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Amy Mauer newspaper article


Archives: St. Petersburg Times: “‘She’s going through it with grace’ Series: RELIGION”

‘She’s going through it with grace’ Series: RELIGION; [STATE Edition]
EILEEN SCHULTE. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Oct 30, 2004. pg. 5
Abstract (Article Summary)

After church one Sunday during last Christmas break, the Mauer family was having its traditional barbecue. Everyone was having a good time but Amy. The 15-year-old wasn’t hungry and was running a 102 temperature. And she was very tired.

Debbie Mauer quit her job as a cafeteria manager for Val-Pak so she could stay with Amy in the hospital. Lee Mauer, a Vietnam veteran, is a self-employed tile installer who needs more work than he’s getting these days.

To donate to the Amy Mauer fund, call the Rev. [Ken Link] at (727) 442-2661. Lakeview Baptist Church is at 1366 Lakeview Road, Clearwater.
Full Text (992 words)
Copyright Times Publishing Co. Oct 30, 2004

After church one Sunday during last Christmas break, the Mauer family was having its traditional barbecue. Everyone was having a good time but Amy. The 15-year-old wasn’t hungry and was running a 102 temperature. And she was very tired.

Her lymph glands were noticeably swollen and she had a terrible headache. Her mother, Debbie, thought she might have mononucleosis.

At 2 p.m., Amy was in such pain that Debbie drove her to the emergency room a few blocks from the family’s modest house on Grand Central Street.

It took doctors until 11 p.m. to make the diagnosis: lymphoblastic leukemia, or leukemia of the central nervous system.

Amy’s mother cried.

Her little sister cried.

Her boyfriend cried.

But Amy didn’t.

“I didn’t think anything,” she said.

There was good news: The cure rate was 85 percent.

At 2 a.m., an ambulance took her away from Clearwater, away from her father, twin siblings and two dogs to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Word spread fast around her church, Lakeview Baptist. Within a short time, members were calling, wanting to help and to put their arms around Debbie.

Amy, a devout Christian, would come to count on their love to help her survive the bone marrow aspirations, the spinal taps and a backpack full of pills she has to take every day.

And money. The family was unprepared for the cost of the treatment. Medicaid pays the medical bills, but the family barely gets by.

Debbie Mauer quit her job as a cafeteria manager for Val-Pak so she could stay with Amy in the hospital. Lee Mauer, a Vietnam veteran, is a self-employed tile installer who needs more work than he’s getting these days.

A “Biker Sunday” fundraiser, where motorcycle riders showed off their Harleys and Kawasakis, raised about $3,400 in March. Last week, the church had a similar “Hot Rod Sunday” with antique cars. That raised about $2,100.

The family draws money from a church fund for basic needs. Still, the family has relied on food stamps at times.

“We can’t pay any bills,” Mrs. Mauer said.

After two weeks of chemotherapy, Amy’s beautiful, long, curly blond hair started to fall out, and with it, part of her identity.

“Everybody knew me by my hair,” she said. “Guys love long hair.”

She went to a salon where a stylist braided the remaining strands and cut it off.

She put the hair in a baggie and put it away.

Amy, now 16, looks at her school photo on the wall, which shows her thick, wavy locks. “That was me.”

Straight blond fuzz is growing on her scalp now.

In February she developed infections, and was in intensive care for 45 days.

Mrs. Mauer wouldn’t leave Amy, disobeying hospital rules and sleeping in a reclining chair by her bed.

But as ill as she was, Amy did not want to miss church.

“When she was in the hospital and was so very sick, she would ask me, ‘What are you preaching on Sunday?’ ” said her pastor, the Rev. Ken Link. “She would ask me to read the sermon to her. One time, we took a cell phone and put it (on speaker phone) so she could listen to the Sunday sermon.”

“She said, ‘I just need my church,’ ” Link said. “I think at 16 she just needs some ‘normal.’ And normal for her is church.”

After her stay in intensive care, her blood work revealed she was in remission – after only two weeks of chemotherapy.

“It’s (because of) faith in God,” Mrs. Mauer said.

Inspired, members of Amy’s youth group who had traded extra hours of sleep for Sunday morning services, came back.

“They looked up to her,” Mrs. Mauer said. “She was a good person to talk to . . . to ask what to do about problems. When she got sick, they said they needed to grow up spiritually.”

Of all the kids in the church, Amy was the strongest to be able to endure cancer, Link said.

“The Lord has a higher purpose than we can see,” he said. “Maybe Amy got this and someone else is touched.”

Indeed, 10 months into a two-year treatment program, she is planning to become a hospital volunteer, comforting children whose own mothers don’t visit or staying overnight with them as her mother did.

For now she charts her medications and spinal taps in a binder.

She has so many doctors, nurses and social workers, she can’t remember all their names. The Lexapro she takes for depression isn’t really necessary, she said. Her faith is more effective than pills. But they make the cancer kids take it.

An honor roll student at Clearwater High School, she studies at home, her books piled up by the front door. Sometimes her old high school friends call.

She falls asleep at 9 p.m. and wakes up at 1 p.m. the next day.

“I’m always tired,” she said. “Really tired.”

Sometimes she thinks about her dream.

She said the Make-A-Wish Foundation has offered her a trip anywhere, but she wants to make sure it’s a vacation her whole family can enjoy, even the 11-year-old twins, Jeanne and Richard.

She said she has been to the theme parks but the twins haven’t. Maybe they would like Disney World, she thinks.

Link said the church will stand by the family until Amy is cured. The members have gained a lot from this experience, he said.

“She is a living, breathing image of Christ,” he said, “because she’s going through it, and she’s going through it with grace.”

Eileen Schulte can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected]

HOW TO HELP

To donate to the Amy Mauer fund, call the Rev. Ken Link at (727) 442-2661. Lakeview Baptist Church is at 1366 Lakeview Road, Clearwater.
[Illustration]
Caption: Amy Mauer, 16, sits in a 1969 Camaro Rally Sport at the antique car show Sunday that raised money for her and her family.; Photo: PHOTO, DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
People: Mauer, Debbie, Link, Ken, Mauer, Amy
Dateline: CLEARWATER
Text Word Count 992

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