Memorial: Paul Gerdes

Paul Age: 77 Polycythemia Vera (PV)

"He still managed to smile and try to make life as normal as could be. He never complained, to us anyway, but that is where Mom came in. She took care of him through it all, some days easier than others of course."

Dad was a simple man, never requiring more than what he already had in life. He enjoyed quality time with his family and friends, whether it was spending the day with them or just a phone call to say hello. He worked hard throughout his life. As a child he helped on the family farm and later served in the Army. After returning home from the Army, he worked on the railroad for almost 30 years and continued to farm in his spare time.

Dad married Mom on June 12, 1962. They raised four children, both working hard to make it all work. On the weekends, he played fast-pitch softball and baseball. He enjoyed golf and bowling too. He was also an avid outdoorsman. Along the way, he taught all of us so much. As you can see, there are not many things our dad did not accomplish. We are thankful for the many years we enjoyed with him.

In 2002 was the first sign of something wrong when blood levels were abnormal. He was monitored for years and continued to enjoy life with minor obstacles. In 2008, he went into complete heart block and thankfully Mom was home with him and he was ok after having a pacemaker put in.

On February 16, 2009, we celebrated his 75th birthday. He received many special gifts from everyone, including a model of his first car with a special note, what a great memory. In 2009, a bone marrow biopsy confirmed the JAK2 gene mutation and more symptoms of polycythemia vera were occurring. He still managed to smile and try to make life as normal as could be. He never complained, to us anyway, but that is where Mom came in. She took care of him through it all, some days easier than others of course. We eventually went from removing blood to keep levels as close to normal as possible to receiving units of blood.

Dad spent many days in and out of the hospital due to complications from the disease but always remained hopeful. At one point, we were hoping to participate in a clinical trial at MD Anderson but obstacles kept us from pursuing this endeavor. Dad passed away on January 15, 2010 with his family by his side at his home. He will always be remembered for the wonderful person he was to so many people.

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These represent first person accounts of real people living with Essential Thrombocythemia, Polycythemia Vera and Myelofibrosis. It does not represent the views or opinions of anyone associated with the MPN Research Foundation. Please consult your doctor before taking any action to manage your health.

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