A liver transplant in 2006 gave Mary Dyc her life back. Now she wants to pay it forward by helping the Canadian Liver Foundation with its fund raising efforts. On May 31, Dyc, 59, joins the 2008 Stroll For Liver Walk in Prince George.
Her own near-death experience has taught her to take care of her health and reminds her how vital the body’s largest organ next to skin really is.
During an 11-hour operation on June 2, 2006, Dyc traded her own failing organ for a donor’s healthy one. It came just in time to save her life.
“I’d always taken care of myself with natural remedies and watched what I ate,” she said. “But I started thinking I’m healthy, what do I need that for?’ I neglected my health and was eating lots of junk food. Then in 2004, after a very bad flu, I found my immune system was destroyed. My digestive system failed and I started retaining fluids.”
At that point in her life, Dyc hadn’t been to a medical doctor in 17 years, but as she became weaker and sicker (and at the urging of family members,) on Boxing Day 2004, she went into hospital.
“They had to drain about 10 quarts of liquid off me,” Dyc said. “When your immune system backs up, your ammonia level builds up. The imbalance causes mental confusion. At home, I couldn’t even turn on the light switch. I felt like I was dying. The doctor told me you could die waiting for a liver’.”
Dying never concerned her because her faith in God put that decision in His hands but what she calls her “earthly self” wanted to be there for her family. They too wanted to be there for her and rally around.
“My daughter wanted to donate part of her liver but the doctors thought that she lived too far out of town if there were complications and she also had four children to raise so I was put on an anonymous donor list. When they called me to say there was a donor, I just sat there. I was in shock.”
During Dyc’s ordeal, clinging to life and waiting for surgery, her faithful dog Koko was always at her side for comfort.
She had the operation in Vancouver. The procedure went well but the aftermath was full of complications.
“Ten days after my surgery, on June 11, I had a stroke. I was in a coma for two days. When I came to, my daughter and grandchildren were there. When I saw them I was so happy to have the chance to come back and see that everyone was okay.”
Her latest medical setback was not the first she’s had to overcome. Dyc also beat pancreatic cancer when she was 38. Today, she advises people to “do your own research” when it comes to nutrition and health remedies or products.
“I don’t like breakfast, so I’ll have a power’ bar instead of grabbing fast food whenever I’m hungry and in a hurry.”
Even though she has been in the health product industry for years, Dyc makes sure her own health, regained over the past two years, is never taken for granted.
“After my stroke, I couldn’t move. I had to learn to walk and talk again. I knew I would be alright when I saw my finger move, just a little. I knew it was just a matter of time.”
The stroke left her with some dexterity problems.
“I used to be a hairdresser and I can’t do that anymore because I can’t go like this,” she said, holding two fingers in the air to show they couldn’t hold scissors or hair.
Still, she feels blessed to be still around enjoying her grandchildren and six-month-old great grandchild.
In her letter asking for support, Dyc gives her personal reason for walking.
“First of all, I thank God daily for hearing all the prayers from family, church families, many friends and caregivers. I thank God for gifting the team of doctors and nurses with their incredible knowledge and all their continuing care and support, through my recovery.
“If this had been years ago I would not have lived without the ongoing research. My reason for walking for the Liver Foundation and raising pledges is what I can do in a small way to help save other lives.”
Liver disease affects one in 10 Canadians. There are over 100 forms of liver disease.
Anyone wanting to register or pledge for the 2008 Stroll for Liver Walk/Run Saturday, May 31 can call the Canadian Liver Foundation at 250-963-9756 or Mary Dyc at 250-563-3311.