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Dear Friends & Family,
I find it most unusual to be writing this narrative about myself and my hopes for a life-saving liver transplant. Yet at 51 years of age, with everything going my way — daughters happily married, a new grandson, healthy parents living with us, the freedom to enjoy time with my husband — Surprise! A tumor changed everything.
Without a liver transplant, the doctors say that my days on earth are few. As young child in my native Cuba, I contracted a prolonged course of hepatitis. Medicines were scarce as was food. My illness was a key factor in my parents’ decision to leave everything to immigrate to the US so that I would have better medical care and nutrition. I believe God took a difficult situation in my parents’ life and turned it into a blessing!
Years later, progressing cirrhosis took a toll on my body. Now cancer! The liver is the second most important organ in the body – second only to the heart – controlling over 400 vital functions. As a nurse, I know a little too much about what lies ahead. Craig and I have experienced God’s provision and healing many times. None was as life altering as the healing of our critically ill daughters many years ago. Our twins were born much too early. Those 5 months in NICU were horrible to say the least. God sustained them and comforted us. We witnessed God’s power first hand at a young age. That experience and the years following shaped us as people and Christian believers. I have had the pleasure of parenting three amazing girls and the family has since grown as we gained three precious sons-in-law and a new grandson. I’ve decided that I will fight to stay alive for them and for my generous friends, co-workers and family who have overwhelmed me with prayer, well-wishes, gifts and love.
Liver transplantation is not for wimps! It takes courage, emotional and physical support and yes, money. First, I ask for prayer. The waiting is difficult and this cancer needs to stay under control for me to continue to qualify for an organ. Pray that God be glorified and that He complete His perfect work in me. Pray for my family – that they be comforted, strong and tolerate the added burdens of care-giving. Secondly, please consider becoming an organ donor. Each donor can help eight people desperately waiting to live. Please visit to register in your state. Thirdly, as difficult as it is for me to ask, I need financial help. I have insurance as long as I can stay employed but COBRA coverage if needed will be cost-prohibitive. Also, medical care and anti-rejection medications will be a new life-long expense.
To help with my transplant-related expenses, my friends and family have established a fundraising campaign in my honor with HelpHOPELive, a nonprofit organization that has been assisting the transplant community for nearly 30 years. All contributions are tax-deductible, are held by HelpHOPELive in the Southeast Liver Transplant Fund, and are administered by HelpHOPELive for transplant-related expenses only. Your donation, no matter how modest is greatly appreciated.
Please make checks payable to:

Note memo section:
In honor of Issi Clesson

Updates (20)

January 29, 2013

Dear friends,

I wanted to let you know that God answered my prayer for pain relief. Many thanks to my prayer warriors who lifted this need to the Father!

The transplant doctor saw me on Tuesday and admitted to the hospital right away. I was treated by the anesthesia team and they did their procedures. I was so discouraged that first night but the next morning I awoke early feeling better and was able to walk the halls. The nurses that admitted me the previous day saw me walking happily and were amazed!

It was such a pleasure to move, sit and care for myself. The previous two weeks were awful. I spent every day and all day in bed totally still to avoid the horrible pain. My sweet husband nursed, fed, and met my every need while I was bedbound. Thank you Craig! Your kindness and patience has been astounding! I love you!

I am so happy! This may not be a permanent nor complete solution but I am greatly improved and enjoying life again. I have actually been out of the house some other than to the hospital! I went to Sunday worship services for the first time in three months today and sang with the choir then sat by dear friends and my kids. Wow! That was one of my first recovery goals. Next is getting all tests/consults done and getting well enough to be released so that I can return to work. Just a few more hurdles to go.

I am having problems again with my rejection drugs. Suddenly, levels started going down significantly becoming too low to save the liver. We know I was not protected for four days! This is a serious situation that puts the new organ at risk. Doses have been increased twice and I pray we are now at a therapeutic level. Blood tests on Tuesday will let us know. As I have said before, we don’t know what tomorrow holds. It’s always something. Surprises and challenges await us. That’s okay because I know who holds the future in His powerful hands!

Let me tell you about the fund raiser this week. It has been an overwhelming success!!! Wow!!!
Mt Zion, family, friends have gone above and beyond showing love in a tangible way. Some ate at Shane’s EVERY day! Oh my!!

Thank you to Shane’s Annistown Road for your generous participation. Thanks to Patrick Smith, my talented son-in-law, for his leadership in this campaign. Thank you to Leah Smith, my sweet daughter, for helping your husband and mama. Folks, you have touched me deeply! I will never forget your faces and act of love.

All for now, may you be blessed today. I continue my journey thankful to be alive!

Walking & trusting,

January 29, 2013

Thank You.
21 January 2013


Dear friends and family,

What an awesome response you have given to the event this week at Shane’s Rib Shack on Annistown Road in Centerville/Snellville! The event continues all week until Sunday. Many thanks for spreading the word to others.

My heart is encouraged to see your love in action. The outpouring of support has been wonderful! Many thanks to the staff and owner of Shane’s Annistown Road for their generosity!

I wanted to share an update on my health situation:

My labs were good last week and my new liver is working well! Hurrah! There is no cancer left inside me and recurrence chance is less than 5%. I have also been stabilized on anti-rejection medications and am able to tolerate most of the side effects fairly well. My open wound is now smaller and healing slowly. Praise God! These are major milestones!

I desperately want to return to work, church and normal activities. There is an ongoing problem though that has become totally disabling. I have excruciating abdominal pain when I walk, sit, or move. The pain is worse than anything I have felt before – like knives stabbing repeatedly in waves. The doctors believe this is a neurological problem. Regular pain medications have not worked. I am praying for a miracle – that this pain will subside enough for me to get out of bed back into life very soon.

Please join me in prayer for another miracle. Sadly, if I cannot return to work this week I will be terminated. This is heart breaking after 24 years of employment. This complication impacts us financially and hurts me emotionally. Please Lord; help me overcome this pain so I can return to work. I am not sure what God is trying to teach me with this pain. Maybe patience, maybe He is protecting me from something. I may never know. I will see the doctor again tomorrow and have MRIs this weekend. I hold hope for another miracle.

Lastly, I thank each of you for caring for me during this journey. I have not been alone! I love you and will never be able to repay your kindness to me and my family.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds. God is in control. I will trust him.



February 19, 2013

Issi, in all of the controlled chaos with Sam, I have been too slow in expressing our support and prayers for you. You are a person I admire and look up to, as do many. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Ben Thrower

October 25, 2012

Issi, many people are praying for you. God is amazing and I thank Him for your new liver. I pray the healing process goes smoothly for you. Can't wait to see you up and about again. Take care. Love you.

Pat Collins, GBC / Jubalheirs

October 24, 2012

Dear Sister, Let me encourage you as you always have done for me and others near you. Do not be afraid trust in our Lord's mighty hand for He is our healer. Love you.

Iris Martinez Sance

October 23, 2012

I welcome guest greetings!