As you may know back in 2016, My dad Greg Foster Olympic Silver Medalist and 4 time World Champion was diagnosed with a very rare and life-threatening disease called AL Amyloidosis which could’ve taken his life had he not been persistent. A disease that attacks any or all of the major organs in your body. In his case “the Heart”. It caused him to experience shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, severe swelling in the lower extremities, nausea, weakness and chronic fatigue and blackouts. On June 13th of 2016 he underwent chemotherapy and then a stem cell transplant on June 15th. He went from 225 to 190 pounds. After being down for some 6 months he fought his way back to a healthier state. He was back to working out and gained a lot of his weight and muscle back, although he couldn’t do much cardio because of the irreversible damage to his heart.
After being in remission for about two years and doing fairly well, In June 2018 my dad started experiencing some of the exact same symptoms he’d had back in 2015, shortness of breath, low energy, lack of appetite and even more fluid retention, dizziness and blackouts. He immediately knew something was wrong. He went to his Amyloidosis doctor and he immediately ordered blood test and another bone marrow biopsy. Both tests came back positive. The Amyloidosis had returned.
In July 2018 he started 16 grueling weeks of his life, 30 pills orally and an abdomen injection. He didn’t choose the IV route because of the 6 hours I would have had to sit in the hospital. And if you know my dad, he doesn’t like sitting still. He said those were the worst 16 damn weeks of his life. My dad never missed a day of work during that ordeal and none his co-workers knew of his plight. See my dad is not a complainer. Every Thursday after work for 16 weeks he went in for his chemo treatments, went home, got up the next day and went to work every Friday, like clockwork. Come Friday later afternoon he disappeared. He was a practically a zombie for two and a half days. He stayed in bed and barely ate anything, never once complaining to anyone. Monday morning back at work as if nothing happened.
In late November 2018 my dad went to the Boston Medical School’s Amyloidosis Center for a full 2-day evaluation. After the results, the entire cardiology team at Boston Medical Center immediately recommended a “Heart Transplant.” That’s the only thing that’s going to save your life. Is what they told him. They relayed this information to his cardiology team in St Louis. After further testing by his St Louis cardiology team, dad’s tests came back negative for the amyloid protein. Dad was in remission for the second time. My father is a spokesperson for the Amyloidosis Research Consortium. (photo below) See links (https://arci.org/diagnosing-amyloidosis/
) and https://arci.org/olympic-athlete-greg-foster-struggles-to-find-accurate-diagnosis/
) to find out more about his plight and this ugly disease.
The day after Thanksgiving and a week after his final chemo treatment he drove to Kansas City with my brother Brandon and his family to visit my other brother Bryce. Upon returning home from the trip my dad walked up the stairs to his home and completely blacked out. He fell face first, fracturing his jaw, breaking 4 teeth and suffering 3 severe lacerations to his chin mouth that require several stitches each. All this was due to his lack of heart function and oxygen to his brain. He spent a couple of days in the hospital. Again, not complaining to anyone (not even us) dad went right back to work.
4-5 months go by and nothing concrete from his cardiology team. Dad was getting progressively worse and feeling poorly majority of his days. Again, he suffered in silence because he wanted to bother no one to be bothered with his problems, not even his family. Finally, after months of frustration and lack of communication, in August he reached out to his cardiology team and demanded some sort of action. He immediately received a call from the head of transplant surgery requesting apologizing for the lack of communication and requesting the opportunity to perform more testing that could lead for towards a severely needed transplant. Dad reluctantly obliged. He was tired and frustrated and ready to completely give up but gave them a chance to either “shit or get off the pot”, as his coach Bob Kersee use to say to him.
Dad was doing his best although he could feel the decline in his daily function and output. It took him longer to get going in the mornings and it took days for him to recover from light activity. He was only sleeping about 4 hours a night. Although he was managing day to day it began to take a toll on him physically. Dad got another call to have some additional tests performed. Again, I obliged. After the first series of test the cardiologist informed him that his heart had gotten much worse. He told him that he didn’t feel worse and he said that’s probably because he kept himself in good physical shape. Anyway, dad said he looked him dead I the eyes and said, “YOU NEED A HEART TRANSPLANT”
. Although he knew it was probably coming, he was devastated to hear it and lost it. Both the cardiologist and the nurse assured him that a heart transplant is the best thing for him, but he still wasn’t ready to hear it.
Dad went thru additional series of test, including a blood draw appointment that took 34 vials of blood. Each of the test testers asked him if he were up for a heart transplant… dad really had no answer for them. He didn’t know. After all the test were done He get a call, “finally”, stating that the transplant team of cardiologist and my Amyloidosis doctor were going to meet to make a final decision on whether to perform the transplant.
My transplant team gets together, and the final decision is made to add him to the heart transplant list. He was both relieved, excited and pissed. Relieved that it was finally happening, excided about the opportunity of getting better and pissed that it took this long to decide.
Fast forward to Today,
My Dad Greg Foster (OLY) is “officially” on the heart transplant registry. While he waits for a donor heart dad has to continue to get blood tests regularly to ensure that the Amyloidosis is still in remission, but at least there is hope. Last week’s test showed no Amyloid protein. Thank God! Dad is feeling good and excited about the potential of getting a new heart, but he is saddened and heartbroken by the thought that some has to die in order for him to live. Once again thinking of others first.
Going forward I’m not sure what the future holds for my dad, but for now we are not going to give up. Every day is a struggle for him, either physically, psychologically or emotionally but he has come this far and cleared some damn high hurdles through this race he’s not quitting. My Dad is a fighter but has gone through a heck of a lot for someone that has done so much for so many. My brother's and I just want to make this part of Dad's life one of comfort and happiness. The road will be a costly one, but our plan is to fight to the end. I have a new nephew and dad a grandson that he hasn’t gotten the opportunity see yet (because of all the doctor visits) and his goal is to see Hendrix soon and for a long time. This journey has been and will continue to be one of great financial, emotional and physical challenges to dad. Although it’s been one hell of a fight and a high ass hurdle to clear, if you know my DAD he’s not giving up. The financial hardship that this is going to cause my dad will be more than he can handle right now. Unfortunately, he is still paying medical costs from his stem cell transplant three years ago.
Please assist myself and my brothers in getting the word out about our GoFundMe fundraising efforts for my dad. My dad competed in track & field for 17 years at the very highest level all over this globe. Our goal is to reach his fans all over the world to help us in this fundraising effort and reaching our financial goal.
Thank You, and God Bless you all!