Yale, spoke of her “unique set of circumstances and symptoms.” One of Olivia’s primary doctors, Suzanne Ware, a family practitioner with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Santa Cruz, said last week that still, “Nobody is completely sure what she has.”
Helen and Olivia now are now back in Santa Cruz, where Olivia was attending UCSC when symptoms first appeared in 2009, derailing her college career.
Helen is convinced that to save Olivia’s life, they must travel again. A blood clot has formed inside Olivia’s heart and could be fatal were it to travel to her brain.
“That’s why it needs to be removed,” said Dr. Ware.
Helen said Olivia has been referred to the new, state-of-the-art Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego. “The only thing holding us up is money,” she said.
Donors have pitched in more than $95,000 to the GoFundMe account. Helen said the trip east consumed those dollars and it’s embarrassing to ask for more, “but we’re in a bad place.”
She and Olivia are eager to return to Sonoma County and resume their lives....
PACKAGED CARE: The week’s happiest, most heartening moment may have come the other night in Healdsburg, where dozens of people in a production line filled Valentine’s boxes for 500-plus soldiers overseas.
Really good, largely local stuff went in: dried Alexander Valley fruits, knitted caps from the Purls of Joy shop, letters penned by children at St. John’s School, hand- and toe-warmers, granola, beef jerky, mixed nuts, spices to enliven mess-hall grub and all manner of treats.
The packages will go to U.S. soldiers engaged in NATO exercises in icy Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Those troops were chosen because they’re with the Army’s 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson in Colorado, and Fort Carson was adopted long ago by Healdsburg’s mother to many, Mary St. Clair.
She began filling care packages more than decade ago when her son, Dustin, served with a mortar squad in Afghanistan. Dustin earned a discharge in 2007 but the men and women who remain on active duty around the world might as well be Mary’s children, too.
She can’t stop caring about them and asking her neighbors’ help to keep shipping packages that might comfort and remind them that their service and sacrifices are appreciated, certainly by Mary St. Clair and the people of Healdsburg.
How to help
Olivia Weber’s new GoFundMe page