March 2007 - News Story:

Stan Stewart battles serious illness
GM says prayers helped, still needed

By Laura Link

Stan Stewart
Stan Stewart

Stan Stewart came to Big Canoe two and a half years ago from Kansas fit as a fiddle and ready to take on the challenges of a growing gated community in the mountains of North Georgia.

Last September he began to notice a shortness of breath and loss of stamina. As his body continued to weaken doctors sought a diagnosis. After a couple of trips to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. with his wife Wanda, Stan learned he has been diagnosed with primary systemic amyloidosis.

Amyloidosis is a rare disease in which a protein called amyloid accumulates in various tissues and organs, impairing normal function.  In Stan’s case the protein has accumulated in his heart restricting its function to only 35 percent. Further tests showed the amyloid protein had spread to other organs and tissues eliminating his chances for a heart transplant or stem cell replacement.

There is no known cure for this potentially fatal disorder. Without the ability to receive a new heart or stem cells Stan’s only option is chemotherapy that he has begun. He is being carefully monitored through blood tests taken locally and relayed to doctors at Mayo. He returns to Rochester in three months for further evaluation of his condition.

Although Stan had a fairly serious melanoma about eight years ago doctors tell him there is no correlation between that and the amyloidosis. Doctors are at a loss as to why Stan has developed this rare disorder.

Mayo Clinic states there is no recognized link between amyloidosis and stress or occupation. Men over 40 or 50 are more likely to develop the disorder than women. Stan is 52. Amyloid is an abnormal protein and the amount of protein a person eats plays no role in the development of the disease.

The POA Board and Stan met to discuss his illness.

“The Board and I have worked out an agreement whereby I come into the office every day if I can from 9 a.m. until Noon and from 2-5 p.m.” Stan said.

“Those luncheon meetings I used to have are a thing of the past. They have been replaced with much needed naps,” he said.

He added although he may not be in the office he is always in contact through his Blackberry and computer.

When asked what the people of Big Canoe could do for him, his answer was one word: “Pray”. Stan says he feels the prayers for him that have been offered to God in places of worship as well as individually and he is grateful to the wonderful people of Big Canoe.

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