A time of challenges: Mayor shares story of loved ones

Hello, friends and residents of Naperville. We’ve turned the page on February, which is always a special month to remember those in your lives that are near and dear to you. Perhaps you also took a moment to remember the birthdays of two men special to our nation — Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. I look up to both men’s leadership styles and am glad our nation takes time each year to remember their lives.

And maybe some of you will remember our former city attorney, Frank Cuneo, who shares his birthday — Feb. 22 — with George Washington. I’m proud to have three birthdays to celebrate in February, and I’m happy to have been able to call Frank to wish him a great year ahead.

Speaking of those special people in your life, I want to share with you what the Pradel family is facing, and I hope it will inspire you all to reach out to those you hold close and tell them what they mean to you. As some of you may know, my wife Pat was diagnosed almost 28 years ago with breast cancer. After a brief remission, the cancer returned in 2001. At that time, she lost the use of her left arm and hand. All of this came on the heels of my daughter Carol being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. At the age of 36, she had a double mastectomy.

In January of this year, my wife Pat underwent a bone scan. On Jan. 23, the doctors told her cancer had spread to all of her bones. Thankfully, the cancer has not spread to organs such as her brain or kidneys. A few weeks ago, Pat had a rod placed in her right leg to support her brittle bones. The operation was a success thanks to Dr. Troy Karlson of Edward Hospital. I also want to thank her primary doctor, Dr. Glen Grobe; her oncologist, Dr. Fariborze Barhamad; and her cardiologist, Dr. James Ostrenga.

Pat was at Edward Hospital for nearly a month and Edward’s outstanding team of professionals adhered to her condition with the utmost care. Pat is currently at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital to learn how to walk with the rod in her leg.

Carol has also not been immune to her own health challenges, as she had an operation in October to remove a cancerous softball-sized tumor. The cancer is stage one and doctors continue to monitor her. We are so grateful she is feeling good and can help Pat, who currently needs 24-hour care. My son Gary has also been the beneficiary of some of Edward Hospital’s wonderful medical care, and my sister-in-law Mary also spent time in the hospital recently due to her diagnosis of leukemia.

I couldn’t just be left out of the fold, and late last month I also spent a bit of time at Edward so they could monitor my heart. The doctors gave me excellent medical care, and after some tests and a few days at the hospital, I was discharged and now feel better than ever. I’m grateful that I am feeling good and have the strength and energy to serve my two loves: my family and the city of Naperville.

I am sharing my story with you for a few reasons. As mentioned earlier, I want everyone to make sure to take time to hug those who are special in your life and tell them that you care about them. I also want to publicly thank Edward Hospital, its doctors and nurses and its entire staff for their amazing care and concern. They are truly miracle workers. And finally, in sharing this information, you will better understand why Carol, Gary and I shaved our heads at the March 1 Public Safety St. Baldrick’s event. We stand in solidarity with Pat and all those, especially children, who have been afflicted by cancer.

My deepest thanks and appreciation go out to all of you who have shared your thoughts and prayers with me over the past few months. Naperville is a community that cares deeply about you when you’re going through some tough times. I’ve been reminded recently why this is the greatest community in the world, and it’s because of you. Thank you from the bottom of my once-again strong heart, and bless you all.

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