The Winfield's Family

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The Winfield’s, Evington VA
Mr. Gerald Winfield JR, wife Heather and family have dealt with ongoing life altering events for the
past 13.5 years. On March 28, 2009, what they thought was a stroke due to losing complete use and
feeling of his left hand/arm and into the side of neck and face, resulted in rushing to ER for many tests
and the wait began. The ER doctor informed them there were lesions on his brain; he had Multiple
Sclerosis (MS)! Being a husband and father of two young daughters, as he stated, “my world
completely stopped as I had no idea what myself and family were to face that day, tomorrow and
years to come.” Determined not to lose the battle he continued with physical therapy and daily
injections to slow the progression of this disease. As you can imagine, the treatments, being in and
out of hospital, and the medicines that came to be expensive are still unbelievably expensive. He
continued to experience relapses/flare-ups of new lesions causing additional disabilities, some visible,
some not. So many factors can trigger MS relapses and symptoms, having the body overheated or
extremely cold is one environmental element.
After a family dinner in July 2019, what Mr. Winfield thought was a simple sneeze, sent Gerald to the
ER in excruciating back pain. The news was not what they ever expected to hear…what was thought
as just a broken rib was a hole in this rib. Doctors found numerous enlarged lymph nodes and was told
he needed to see a specialist ASAP. “Here we go again, how can I handle another health battle as I
battle daily with MS? Not sure how much more I have?” Gerald told his wife. After countless
appointments with specialists, tests, and surgical biopsies, Heather received the call on August 28,
2019, that no wife ever wants to get! Gerald had stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma!!! On a scale of 1-10,
his oncologist said his was a twenty as the cancer had spread full body. It was the hardest battle both
physically, mentally, and emotionally the Winfield’s battled. It was later determined his daily MS
injections were the cause of his cancer.
Over the span of 6 months, he underwent four types of chemotherapy. It was emotional
rollercoaster of ongoing tests, biopsies, doctor visits and not knowing what tomorrow would bring.
Determine to try to keep their daily lives as normal as possible, the Winfield’s oldest daughter had
just started college that fall and now faced with the ongoing added high medical expenses.
December 2019, dead winter, the Winfield’s experienced yet again another challenging time…an
unfortunate heat pump disaster, the fan blew off and damaged the inside of the outside unit and
compressor. Without heat and worrying about maintaining Gerald’s health not only from ongoing
cancer treatments but being without heat for a week negatively impacted his MS symptoms.
Primary focus on Gerald’s ongoing cancer and MS treatments, the family just had to “patch” the heat
pump and pray it would continue to make it, as their primary financial concern was Gerald’s ongoing
treatments. Finishing chemo February 2020 and numerous consults both in Lynchburg and Duke, he
would now undergo radiation.
March 2020 as the world shut-up from COVID-19, Gerald started a month of daily radiation. Due to his
compromised immune system their family went into complete house isolation, except for his daily
treatments. Their oldest daughter lost her job as it would have exposed her to many germs that could
have been deadly to Gerald.

Gerald was declared in remission September 2020! But a short year later, his first monster disease,
MS came back vigorously as he experienced a brutal relapse September 2021, this one was different
and much harder to recover from. More physical and cognitive symptoms remained and over the next
few months it was worsening. February 2022 his neurologist at Duke confirmed he was now in Stage
3, Secondary Progressive MS, which all while fighting for his life from cancer the chemo and radiation
was increasing the MS progression. Mr. Winfield taken out of work by his neurologist and told it was
time that he would no longer be able to work due the damage the MS lesions have caused, they were
permanent. Gerald has been out of work since February 8, 2022, currently he is undergoing PT twice a
week to retrain his brain to help him physically adapt to his disabilities. As so many people know
there is so much more to this disability than what is visible. Facing daily excruciating pain in his
extremities and weakness and the lesions have also impacted cognitive skills causing short term
memory loss and requires use of walking aids.
In June during the hottest weeks of the summer, their heat pump could not keep up and cool their
home. This took a huge toll on Gerald’s health as heat and cold extreme elements cause MS
symptoms to flare and worsen. A service call confirmed their thoughts, their almost 20-year unit was
barely hanging on and not sure if it would make it through summer. With Gerald out of work since
February and the expense of his ongoing medical treatments, the Winfield’s only choice was to do
another patch job and pray it would get them through summer.
The Winfield’s primary focus must be Gerald’s health and ongoing medical treatments and multiple
medicines he requires. The added stress of worrying if their heat-pump will hold out another day
continues to weigh on the Winfield’s.