Help My Friend Mary

Mary is the type of person who faces life with a sense of humor and cares for her loyal friends despite her declining health. Simply put, she is much too young to be facing so many medical conditions, and with them, financial hurdles. Now Mary needs our help.


Four years ago, Mary broke her arm. Clumsy Mary! Soon after came another broken bone and then another. It went from laughing at clumsy Mary to realizing that a disturbing pattern was forming. Four years later, Mary is experiencing severe pain day and night and is racking up broken bones and surgeries at an alarming rate.

 Soon after the first few fractures, Mary had her first hospitalization for her chronic osteomyelitis, a serious bone infection.

Why do her bones break so easily? What started her chronic bone infection? Why won’t her bones heal? These were the questions that countless doctors encountered over the coming months.

38989828_1557003073723853_r.jpegAs of this original posting, Mary has had 10 orthopedic surgeries since 2015. These include 4 forearm, 4 hip and 2 shoulder surgeries, one of which was a total replacement. She will need to repeat the shoulder surgery every 5 years because Mary is 30 years too young for the age for whom the parts were made.

This surgical tally will only increase because her knees and ankles will be next. Her own body is waging a war on her bones and joints with no cure in sight. Doctors barely understand what is wrong, let alone how to fix it.

Last summer, with her walker in tow, I brought Mary to Soldier Field to see Taylor Swift. The journey was draining on her. Even with getting her as close as possible to the entrance, she moved slowly with frequent rest stops. The visible pain in her eyes was temporarily washed away once the sound of Taylor Swift’s voice filled the stadium. It’s these special moments where she almost forgets her pain… almost.

Mary’s bone diagnosis today includes EDS, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, osteomyelitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome and chronic pain syndrome. While she tries to maintain her trademark cheerfulness, pain has taken a toll on her disposition as it has on her bones and joints. Some days when we talk, I think to myself how she seems to be in good spirits today, but then I remember it’s a lie. She protects others from her pain and her financial worries. Perhaps it’s her way of seeking normalcy or maybe it is her way to make others feel more comfortable around her.

Meanwhile, concurrently, a whole new rash of symptoms began for Mary: severe, chronic fatigue, dizzy spells, losing her breath at any moment, chest pains, memory loss, fuzzy brain and an overwhelming feeling of unwell. These symptoms have now taken over her life… all day, every day.

She went to several doctors to figure out the cause of these symptoms and discovered she has severe anemia that does not respond to treatment, not even the IV infusions she receives in the hospital every two months. Recently, her symptoms led her hematologist to perform a blood test which brought some alarming answers. The results revealed that Mary has an autoimmune disease. She has an appointment with a rheumatologist at the end of May who will determine and diagnose which disease is plaguing her already battered body.

Dealing with this news has been very trying on Mary. I see her grieving the loss of who she once was before she became sick. Gone are the thoughts and conversations about when she’ll be better. She knows there aren’t cures for what ails her; only treatments. Along with depression and anxiety, being chronically ill has been very isolating for Mary, making any check-ins just to say hi a welcomed gift.


Mary has been unable to work for the last four years. As if the lack of income wasn’t enough, her medical bills continue to mount on a weekly basis with many doctor visits, surgeries, physical therapy and medications. Keeping track of her medical conditions, treatments, doctor appointments, medications and insurance has become a full-time job itself.

Not wanting to be a burden on her aging parents, she lives alone with her loyal furry sidekick, Raleigh, in a tiny, draft plagued apartment. She finds happiness in following the Chicago Cubs, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and seeks strength through God and the lyrics of Taylor Swift.

Besides her medical situation, Mary desperately needs help with the day-to-day bills we may take for granted including her rent, utilities and daily expenses. These have become a trigger her already inflamed anxiety disorder.

The money from this campaign will help her day to day and medical expenses. Unfortunately, assistance from federal disability in approximately 18-24 months. Currently, Mary has no income and is getting dangerously close to falling behind on her bills.

Please consider helping my friend. Along with her friends and family, I feel helpless as she faces one medical procedure after another. It won’t take way her chronic pain and illnesses, but it will ease the burden, some of her anxiety and hopefully bring an occasional smile to her face.

Thank you for reading this and for your consideration to help her survive in a sea of expenses. I know your contributions will mean the world to her, not only financially, but in the heartwarming knowledge that somebody out there cares.

Donations (0)

  • Courtney Friedman 
    • $50 
    • 29 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Agnieszka Sikora 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Cy Hodgson 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Elin Olson  
    • $50 
    • 1 mo

Organizer and beneficiary 

Jeff Berger 
Carol Stream, IL
Mary Clesen 
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