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DR. LITA MATHEWS BLOG
<< CHECK BACK FOR FREQUENT BLOG UPDATES >>
Welcome to the Official Dr. Lita Mathews Blog!
This blog offers readers details of Dr. Lita Mathews’ 6 year medical odyssey...It begins with her diagnosis with cirrhosis in April 2008, the result of a decades-old blood transfusion.

A diagnosis of cancer of the liver in February 2010 put Mathews on a waiting list numbering in the tens of thousands for a donor liver.  Lita's decision to make her story public inspired 7 people to volunteer to offer a part of their livers to help save Mathews, an American Indian with roots in Picuris Pueblo...read more below.
A Powwow Summer Book by Dr. Lita MathewsNEW Release of the 2nd edition of
"A Powwow Summer Across North America".

Pow Wow Summer features a forward with an update on the life of the author Dr. Lita Mathews since the writing of the first edition. It also has more photos of powwows and powwow people.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR COPY
 
Page Updated: June 01, 2014 07:06 PM
Dr Lita Mathews Organ Donation
Click on dates below to view each blog entry
2014 BLOGS:  
May 2014 March 4, 2014    
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  2013 BLOGS:  
October 24, 2013  July 6, 2013 April 5, 2013 January 5, 2013    
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  2012 BLOGS:   
November 19, 2012 October 6, 2012 July 9, 2012 June 26, 2012  April 9, 2012  
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  2011 BLOGS:    
     December 6, 2011 October 17, 2011  May 20, 2011      
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        2010 BLOGS:       
December 9, 2010 October 6, 2010 June 27, 2010 May 29, 2010 May 4, 2010 March 29, 2010
February 28, 2010 February 18, 2010 January 17, 2010      
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    2009 BLOGS:
December 5, 2009 October 9, 2009 September 3, 2009 August 1, 2009 June 19, 2009 May 5, 2009
March 23, 2009 February 20, 2009 January 17, 2009      
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  2008 BLOGS:
December 21, 2008  November 11, 2008 October 22, 2008 September 27, 2008 August 2, 2008  April 22, 2008
 
 
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May 2014
Dr. Lita Mathews Gets good Report At Mayo Clinic:
The week of May 20, 2014, after a few days of R & R on the Southern California Beach,May 2014 Dr. Lita Mathews and her family pulled into The Mayo Clinic in Phoenix Arizona for her 4th annual Post Liver Transplant Check-up. As usual the week long check began before 7:00 a.m. with a full spectrum of blood tests. Over 20 viles of blood were drawn from her right arm.
Later that day, and throughout the following 3 days Lita was poked, prodded and scanned. One of the biggest portions of the exam was the liver biopsy. The week long exam concluded with several consultations with the doctors and nurses of her Mayo Clinic team. The results of the exams showed that all was good for Lita. In fact the report was most similar to last year
One of the meetings with the doctors was to discuss Lita beginning once again another treatment to rid her of Hepatitis C. As was discussed earlier in the blog, Hepatitis C is a viral blood disease which attacks and devastates the liver and other organs of the body.

The goal is to stop the Hep C Virus before it has a chance to destroy her new liver. This new treatment is expected to begin near the 1st of July, and run for just 12 weeks. Unlike the other treatments to fight Hep C, this one is said to have fewer side effects and in clinical trials had greater than 85 percent rate of success.

So Dr. Lita and her family are not excited but encouraged that this time will be the cure. While on the treatment Lita intends to travel and dance at powwows around Indian Country this summer. The doctors have encouraged her to stay active and continue doing the this she enjoys doing.
The only warning is to protect her self from the harsh rays of the sun. She is excited about returning to the summer powwow trail to dance, compete and visit with friends.  
 
 
March 4, 2014
DR.LITA HEALTHY AND PREPARING FOR THE 2014 POWWOW SEASON:
Dr. Lita MathewsWell a few months have passed since my last blog and we are once again arriving at one of my favorite seasons of the year; Spring. As the sun gets brighter and the days get warmer, the rebirth and growth of spring time is all around. For me personally, I am the healthiest I have been in over five years.
With the new liver I received, I have been provided with an extension on to my life that I am most grateful for. Each and everyday I give thanks for my donor and my life. Since my last blog entry, I have continued to maintain a very healthy diet. Derek has become my nutritionist, and takes the perspective that food is medicine. He has gotten pretty good at it. He has learned which foods are best for us.
However all of it is not the most tasty. Fruits & veggies, protein, and grains are the main stay of our diet each day. Each day we begin our day with a 2 mile walk at sunrise. I now follow that up with another half hour to an hour on the stair master glider and stretches & weight bearing exercises.
Last summer, as we were traveling and I was dancing most weekends; I still did not truly feel as though I was at the strength and endurance levels that I remembered from before I got sick in 2008. My drive is to return to dancing again at the level I once did. I know this requires dedication and determination.
So for all these fall and winter months, I have worked hard to achieve this goal. I feel that I have done well and ready to begin the new powwow season as a serious competitive dancer. In the weeks and months after the transplant, I had so much to re-learn physically. Though I could walk, I had forgotten how to walk up and down stairs. My balance was way off. And to dance the stationary traditional style, in a twenty five pound buckskin dress, balance is very important.
So my first few times back into the arena to dance was another learning process. I had a new and different mind and body to coordinate with. The muscles in my stomach had been cut through, in order to place my new liver. This meant that also muscle tissue had been cut. Only time and good care would provide the path to healing. The healing in that area has come along very well. I have found more energy, and my balance. I am now ready to get out there again.
But first comes the Gathering! As part of my personal joy of the spring time is the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. Seeing so many people again with big smiles and good wishes, is a joy. The Gathering is so special to me and so many people from everywhere. This year at the Gathering I will once again sponsor the Long Hair Contest. Both men and women are invited to participate.
Dr. Lita - March BlogThe last long hair contest at the Gathering was in 2008, the year I took sick just days before the start of the pow wow. In 2009 after a single treatment of chemotherapy, to isolate a cancer in my old liver before the transplant, I lost all of my long hair. I have been so blessed that my hair has grown back. And to celebrate I have decide to hold the 2014 Long hair contest on Friday afternoon at the 2014 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.
Despite all of my good and positive return to somewhat good health, there are so many powwow people who I have heard from, and are now experiencing health struggles. I feel for all of them, as I like no one else can understand.
My only advice from all of what I have gone through, is to think positive. Believe in yourself and the spirits which protect you. Your determination and will are the strongest assets. For myself there too remains health challenges, as someday I hope to completely defeat this Hep C.
I thank all of you for all of your support and prayers. I ask you to now send prayers and good thoughts to others who also need the same support. I hope to see many of you at the Gathering and on the powwow trail this summer. I look forward to dancing, and watching others dance. 
 
 
October 24, 2013
Well folks the summer of 2013 has come and gone. It was the best summer I have had in a few years. It all began for me with the 2013 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. It was our 30th Gathering; and it was the very best. The dancing and singing was super great. The Music in the Pit and on Stage 49 were also the best. This year brought out many people who I have not seen in years.
Two weeks after the Gathering I had my third annual post liver transplant check up at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. After the life threatening issues I experienced last December when the Hepatitis C treatment ended, I was not looking forward to this Mayo Clinic appointment. However after two full days of blood tests, X-Rays, Scans, and other exams the consultation with the doctor was way better than I was anticipating. The doctor reviewed the results with the three of us (Derek, Melonie and me) and said that I was in pretty good shape. My liver was doing very good and over all I was quite healthy. There was mention of the Hep C level. The Hep C is still there, however was somewhat low and not raising it's ugly head at the time. I was told that in comparison to most people at the three year post transplant exam, I was in the top five percent. At the end of the consultation, the Doctor told me to go and have a great summer and I did just that. October Dr. Lita

With that good news, The three of us headed out of the Mayo Clinic with big smiles and onto the summer powwow trail. first stop was Cherokee North Carolina. And from there we zig-zagged back and forth across the country in our big black truck, traveling over twenty five thousand miles. As the summer went on, my dancing skills were returning. I was feeling my old form as a traditional dancer and more natural each week. My dresses each weigh about 30 pounds. Before I left the hospital after the liver transplant, the doctors told me that the complete recovery and feeling like my old self would take a long time. I found that to be true. As my dancing skills and strength was improving, I notice and could feel sensations across my stomach as the nerves and in that area of my body where the incision was made, began to tingle and itch as they were waking up and becoming sensitive. This was a strange feeling, but I was very pleased to have it happening. Each weekend I was registered as a contest dancer. I danced hard. And as a very competitive dancer, I was a bit disappointed with the results of the contest at the end of the powwows, as seldom was my name called as a winner. Before I took ill in 2008, I was a pretty good dancer, and was placing in the competition nearly every weekend. One of the personal highlights of the summer of 2013 for me happened in Minnesota at the Shokapee powwow, when Madelyn goodwill (traditional dancer)told me that her friend had video recorded our contest and after they had seen the video, agreed that Dr. Lita (me) was back and looking like her champion dancing self. I was elated! But the times have changed and I have to admit that I had to look at the many other reasons for dancing. I enjoy my style of dance. I am very grateful to the generous gift of life provided to me by the donor of my liver. So I celebrate that great gift each time I step into the dance arena. And most of all I am dancing, because I can!
In between the powwow weekends My family & I were also able to take in our second passion. That being the concert music scene. We took in several shows by some of our most favorite groups. I believe that a lot of my continued recovery is based upon the feelings I receive from the dancing and the drums at powwows, the music I enjoy and the continued prayers and ceremonies on my behalf. We are now back in Albuquerque, and settling into home life, which offers another world of enjoyment for me. Just a few days ago, for the first time in five years, I was able to take a long bike ride with Derek. We traveled on our bikes for about a ten mile journey through the nature park (The Bosque) along the Rio Grande River, which passes through Albuquerque. I have also enjoyed again the beautiful and colorful balloons which float over our house during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. I am also very happy to be back home with our fantastic Maine Coon Cat, Spooky. Spooky is my certified companion animal.

Throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons I will continue my recovery by focusing on my exercise conditioning, and diet while the three of us must once again turn our focus to the production of the greatest show in Indian Country, The 2014 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. I hope to see everyone who may read my blog and so many others in 2014 at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.
COME TO ALBUQUERQUE! 
 
 
July 6, 2013 
July 2013
Doing Well and Enjoying the PowWow Summer.
Full update coming soon!

 
 
April 5, 2013
April 2013I am feeling much better now and looking forward to the 2013 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. For so many reasons, this past December was perhaps the toughest days of my life since the transplant. The side effects from the treatment were so severe I was not sure I was going to survive, but with the quality of my medical team and the rock solid support of my family, I pulled through it. The ordeal left me very weak and unsteady. My weight dropped to 99 pounds but my recovery was rapid. It was Derek and Melonie who refused to give up on me. They forced me to get out of bed and off the couch to begin exercise. In the beginning it was like learning to walk again, as my energy levels were so low. Derek was persistent about diet and a bottle of Ensure a day. By the end of December 2012 I was strong enough to begin our morning walks again and the use of strength building equipment.
The past five years for me, Derek and Melonie have been extremely trying. With all of my health issues, we have somehow been able to step up and produce the Gathering.
Derek and Melonie, and all of the many people praying for me have given me the strength to pull through all of this. They have given me the very desire to live!
But it is the Gathering that gives all three if us the strength and motivation to keep going. So many people have told me that I am a strong woman. But the reality of my strength comes from the support and encouragement from so many people. To that I am so grateful!
It was 5 years ago just before the start of the 2008 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, that I got very ill. It was then that my medical journey to recovery began.
I was scared, as my life was not doing well. I did not know If I would even live to see the Gathering that year. Working OutWhen the doctor released me to go to the pow wow, I new that my healing had begun. I was headed to the Gathering where the songs and the people would provide a spiritual uplifting to what seemed so grim.
And again this past December became another test of my desire to live.
With that I look forward to the Gathering coming and how much it means to so many people.
As I recovered the excitement of the Gathering began to grow. I thought about the people whom I would be able to see once again and also those who have, passed on in the past year and will not be there. Our powwow family has lost a lot of great people over the past year. I lost a good friend...my friend Rosie, whom I met at the Mayo clinic in 2010, as we both received liver transplants just days apart, past away during the days of my December illness. So I dedicate this years pow wow to her memory as we shared something so dear to us.
On the brighter side I just want to see all the people and hear the drums. What a healing for me...What a good feeling it will be for every one.
This will be my last blog entry for a while. However if something comes up or a turn in my health that I want to share, I will offer a new entry.
To all of you, Thank You Very much for your support and prayers. I ask you to keep me in your hearts and prayers, as my journey is not yet full filled.
Please come to Albuquerque for the Gathering if You can.
There's a magic about the Gathering! -- Dr. Lita Mathews
 
 
January 5, 2013
Dr. Lita Mathews - January 2013Rough going for Dr. Lita Mathews!
The treatment has been stopped and the lingering side effects are nearly too much to handle. As it was mentioned in an earlier entry, Dr. Lita Mathews had the good fortune from the results of the treatment which reduced the Hepatitis C virus to un-detectable levels. This was done in a remarkable period of time; less than seven weeks of the treatment. The average time expected to reduce the viral count is closer to twelve weeks.
 
With that in mind, the treatment now was given the go ahead to continue for the completed term of forty eight weeks. However by week eight of treatment, Dr. Lita began to experience many and severe side effects related to the treatment. She was beginning to suffer form excessive diarrhea, lack of appetite, headaches, flu like symptoms, dry skin, leg swelling, and very serious dehydration. Also at this time Lita Mathews began to experience the various markers from the results of blood tests such as very low red and white blood cell counts and elevated liver levels. After some consideration Lita was instructed to suspend the treatment temporarily and return back to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ for more exams to find out what was going on.

It was on December 4th when Lita and Derek met with Mayo Clinic doctors and after a full round of Lab work, blood tests and scans on Lita's liver area. The blood test showed some improvement in the levels of most areas. However Lita remained very weak and the scans revealed that all was good with her liver. However, the Medical team informed Lita and Derek during this clinic visit that the Treatment was to be completely terminated. What was being seen was that the treatment had successfully reduced the Hep C however it now was beginning to do damage to Lita.

With that news Lita Mathews returned home to Albuquerque, NM to begin the recovery from the treatment and to plan to get on with her life. She was instructed to return to a reduced amount of medication, of her anti rejection prescription. It was also understood that it would take some time for Lita Mathews to regain her strength and return back to normal. However she had no Idea what was still to come as a result of the treatment.
It was late on the evening of December 11th, When Dr. Lita Mathews and Rusty Gillette had just completed the final edits on the soon to be released, Gathering of Nations book celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. Lita was preparing for bed when suddenly she began experiencing the start of a severe nose bleed.
Derek and Melonie determined very quickly that this nose bleed was not going to stop with the simple procedure of tipping the head back and pinching the nose together. Lita was loosing a lot of blood and fast! So Derek and Melonie expressed Lita to the emergency room at a hospital near their home in Albuquerque. They arrived at the hospital about 11:00 p.m. By that time Derek and Melonie had gotten Lita to the hospital, the blood was now coming out from her eyes and ears.
Soon after arriving at the hospital the doctors and nurses began to attempt to stop the nose bleed, but they were unsuccessful. Next, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist was called in to make another attempt to stop the nose bleed. He too could not stop the bleeding, however he inflated a small balloon impactment to apply mass pressure to the bleed location deep in Lita's right nostril. This was very painful for Lita and her face began to swell from the packing in her nose which also left a six inch string hanging from her nose. This balloon did stop the bleeding and the family returned home from the emergency room weak and tired around 6:00 a.m.

The packing remained in her nose for the next three days. Two days after the nose bleed began, it was determined by the family after Lita`s sister Yolanda (a registered nurse) came to check up on her older sister that Lita was taken to visit her local primary physician. It was determined that Lita needed more immediate attention for the weakness, severe dehydration and health other issues.
An ambulance was called and Lita was then taken to another Albuquerque area hospital Emergency Room. Lita was so weak that she could not stand up alone or stay awake. Her speech was slurred and in-audible. In the ambulance an IV was started with a saline solution to begin hydrating her. While at the hospital, several blood test were taken and other tests of which all were showing signs of out of normal levels but yet improving from previous test that Dr. Lita performed. The massive nose bleed was caused by extreme dehydration and all of this trauma was the results of the treatment to fight the Hep C virus.

After receiving nearly five bags of the saline solution, her blood pressure returned from ultra high levels (380/200) to very acceptable levels (120/55) and Lita was allowed to return home. The next morning Lita and her family met with a specialist to remove the packing from her nose and to see if the bleeding had stopped.
When the packing was removed, the results were good and the bleeding had stopped. The doctor did just a bit more work to ensure that the bleed would not reoccur again. Lita was discharged and she returned home to begin her recovery.

Since this experience a few days and weeks have gone by and Lita Mathews is on a very fast track to recovery. Recent blood test have shown all levels returning to normal and her strength is coming back as well. However, through this ordeal Dr. Lita has lost several pounds of her weight and is less than one hundred pounds.

Lita is now relaxing at home and preparing for the work ahead as the family and friends begin the advance plans for the 30th annual Gathering of Nations PowWow. Lita will continue to recover and her Mayo Clinic team of doctors, along with her primary physician will continue to monitor her progress to recovery. It will be several months down the road which will determine if Hep C has been defeated.

The cost for the treatment program has been excessive and at a high cost above the benefits of the family insurance plan. If you would like to contribute to the fund established to assist Dr. Lita Mathews with her medical bills related to the Hep C treatment program. All contributions are welcome and greatly appreciated. to donate please go to http://www.indiegogo.com/drlitamathews.
 
 
November 19, 2012
Dr. Lita Gets good News from the Doctors!
Dr. Lita MathewsIt was on Wednesday November 14th, that Dr. Lita Mathews' Hepatitis C treatment program crossed a major mile stone. If you recall from previous blog entries, it was mentioned that by the 12th week of the treatment program, the Hep C viral count had to be below 100. If not below 100 the treatment would be stopped in order to prevent the body to becoming immune to the to the drug cocktail treatment. It was after Lita`s week 8 check up that the doctors at the Mayo clinic informed her that the Hep C viral count was not only below 100, it was completely undetectable. This information was received by Lita Mathews and her family as great news! However with the news, the treatment will continue for another twenty four to thirty six weeks.
The purpose for continuing the treatment is to attempt to beat down and to destroy the virus. The treatment has provide Lita with several weekly challenges as to dealing with side effects such as the flu like symptoms: constant runny nose, body aches, foot swelling, and overall exhausted feeling. The worst day for her was Thursday. Thursday is the day after she receives the Ribavirin injection. The Ribavirin is one of three drugs required for her to take. The other two drugs are in pill form and taken daily.
Lita is a strong and determined person, however the added support of her family and close friends seems to be providing her the added strength and confidence to complete the program. Her goal is to finally get rid of this horrible blood virus once and for all, then return to the life she enjoys. Lita Mathews wishes to thank all of you for the support and prayers given. Please have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

The cost for this medical treatment is very expensive. If any one would like to assist Dr. Lita and her family with these medical bill, please go to
http://www.indiegogo.com/drlitamathews
 
 
October 6, 2012
Dr. Lita Begins treatment to End Her Fight with Hep C:

October 2012On August 28th Dr. Lita and Derek traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix Arizona, to begin the treatment to remove the Hepatitis Virus from her body.

The appointment at mayo began with a battery of blood tests, followed by consultation with Dr. David Douglas and his Post Liver Transplant Team.

The results of the mornings test were very good. Lita remains a very healthy person, with just one issue to over come. As it had been discussed with the Mathews family prior to the liver transplant that there would be a great possibility that the Hepatitis virus would remain in the blood. It is more of a blood disease which radically attacks the liver.

Last May at Dr. Lita's second annual check up, she was told that the virus count was again on the rise. The virus count was at approximately six million. They also said that this was not a drastically high number, but should be address and the treatment to begin to save her new liver. The doctor at that meeting told the family that Lita had a very good chance of defeating the virus and enjoying a good quality of life for a long time, after the completion of the treatment. Prior to the liver transplant Lita was on the treatment for fifteen months. Her body responded to the treatment and reduced the viral count to a negative level. However the liver was just too far gone to sustain any real success. And now with the fact that her body once responded well to the treatment, and with a new added drug to the mix, Dr. Lita Mathews has better than an 80 percent chance of winning this battle. It was recommended to begin the treatment in August.

Prior to the start of the treatment this past August, Lita, Derek, and Melonie spent the summer of 2012 traveling over thirty thousand miles in their big black truck traveling to powwows and musical events. Some of the events were Powwows in California, Minnesota, Wyoming, New Mexico, New York State, and Ontario Canada. Along with the journey on the powwow trail, the family attended music festivals and concerts in Manchester Tennessee (Bonnaroo Music festival 4 days), Ravina In Chicago (Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeshi), Chicago Northerly Island (Further/Grateful Dead), Albuquerque Zoo (Ziggy Marley), Red Rocks Colorado (String Cheese Incident), Chicago (The Luna Blues Machine), and Sandia Casino-Amphitheatre (Todeshi/Trucks Band). Lita believes that the drums, dancing and the Music are all part of her healing. Just one week before the treatment was to begin, The Mathews family and their friends came together with a very respected Lakota holy man, to conduct a ceremony for Lita's healing and strength to under go the treatment. During the Ceremony Lita was told that this journey that she is on was pre determined before her birth and that it is important for her to tell her story to others. She was also told during the ceremony that the treatment would be tougher in some ways while easier to endure in others.

It was stated here earlier that last May Dr. Lita's Hepatitis Viral level was at six million. the results of the blood test on August 28th was that the viral count had reduced to three million. The family found this to be great news as this result was due to the ceremony. No other attempt to lower the viral count had been made at that point. On September 24th, Lita had her first monthly check up at the Mayo. The test results showed that the treatment was going well. The Viral count had been again reduced to two hundred and forty thousand, from three million just one month earlier. Again this was fantastic news! However this treatment has many side effects which Lita has been experiencing such as head aches, exhaustion, body aches, and lowered red and white blood cells & lowered immune system. If the red and white blood cell count gets too low, Lita will then receive additional injection of medication to improve the blood counts. Every day she takes hand full of pills several times per day, and an injection each Wednesday. Lita receives assistance from her Primary care to give her the injection. Her sister and Melonie will be assisting later as well.

At the end of November (week 12 of 48) The viral count must be reduced to less than 100 or the treatment will be stopped to prevent the body from becoming immune. And this will allow the treatment to be attempted at a later time. However everyone is thinking positive that the viral count will hit the targeted point and the treatment will continue to it's end on week 48 (mid July 2013)

Dr. Lita and her Family want to thank everyone for their support and prayers through out this ordeal. She will spend the winter months selling ads for the program book and other activities as the Gathering of Nations Pow wow gets closer. She hopes to return to dancing and the powwow trail next summer.

The cost for this medical treatment is very expensive. If any one would like to assist Dr. Lita and her family with these medical bill, please go to
www.indiegogo.com and search: Lita Mathews.
 
 
July 19, 2012
Dr. Lita MathewsDR. LITA MATHEWS TO UNDER-GO FINAL MEDICAL TREATMENT TO DESTROY HEP C:

Before I ever got the transplant, Dr. Douglas, head of the Department at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ explained:

1. That the new liver would not get rid of the Hepatitis C but rather provided a fresh step.

2. That recipients of a partial liver from a living donor sometimes can have more difficulties of the new liver adjusting to the body. I have been blessed and lucky that I have had no problems with my new liver.

3. Also sometimes a live donation from an older living donor sometimes experience the Hep. c returning with a raging vengeance. My donor was at the oldest age allowed to be a donor. But in my favor, my donor was a Native Woman, approximately the same size as me and in great health. She was a perfect match for me!

With that said, we were told from then till now that the Hep. c could raise its ugly head again. At my 1st annual check up the Hepatitis C (Hep. C) numbers remained low. It was this past February, my blood test began to show suspicion of something going on. Through it all, over the past 2 years my health and energy have continued to improve greatly. Derek tells me that over the past 30 years of our relationship, he has never known me to be this strong and mentally sharp. However at my second annual check up this past may at the Mayo Clinic, they ran the usual gamut of tests. At the end of camp mayo week in Phoenix; when we met with the doctor to go over the results of the test. We were told that I was one healthy little chick except for one thing....the Hep. C numbers were on the rise. They then recommended that I return to the treatment, this time to destroy the virus and save my beautiful and healthy new liver (Lucy Begay which was named by my transplant surgeon). However since the last time I was on the treatment before the transplant in May 2010, there have been some vast improvements to the treatment. So after we (3) talked it over, we let the Mayo team know that I will do the treatment.
It will begin on August 29th, it will require me to begin treatment with 2 meds. 1 is a weekly injection and the other is a pill taken once a day. Four weeks into the treatment program, another oral med will be added. I will take that one 3 times per day. At 12 weeks into the treatment program the Mayo Clinic team will check the Hep. c levels. If they are from 100 to below 0, they will continue the treatment for another 36 weeks. The total treatment will be 48 weeks. The positives are that I am healthy now, and if all goes well this devil will be no longer the menace of my life. So that is it. The docs are positive and we are too. My sister, Yolanda has agreed to administer the shot each week. She will be going to The Mayo Clinic with us at the end of August to meet the medical team and officially join the team to make this happen. Throughout the treatment program I will attempt to continue all that in my life is important to me. As my energy level will allow me, I will continue to dance. I will be an active participant in the planning and production of the 2013 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, and maintain my daily exercise program. I believe that getting through it will require me to maintain my strength, a healthy diet, an my spirituality. I have a great team to back me up. 

ON A PERSONAL NOTE: On more occasions then I can count I have been approached by various individuals, such as: dancers, singers, powwow fans, and absolute strangers. The reason for this is to tell me their personal connection to me... Dr. Lita. What they have said humbles me and blows my mind every time! Apparently, I have touched many people by my actions and the kind of person I have been throughout my dancing and my academic career. I have been told that I have been an inspiration and given reason to pursue higher educational goals. Dancers have read my book;
"A POWWOW SUMMER ACROSS NORTH AMERICA" and seen my growth as a dancer and educator which in turn has inspired them to believe that they too can achieve in ways to improve their own lives. Since my illness I have let people (through this blog) from everywhere know about my struggles to stay alive fighting Hepatitis C. After 15 months of treatment I had to face the fact that I needed a liver transplant which I survived with the help of family, friends, and powwow people. I have been lifted up by so many known and unknown good people throughout my fight. Through prayer and ceremonies my spirit and my health I continue to be forever grateful.

The cost of this medical treatment for Dr Lita Mathews is expected to cost more than one hundred thousand dollars. Lita has a very good insurance policy. However her out of pocket expense will be approximately $30,000. If you would like to make a contribution and help her with this expense, please go to http://www.indiegogo.com/drlitamathews

 
 
June 26, 2012 
DR. LITA HAS 2nd ANNUAL MEDICAL CHECK UP: Dr. Lita Mathews
On May 25th, 2012 Dr. Lita Mathews completed her second annual post liver transplant checkup. After several days of examinations at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix Arizona, the results demonstrated that she is in the best of health. Her new liver is functioning well; however there is an issue which will need some attention in a few weeks.
The doctors for now have given Lita the green light to enjoy her summer and she is in great health and at full strength.

Dr. Lita Mathews and her family have big plans for travel as she and Melonie get back to Dancing each week end at pow wows across Turtle Island.

Derek is all set and happy to put in the long hours on the highway, driving to the various Pow wows and music festivals. Music is a healing passion for and in Dr. Lita's next blog, She will reveal the new Challenge facing her and her new liver, but for the next several weeks she hopes to enjoy herself and to see many of her friends on the pow wow trail. 
 
 
April 9, 2012 
Dr. Lita Mathews at Hard Rock CafeDr. Lita Doing Well And Ready For GON:
Well here It is, nearly two years since my Liver transplant. I have been doing very well. I continue to get stronger each and every day. My regular exercise regiment and diet, I believe has attributed to my improvement. As with all who have received transplants there is that continued adjustment. My liver is very healthy, and I am thankful for that. My life long medication for anti rejection has been reduced to a near minimum. Just after the liver transplant, I was taking a handful of pills twice each day. It has now been reduced to just one pill, twice each day. The Infection which developed in the liver in July of 2010, seems to have been cleared up. And the antibiotic which I was taking for that, has been discontinued. I have had a great year! It felt good to return to dancing at powwows and enjoying music. The travel has been again enjoyable. I also believe that this has been my best year back at work, preparing for the Gathering of Nations Powwow. The advertising campaign for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow Program / magazine was very successful. This year's program book, I believe is the best! It is packed with pages of great stories, great photos, Info on up coming powwows, and so many memories. I am looking forward to the Gatherings! It is now just a few days away. The sound of the drums and the excitement of seeing all the dancers, remains at the center of my healing. I hope to even get out to Stage 49 to hear some of the great Music. I hope to see all of you there. Please come to Albuquerque! I will return to Mayo Clinic near the end of May, for my second annual check up. And as always I thank all of you for your prayers, support and encouragement. I will be forever grateful. 
Dr. Lita Mathews
 
 
December 6, 2011
6 mo. after 1st Post Liver Check-Up:
(This single entry by Lita Mathews)
6 Mo. after 1st Post Liver Check UpSix months has passed since I had my first annual post liver check up at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix Arizona. At that check up I was give a good and clear bill of health. My recovery from the transplant was coming along well. Since that time my family and I have spent the summer back on the pow wow trail. Our travels took us to events from coast to coast. We traveled over twenty five thousand miles.
My return to the dance arena was a dream come true for me. This was my goal in recovery. In the beginning the dancing and the long distances traveled in our Black truck was a bit much for me. But as the summer progressed, I rapidly gained my strength and stamina. It was a great and exhilarated journey. Seeing and dancing again in the many pow wow arenas with others was great. You have no real idea how good something is until you nearly loose it. the sound of the drums for me is a part of my healing. On November 22nd, I returned to the mayo Clinic for a dermatological skin exam. The purpose of this exam is to check my body for signs of skin cancer. the only medication which I am prescribed to take for anti rejection of my new liver has a side effect which may cause skin cancer.

To my joy and delight the exam showed no signs of skin cancer. I heeded my doctor's warning and through the entire summer I slapped on the sun screen and added the wearing of a hat during the daytime hours at the out door pow wows. The summer was a time for me of reflection and thanks. If it was not for the prayers and ceremonies by those who were concerned for my health and the generous donation of my donor, my life would have been over by now. As we traveled, I met many Native and others who have also successfully had organ transplants. I also met and spoke to others who now are waiting for a donor. I have dedicated my life to encourage everyone to consider becoming an organ donor. Truly, as I see it, the gift of organ donation is a gift of life. This gift from the generous donor is a major part of our continued circle of life. To all those who have become donors, they are heroes. As we now move foreword through these winter and spring months, I am excited about the 2012 pow wow season ahead. It begins for me with the 2012 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. I truly believe that the "Gathering" is a place of healing for those who attend. I hope to see everyone and to greet them again at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.
Dr. Lita Mathews, December 2011
 
 
 
October 17, 2011

Gift of Life:

By Olivier Uyttebrouck / Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer, (Left to Right) Melonie, Lita & Derek Mathews & Beverly Singer

When a severe attack of cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis C in 2008 put Lita Mathews on the road to a liver transplant, she responded in a way unusual for Native Americans: she started a blog and talked about her disease publicly.
Her illness began with bleeding ulcers that sent her to a hospital just days before the start of the 2008 Gathering of Nations powwow, which Mathews and her family have organized for 29 years.

The blog, posted on the Gathering of Nations website, offers readers details of Mathews’ three-year medical odyssey. It begins with her diagnosis with cirrhosis in April 2008, the result of a decades-old blood transfusion.
A diagnosis of cancer of the liver in February 2010 put Mathews on a waiting list numbering in the tens of thousands for a donor liver. Her decision to make her story public inspired seven people to volunteer to offer a part of their livers to help save Mathews, an American Indian with roots in Picuris Pueblo.
The volunteer who turned out to have the most compatible match was the ex-wife of Mathews’ husband.
“It took me completely by surprise that she was willing to give me a piece of herself so that I could live,” Mathews said of Beverly Singer, who donated 60 percent of her liver for the May 28, 2010, transplant surgery at Mayo Clinic of Arizona.
“You can give so many things away to people, but the gift of life is the ultimate gift,” she said. “That’s what Beverly gave me.”
Singer, a native of Santa Clara Pueblo/Navajo, provided a liver that matched Mathews so well that the transplant surgeon call it a “miracle of miracles,” said Mathews’ husband, Derek Mathews. Typically, surgeons have to stimulate the transplanted liver with drugs to encourage it to function, but Singer’s liver required nothing, he said.

By finding a living donor, Mathews was able to avoid the long wait that eventually kills many of the 17,000 people in the United States now registered for a donor liver with the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network.
“In many ways it was a miracle that I was able to find exactly what they needed for me,” said Mathews in a recent interview. “It’s not that easy for most people who have to wait, and I didn’t have to wait.”

                       
The long wait Native Americans typically must wait. And too often, they die waiting.
Native Americans make up a disproportionate share of New Mexicans waiting for donor organs, according to data from New Mexico Donor Services, a nonprofit that oversees organ donations in the state.
Native Americans, who make up 9.4 percent of the state’s population, account for 23 percent of the 423 New Mexicans waiting for a kidney transplant. As of July 30, Native Americans accounted for about 15 percent of all New Mexicans waiting for any kind of donated organ.
Native Americans share a genetic heritage that can make it difficult to match them with a suitable donor, said Maria Sanders, a spokeswoman for New Mexico Donor Services. The fact that Singer and Mathews are both Pueblo women was a key reason for the transplant’s success, she said.
“That’s part of the reason we want more Native American donors, because the matches are much better,” Sanders said. “The individual that gets the transplant does so much better.”
But many Native Americans will not consider donating an organ, possibly because of traditional beliefs, Sanders said.
Sanders frequently discusses organ donation at public events around New Mexico. She spoke about two years ago to about 30 people at an Indian Health Services office in Albuquerque. “Individuals who did not want to hear the information being presented either looked down or turned away from me,” she said. About half the people in the room turned away while Sanders spoke.
Sanders also registers organ donors each year at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. This year, she said, about 10 New Mexicans registered as donors, she said.
“Many people that stop by our table say basically (organ donation) is against their beliefs,” Sanders said.
The attitude is especially prevalent among New Mexicans, she said. “Native Americans from other areas, such as the East Coast, are more willing to donate than Native Americans here in New Mexico.”

Who donates?
New Mexico’s Donate Life donor registry last year exceeded 1 million, meaning about half of New Mexicans have agreed to allow their organs and tissues to be harvested at the time of their deaths.
The state Motor Vehicle Division does not track organ donors by ethnicity. But in McKinley County, where Native Americans make up about 75 percent of the population, only 18 percent of residents are registered as organ donors, Sanders said.
A high proportion of Native Americans also have chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure that would disqualify them as either organ donors or recipients, she said.

Value of community
Singer, a professor of anthropology and Native American studies at the University of New Mexico, said she decided to speak publicly about her decision to donate her liver because she recognized the need for more Native Americans to consider donating an organ.
Organ donation squares with traditional values of community that are too often overlooked by contemporary Native Americans, Singer said.
“I think we live in a very self-centered community sometimes,” Singer said. She also wants people to know that donating an organ has improved her outlook on life and made her less critical of others.
“I don’t think that I’m so worried about what’s going to happen in the future,” she said. “I know that everything takes care of itself.”

 
 
May 20, 2011

Dr. Lita Makes First Annual Post Liver Transplant Check-up:

The Mathews family arrived in Phoenix Arizona on Tuesday May 17, 2011 for Dr. Lita Mathews' fiDr. Lita Mathews Traditional Native American Dancer photo rst annual post liver transplant check up exams at the Mayo Clinic. The exams began early Wednesday morning with a series of blood tests followed by an MRI and a liver biopsy. On Thursday May 19th once again at sunrise Dr. Lita was in the Mayo Clinic to continue the series of rigorous exams. That afternoon when all of the exams were completed, she and Derek and Melonie met with the Post Liver Transplant Nurse/Coordinator, followed by a lengthy visit with the doctor. After a body check of her scar and questions pertaining to how she has been doing since her last visit at the Mayo Clinic last fall, the doctor began to review the results of the exams. All of her blood test had positive results. And to the joy of the Doctors and the Mathews family, the results of the liver biopsy showed all was going well with her new liver. The concern that the Hepatitis C and liver scaring had returned was negative. Doctor Vargas gave Dr. Lita the clearance to return to her complete normal way of life. For her and her family this means she can return to competitive dancing and unlimited travel. However this goes without saying that her new normal will always require paying attention to her health and to take great care of her new liver.

It was three years ago just before the start of the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow that Dr. Lita Mathews was stricken with complications related to Hepatitis C which had caused cirrhosis of her liver. After that for the next fifteen months Lita was being vigorously treated for the Hep C. Throughout the treatment period, the Hep C levels had been reduced to negative and was not visible. No sooner that the treatment was completed, it was detected that the Hep C treatment had caused a cancer tumor in the liver, and the Hepatitis had returned. This meant that Lita needed a liver transplant as soon as possible to save her life. Her doctor in Albuquerque recommended she go to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix to be evaluated and to seek the new liver. During the next few weeks seven people came foreword to donate a portion of their liver to Lita. Of the seven, only one passed all the exams to become eligible to donate the liver. At the start of the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, April 23, 2010, the family received the good news that the living donor candidate had passed all tests and was ready to donate the liver. The date was then set and on May 28th, 2010 Dr. Lita Mathews and her liver donor walked from the hotel and into the Mayo Clinic Hospital for the liver transplant surgery. The transplant was a success.

Dr. Lita Mathews "Peace"For one year the doctors observed the recovery of her health and the fact that the new liver was working properly without rejection. During that one year Lita became an advocate for organ donors. In February 2011, The Gathering of Nations Powwow won the Grammy for the best Native American Music Album. During the acceptance speeches by Derek, Melonie, and Dr. Lita, Lita spoke to the audience and the world expressing the need for everyone to consider becoming an organ donor. She told the people that if it had not been for a generous individual who donated a piece of her liver, she would have not been alive to receive the Grammy award. At the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, this past April (2011) Dr. Lita again addressed the audience both in the stadium and on the internet and encouraged all people to consider becoming a donor. She was more specific concerning the need for Native American people to become donors. She discussed the desperate need of many Native people who need organ transplants. She said that it is time to alter the personal and traditional ways of thinking which prevents Native Americans from becoming donors. Her donor was a traditional Native American woman who saw the need and had the desire to share life. The donation of organs is one way to complete and to extend the circle of life.

Dr. Lita will continue to be an advocate for transplant donors and to encourage people to sign the back of the driver's license. She and her family wish to thank all the many Native people who conducted ceremonies and the others around the world who offered prayers for her return to good health. She is determined to not let them down as she has been given a second chance to move forward with her life.

Dr Lita Mathews - Save a life, become an organ donor

 
 
December 9, 2010

Dr. Lita Mathews Returns To The Mayo Clinic For The Transplant Reunion:

It was on Saturday October 23rd, 2010 when Dr. Lita Mathews and her family attended the Mayo Clinic Liver Transplant Reunion. The reunion was held on the Mayo Clinic campus in Phoenix Arizona. It is intended to bring together all of the many liver transplant recipients who have received a new liver over the past eleven years. It was a great celebration of life re-newed. With more than two hundred transplant recipients in attendance, it was most impressive when they were all called upon to stand up. later the event had a very emotional moment when Dr. Douglas asked the parents of a deceased liver donor to please stand up to be recognized.

The reunion/luncheon featured great and health food as many of the liver transplant team members were there, including Dr. Douglas (Department Head), Dr. Mulligan (Transplant Surgeon), Dr. Vega, several transplant coordinators and others. Lita was very happy to see her new friend Rosie Chavez at the reunion. Rosie received a liver transplant just three days after Lita received her new liver.

As the reunion drew to a close Dr. Lita decided to do even more to draw focus to the need for more organ donors, especially from the Native American community. The Native American community has the lowest number of organ donors, while the need is high. There are many native people who may have refused to become an organ donor based upon cultural and religious reasons. However as native people all relate to the medicine wheel with the four colors on it, representing the people and cultures of the World, we are all one family.

To all Native people that Medicine wheel and more specific the pow wow circular arena represent the circle of life. To become an organ donor helps to keep the circle unbroken and the celebration of life. Dr. Lita Mathews encourages everyone to sign the back of their driver's license to become an organ donor, and for those interested in becoming a live organ donor to contact the Mayo Clinic (480) 342-1010, or your state organ donor services. Lita says that if it was not for the generosity of a great and wonderful individual who shared her liver with her, she may not be alive today.

 
 
October 6, 2010

Dr. Lita's Life Returns to Near Normal:

It has been over three months since the last entry.  Dr. Lita Mathews received her living donor transplant back on May 28, 2010. That wonderful and miraculous occasion took place over four months ago. Since returning to Albuquerque New Mexico  in late June, Lita has been hanging pretty close to home. She has shown constant improvement in her health. Dr. Lita has been regaining her strength each and everyday. Her new liver is doing very well and is also growing. It should be near full size in about two months. And the donor, Beverly Singer's liver has returned to full size.

About one month after returning home, Lita's weekly blood tests became slightly elevated in certain areas.

The Mayo Clinic asked Lita to return to Phoenix and the Mayo Clinic because their were issues that needed to be checked out. During the exams at the Mayo Clinic the issue of concern was a build up of scar tissue in the bile duct. This is a location inside the liver where Lita and her new liver are joined. This is a very common and expected issue with live liver recipients. An endoscopy procedure was performed to place a stint in the bile duct and open the ever growing scar tissue. During the healing period the scar tissue is known to develop.

A day after the endoscopic procedure was done, Derek & Lita returned home again to Albuquerque. For the next two months Lita Mathews continued on the road to recovery. Her daily routines were all slowly returning. Her exercise routines were also increasing, and all her vital daily and weekly exams continued to improve. During this time Dr. Lita was busy with several projects. She read three novels, served as a judge for the Native fashions competition at the Santa Fe Indian Market (SWIA), Attended the Taos Ski Valley music Festival, and the New Mexico State Fair. For a small lady who recently has undergone such major surgery, Lita's energy levels are high.

As the time moved forward toward Lita once again returning to the Mayo Clinic for the scheduled four month check up. And as the doctors and nurses at Mayo had told her, in four months she should have returned to her normal lifestyle and doing the things in her life that is normal. For Dr. Lita her goal was to return to the pow wow arena and dance in her buckskin dress. So with that in mind the timing was perfect. On Thursday September 23rd. Lita and her family, (Derek & Melonie) headed west to California for the Morongo Casino Pow Wow. It was at this event that Lita, for the first time since the transplant had put on her beaded buckskin dress. Upon arriving at the arena Lita was met with hellos and hugs from many people, dancers, singers and others. Lita then lined up with her dance category and danced into the arena during the grand entry. It was clear to all from the swaying of Lita's fringes on her dress, her feet dancing forward to the rhythm of the drum, and the smile on Lita's face that she was glad to be back. During the afternoon session she danced ten inter-tribal songs and then danced two songs in the competition. Lita was not competing however. After the dance contest was over and judging was complete, all of the ladies who had just danced swarmed around Lita. It was their way of welcoming her back into the arena. What a day for Lita!
 
The Morongo Pow Wow ended on Sunday afternoon. The next morning the Mathews family were on their way, east on I-10 to Phoenix and the mayo Clinic. On Tuesday Morning Lita began her scheduled four month medical check up. This was to be three days of exams and blood tests. On the fourth day a Mayo Clinic doctor once again performed an endoscopic procedure to remove the stint from the bile ducts located in the liver. An endoscopic procedure is done through the mouth, using a device with tools and a camera.  The device is carefully passed down through the throat and to the liver.
 
At the end of the exams Lita, Melonie and Derek Then met with the doctors. The doctors were very pleased to report that Lita is doing very well. Her Liver is healthy and so far there is no return of the "Menace" Hepatitis C. The bile duct was open and performing as it should.  Her recovery is on track.  As the three of them left the mayo Clinic, Lita was reminded to go home and return to her normal life. However back to normal Lita's daily life returns, it will be filled up with good music, pow wows, dancing and the Gathering of Nations. The family remains humble and continues to thank the many people who have sent good feelings, prayers and financial help. It has been all of that and much more that helped. 
 
THANK YOU!

 
 
June 27, 2010
Four Weeks Since the Transplant:
It has now been four weeks since Dr. Lita Mathews underwent surgery to receive the living donor liver transplant from Beverly Singer. In the process Lita received sixty percent, or the larger lobe of the liver. The transplant was a phenom in and on to itself. It was reported by Dr. Mulligan, the operating surgeon that as soon as the liver was placed into Lita, that it began working immediately. Since that time Dr. Lita's recovery has been remarkable. Within just a few hours after the surgery, the nursing staff at the Mayo Clinic had her up and beginning to walk. Each day, while remaining in the hospital her strength and movements rapidly returned.

Just a couple of days before being released from the Mayo Clinic Hospital, Lita received instructions from the occupational therapy department as to how to begin exercising and movements which would safely return her to complete and full strength. She also met with Jackie, the Transplant Coordinator. Jackie went over the new medications which Lita would be taking to prevent rejection and infections. It was amazing for Lita and her family to learn that after four months past the transplant, she would be taking very few medications... It was just a few minutes before leaving the hospital for the first time since the liver transplant that Lita, Derek and Melonie were escorted to a location in the hospital to take a look at Lita's old liver.

What they saw was a lesson in what liver disease looks like. The liver was presented on a tray. It had been sliced into sections to see the insides where the scarring was. The outside of the liver showed the bumpy surface which was the actual cirrhosis. Please keep in mind, Dr; Lita developed all of this problem from a bad blood transfusion over 30 years ago. However cirrhosis and liver disease can come from many other sources. That being abuse of alcohol, and drugs, along with tattoos and body piercing. It is the popularity of the tattoos and body piercing which is expected to increase the number of people with liver disease in the future.

Upon Immediate release from the hospital (just six days after transplant Lita and her family, Derek and Melonie took up a temporary residence adjacent to the Mayo Clinic campus Phoenix, where here out patient recovery program began. Lita returned to the hospital twice each week to visit with doctors to mark her progress. The schedule for the out patient doctor visits were through the second week of July. So with that as a framework for the first portion of the summer, Melonie has took charge of the disbursement schedule of the medications and nutritional diet requirements, while Derek made his focus her physical recovery. This included a daily exercise program and strength building.

On the morning of June 24th, Lita along with her family, entered the Mayo Clinic - Specialty Building for her bi-weekly exam. It began at 7:05 a.m. with the blood tests, the followed by meetings and examinations with the Post Liver Transplant Coordinator and two doctors. It was near the end of the morning exams with the second and final doctor, when she looked up at Lita mentioned to her that this was day 28 after the transplant and her recovery, with no complications was going so well, that they were releasing her to go home. This news was fantastic, and really too the family by surprise. On Saturday May 26th Dr. Lita Mathews and her family returned home to Albuquerque. Lita, while at home must continue the recovery program as it was developed while at the Mayo Clinic and get routine blood tests once each week. Over the next few days and weeks the number of medications that lit is required to take will be scaled back . After just a few months Lita's required daily required medication will be reduced to just one. Lita will return to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix four months from the date of the transplant for a check-up, and once per year there after.

To the contrary of some who have been heard to say that Dr. Lita Mathews has an incurable disease, the doctors and the transplant coordinators have informed the family that she is cured and is now healthy. This is not to say that there are not various health risks to be concerned with which are related to keeping her new liver safe and healthy. But most can be prevented. They have told Lita that within four to six months she should be able to resume the lifestyle she enjoys. That includes returning to the pow wow arena as an active and competitive Traditional Buckskin Dancer.

The success and progress of the living donor transplant for Dr. Lita Mathews must be attributed to the family-team approach, her spiritual faith, along with the traditional Native medicines and doctoring, and the wonders of modern western medicine. Due credit must go to the spiritual counseling from friends and the healing Powers and counseling from some very special people from Santa Clara and San Juan Pueblo, along with Albino Garcia (Jr.) and Leonard Crow Dog, for their traditional doctoring practices and counseling which gave the family the strength to make it through the ordeal. The medical team at the Mayo Clinic are the best in the World. It was there determination and confidence which made it happen. Dr. Mulligan, the surgeon who performed the transplant operation is a great man. His steady hands along with his operating room assistants and the great spirits watching and guiding his hands brought Lita and her family through this difficult time and have given her the ability to look forward to a longer and healthy life.

The greatest of all thanks goes to Dr. Beverly Singer, for the gracious gift of her liver to Lita.

The family continues to thank the thousands of people around the world for their prayers, get well wishes, and financial assistance. Dr. Lita Mathews recovery will be on going for several months to come and continues to need your prayers and financial help, as the hospital bills begin to arrive.

 
 
May 29, 2010
Dr. Lita Receives Liver Transplant:
(This single entry by Derek Mathews)
Yesterday, May 28, 2010  was a huge day for us. It began at 5:00 a.m. with a prayer ceremony just outside our hotel at the Mayo Clinic. Following that, we (Lita, her donor, Melonie, Me, and 3 other people) walked about a third of a mile to the doors of the Mayo Clinic Hospital. On the way there we stopped to observe and take in the blessing from a beautiful sunrise. The two of them checked in to the hospital at 5:30 am. They were then taken to be prepped for surgery. The donor was first into surgery. Her surgery began at 7:30 a.m. The donor liver was out, and they had begun to remove Lita's old liver at just a few minutes before 10:30 a.m. The next word came at about 11:06 a.m. that the donor liver had been placed into Lita and responded and was working right away. It was not until after 4:00 p.m. when the head surgeon came into the waiting room to tell us that the transplant was complete and all had all went very well. His final words as he left was this was a miracle.

Now the healing begins. Lita will remain in the hospital for about another week. Then she will return to stay with Melonie and me in the hotel just outside the doors of the Mayo Clinic. She will have to return to the hospital twice each week for outpatient visits for about four to five weeks.

Beverly Singer and Dr. Lita MathewsMay 28, 2010 will always be a special day in our lives. It is the day that Beverly Singer gave the ultimate gift to Dr. Lita Mathews. That being another chance at life. The doctors expect a complete recovery and she should be able to return to the lifestyle she loves with in the next few months. There will be a few bumps in the road ahead, but they are to be expected.

We just want to say thank you for all the prayers and assistance given from the tens of thousands of people who have shown their support from the beginning. All my relations.
Photo: Beverly Singer and Dr. Lita Mathews taken just moments before checking in at the Mayo Clinic to begin the living donor liver transplant)
 
 
May 4, 2010

Dr. Lita Mathews now scheduled for a Living Donor Liver Transplant:
Dr. Lita Mathews at the 2010 Gathering of Nations
It was in Friday April 23, at the start of the Gathering of Nations pow wow, when Derek Mathews received the phone call that the medical exams on the potential living donor had all gone well. To the delight of the family, Derek announced the good news to the pow wow audience at the start of the special women's stationary contest to honor Lita. The Audience was pleased with the news as well. Throughout the weekend many people, dancers and singers came forward to Lita, only to wish her the best and to tell her that they were praying for her.

On Friday evening, Chief Leonard Crow Dog prayed for Lita and he too blessed her, wishing her the best of health. He told her that she will come through it all in a good way. He told her that she will soon be back to good health and dancing again. Late on Saturday evening, before the close of the Gathering of Nations Pow wow, Julius Not Afraid called Lita into the arena and blew his whistle on the Midnite Express Drum to start a song. During the song he and other dancers surrounded Lita and continued to blow their whistles. At the end of the song, He told her of his love for her. He said that she has been a role model for him ever since he was a little boy. It was Lita who has inspired him to go to college to get a college education. He spoke of the fondness his family has for her. He also remembered the time when his grand father came to Albuquerque to bless the pow wow arena and to pray for the Mathews family. Terry Fiddler later spoke to the audience to express the words of Julius.

The Liver transplant is now schedule for Friday May 28th, at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix Arizona. Lita will the be in the hospital for about a week to ten days. Then she must remain in Phoenix for another six weeks or so for outpatient check-ups twice each week. Derek & Melonie will remain close to Lita throughout it all as they assist her with recovery.

The Mathews family is humbled by the many good wishes and the prayers of so many. They want to thank everyone for their kindness and thoughts. it is the strength and spiritual motivation necessary for them to get through it all.

Through the many years those who have known Dr. Lita and have been touched by her kindness and generosity, truly understand the type of person that she is. As Many of you know the cost of such and operation is very expensive. To assist with the financing of the transplant, and if you choose to help, this can be done by the purchase of her book and audio book, "A POW WOW SUMMER ACROSS NORTH AMERICA". They are available on the Gathering of Nations web site (please scroll down). All the proceeds from the sales will go into the account established to assist with expenses related to her hospital bills. No Money from the Gathering of Nations has been used to assist with her health expenses.

 
 
March 29, 2010
Dr. Lita returns to Mayo Clinic for a Check-Up:
Since returning home from the visit at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Dr. Lita has had her ups and downs. To begin to explain, we shall begin by telling you that the treatment which was done to stabilize the tumor on February 13th was a bit traumatic. The chemo medication  left Lita weak and throwing up for several days after. Because of her small body size and her body being unfamiliar with heavy drugs, the pain medications and anesthetics used during the minor surgery took over a week to wear off. However after a week at home, Lita rapidly began to return to her normal self and soon began to regain her strength. On or about March 5th, Lita noticed that her hair was beginning to fall out. This was a very tragic and traumatic experience for her. Her hair was the pride of her dad, who prior to his passing, several years ago, asked her to never cut her hair. And in his memory Dr. Lita had sponsored the long hair contest at the Gathering of Nations powwow. She has lost a lot of hair, but not all.

On March 12th, Derek and Lita headed West out of Albuquerque to attend the powwow at Cal State Long Beach University. The weekend in the open California air was good for the two of them. The people attending the powwow were very happy to see Lita. There were smiles and hugs from many. As it has been evident through out this difficult period, the sounds of the drums and the well wishes from the people have proven to be an instant soul healing for Lita. This weekend Lita Mathews dressed out in her traditional clothing and participated in the powwow. Over the two days of the powwow she danced several intertribals, and even competed in the contest. To her surprise and delight she got third place. This was only the second time that Lita had danced in the past two years. It was at Cal State Long Beach, two years ago, Dr. Lita was awarded with first place in the Women's Northern Traditional category. Just three weeks after that event, she was hospitalized with the bleeding internally which was the first discovery of her health condition related to the Hepatitis C. Also at the powwow Lita's friend Luisa Blue Eyes had a special honor song for her. Nearly all the people came out to shake her hand, hug her, and dance with her. What a way to end a great weekend.

The next day Derek and Lita pointed their big black truck East and headed to Phoenix, Arizona, where she had a scheduled two day appointment at the Mayo Clinic. The purpose of this appointment was to examine her and to check the procedure done one month ago to stabilize the tumor in her liver. At the end of the second day at the mayo Clinic, Dr. Douglas told Lita that the stabilization procedure was a success and the tumor was not growing. He also told them that one of the candidates who had offered to become a living liver donor for Lita had passed the preliminary tests and they were ready to move her forward and bring her to the Mayo Clinic for the complete battery of medical exams and prepare (hopefully) for the liver transplant. The candidate has now been scheduled to begin the exams on Monday April 19th. That is the week leading into the Gathering of Nations PowWow. How coincidental that it will be that week, exactly two years since Lita's health journey began.

The Special honor contest for Dr. Lita Mathews at the Gathering of Nations for Women's Stationary dancers will be very special. The healing power of the songs and dance will be very positive as the family prepare for the major portion of healing Lita and returning her to good health. They hope that all of you will come to Albuquerque for the PowWow and to wish Lita well. If all goes well with the exams for the donor, they hope to schedule the Liver transplant for Mid May at the Mayo Clinic.

 
 
February 28, 2010 February 28, 2010
Dr. Lita Travels to the Mayo Clinic:
On Monday February 8th, at 8:00 a.m., Dr. Lita and her family traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix Arizona for her to begin the grueling week-long medical evaluation for her to become a liver transplant candidate. Her evaluation began with blood tests followed by numerous medical exams and consultations with various doctors. There were various body scans, mammograms, bone density tests, psychological exams, and more blood tests.
The five days of exams proved that Lita Mathews was in good health, other than she had a tumor in her liver and the bad news that the Hepatitis C virus had returned. The viral count was even higher than detected when she began the Hep C treatment in October of 2008. However the doctors at the Mayo Clinic did not believe that the Hep C would prevent the liver transplant. And since the Hep C had taken more than 25 or 30 years to create the critical situation she was in, in April 2008, with dietary and lifestyle precautions she could expect to live an improved and significant length of life. This was somewhat consoling to the family, while at the same time one more disheartening blow. The fact that Dr. Lita had successfully completed one of the most grueling chemotherapy treatments known. Her doctor and caretaker back in Albuquerque were also devastated by the news. However, at the start it was known that the Hep C treatment was not a sure cure, but the odds of returning would be very low.

So Lita, Melonie, and Derek left the Mayo Clinic for the weekend to digest the news. On Saturday, February 13th, they traveled across Phoenix to attend the annual Hoop Dance Contest. Upon arrival, hearing the drums immediately was soothing to their weary mental state. Talking with Dennis Bowen the announcer and others, the day in the warm Phoenix sun slowly raised their spirits and helped to move their minds temporarily away from the issue. On Sunday they spent the day at the Phoenix zoo. At the zoo they spent the day walking and enjoying the sights and focusing on the caged animals. A large portion of their discussions were considering how the lives of the animals might have been if they were free of the limited environment. The Mathews as a family possess a free spirit. If it was not for that they perhaps could not survive the many ups and downs that Lita's health challenges have presented.

At the end of the day, Dr. Lita and her family left the zoo and headed to a New Mexican style restaurant (Arriba's) in Phoenix. Just before they got out of their black Chevy truck, Dr. Lita's cell phone rang. On the other end was a dear friend of Lita's. She was attending a powwow in Southern California. Patricia Lopez was very aware of the devastating news about the return of the Hep C and the need for a liver transplant. Arlie Neskahi, who along with his dad wrote the Gathering of Nations Song in 1986, was the announcer for the powwow. Patricia had talked to Arlie about Lita, and he decided to give her a call during the powwow and to do his part to lift her spirits and to send all the blessings to her and the family that he could. Arlie talked to Lita and then sang the Gathering of Nations Song and his father's song. The songs were composed and sung in the Navajo language. For Lita, Melonie, and Derek this was a very special moment. It was the spirit and strength builder for them that they needed, as they were preparing for what was to take place back at the Mayo Clinic the very next day. At the end of the songs, Lita had the opportunity to speak to thank Arlie Neskahi and Patricia Lopez for this special moment. She also thanked the audience, who during the song stood in silence.

On Monday Morning, February 15th, at 6:00 a.m. Lita was admitted to the hospital at the Mayo Clinic to undergo chemotherapy treatment to stabilize and shrink the tumor in her liver. The treatment was said by the doctors and medical staff to have gone very well. However she had to remain overnight in the hospital to recover and to sleep of the heavy sedation and medications for pain. On Tuesday afternoon she was released from the Mayo Clinic to begin her journey home. The treatment to stabilize the tumor allows time for the results from the week-long examination to be compiled, and for the Mayo Clinic transplant team to consider if she will be a good candidate for the live liver transplant. At the time of this report, the results are pending. If she is considered for the live donor transplant, it is expected to take place shortly after the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, April 23 & 24, 2010. This gives the time needed to bring forward the three potential donors who have a blood type match with Dr. Lita. Each of them will have to undergo a medical evaluation, similar the one Lita went through. If all goes well and the transplant from a living donor will take place, Lita will get another and deserved chance at life. If the candidates for the live donor transplant do not work out, she will the be on the waiting list for a cadaver donor.

It has been a long road for Lita Mathews and her family, but their determination and strength is founded on their focus as champions and the many prayers, ceremonies, and well wishes from people around the world. The Mathews family invites and hopes to see all who read this blog and others at the Gathering of Nations Pow wow, to publicly thank all of them. Without their help this battle may have not been able to be fought.

 
 
February 18, 2010
Mayo Clinic calls the Mathews Family, Dr. Lita Mathews approved for Liver Transplant:
This morning the Mayo Clinic called the Mathews family with the good news that Dr. Lita Mathews has been approved for the transplant. They now have recommended that all of her potential donors call the Mayo Clinic to begin the screening process. If all goes well with her donors, the transplant could take place in earl May. If there are any others with the O+ blood type who would like to be considered to become here liver transplant donor, please email to getwelldrlita@gatheringofnations.com  as soon as possible.
 
 
January 17, 2010

Dr. Lita Mathews Takes On Another Medical Challenge:

As a standard procedure at the conclusion of the treatment for Hep C, internal exams are performed. On December 29th an MRI was done. The results were given to the family on Friday January 8th. The results of the MRI showed that Lita's liver had developed a small cancer. Similar exams were done every 6 months through the treatment period. All the other previous tests showed that Lita remained cancer free. This cancer developed sometime since the June 2009 exam. At the start of the treatment for Hep C, Lita was told that there was a three percent chance of cancer developing within the liver.

The recommendation now is for Lita to receive a liver transplant. Derek and Melonie have already begun the process for the University of New Mexico Hospital to make the referral for Lita to go to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale Arizona to get it all started. The first step is for her to receive an evaluation to determine the severity of the cancer and to begin preparations for the transplant.

Currently nationwide, there are approximately six thousand people on the waiting list for liver transplants. However if she can get a family match that would be the ideal. Last weekend a family meeting with Dr. Lita's family was called to let them all know what is going on. Lita's youngest sister and two nieces immediately offered to be considered as donors.

Since that family meeting, as word of this news about Lita began to spread throughout the country, several people have also said that they would be willing to be considered as donors. If a living match can be found, the liver transplant could possibly happen in late February or Early March. During the transplant surgery, the donor will give Lita half of their liver. The liver in both Lita and the donor will grow back to full size and healthy.

There are 2 positives here however. The Hep C seems to be gone. However the doctors will check again in 6 months. The other positive is with a new liver, Lita should be completely done with this medical issue. Since the Hep C treatment ended on December 1st, Lita has been getting stronger every day and it has been very noticeable. Doctor Arora told her that until the match is found and the transplant is done, she must continue exercising, doing the things that she likes to do, and make her body as strong and healthy as possible.

Should any one choose to be considered as a living donor for Dr. Lita, please leave an e mail message at: getwelldrlita @ gatheringofnations.com (no spaces in the email address). In the email please include name, address, age, phone number and blood type. Individuals choosing to become a donor should be between 18 and 55 years of age, and in good health.

Dr. Lita wants everyone to know that she and her family are so thankful of all those who have sent prayers and good thoughts to her. Once again it will be very helpful for her and the family to receive those words of encouragement from those who care. She believes in the power of prayer and spiritual energy. She also believes that the songs from the big drums and the powwow people in the arena will be helpful to her. She continues to look forward to returning to the arena to dance. Her own spirit is there and she wants to again wear her dresses and dance with her friends.

The special contest for Women's' Traditional - Stationary style dancing is still planned for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in April. Lita's wants it to be known that all women who dance the stationary style are invited to participate. It means a lot to her and her family for everyone to be there and participate. The Gathering of Nations Web Site will make additional entries to this blog when there is significant information to be shared.

If you have blood type "O" (negative or positive) and are interested in donating a liver or if you would like to send a get well message to Dr. Lita, please email getwelldrlita @ gatheringofnations.com. (no spaces in the email address). Your generous liver donation will save Lita's life.

 
 
December 5, 2009
Dr. Lita Mathews completes treatment for Hep C, Dr. Arora:
It was Tuesday December 1st, the day Dr. Lita Mathews received her last treatment for the recovery from the Hepatitis C virus. The treatment length of time was fifteen months of intense and chemo-like therapeutic treatments. However through it all Lita handled it very well. She and her family were determined to attack the virus both from a medical and a spiritual approach. It is believed that the combination of the two resulted in the success of reducing the virus to non-detectable levels and the healing of her damaged liver.

The last month however was a challenge as the anxiety towards the end grew near. During this time Dr. Arora increased the dosage of the medication. This was to finish off the virus. With this would be the expectations of greater and additional side effects. However Dr. Lita did not feel too much of the wrath of side effects. There was an increased head & body aches the day after her injections were given. Throughout the treatment her spirit and energy levels remained strong.

Even though the treatments have ended, there remains the months ahead to now recover and re-gain her strength. Lita was told that the medication will take about five to six months to completely be eliminated from her body. Over the next few weeks she will begin a calculated exercise program. Her intention is to return to dancing in about three months. Dr. Arora has asked her to return to the University of New Mexico Hospital Clinic in six months for a follow up visit.

Also during this recovery period, Dr. Lita will return to her position, working hard to publish the 2010 Gathering of Nations Program Book, and preparing for her annual book give. The 2010 Gathering of Nations is very special for her. It was just days before the start of the 2008 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow when she was hospitalized with ruptured veins in her throat. It was at that time that prayers and miracles saved her life. The timing to the emergency room was critical. Then after the bleeding had been stopped, the family was informed that most people who suffer in this way seldom recover and die within six weeks. Lita proved them wrong. The veins not only were healed, the doctor reported that they were gone.

The rest is written about back throughout the many weeks of this blog. Out of the humbleness of Lita and her family, she has chosen to honor all the dancers whom dance her style of dancing, Women's Stationary. There will be a contest at the 2010 Gathering of Nations Pow wow for this style of dancing.

Over the many years of dancing, she has been a champion many times. She has made many friends and believes that the give away is a humble way to return to the arena. Once again she has become a champion, defeating Hep C. The women's Stationary Contest will feature $2,000.00 first place and a vacation for two. Dr. Lita Mathews used her illness to bring focus to the viral disease of Hepatitis C among Native people. It is a silent killer which many Natives and others carry. She is the story of hope and faith that it can be over-come.

Dr. Lita is excited about the contest and the 2010 Gathering of Nations Pow wow. She hopes to see all Native women who dance this style in the contest. This entry closes Dr. Lita's blog. Lita, Melonie & Derek invite everyone to the 2010 Gathering of Nations Pow wow!. They once again wish to thank everyone for their prayers, well wishes and concern. Without it her recovery could not have been possible.
 
 
October 9, 2009

New Mexico Hep C Alliance Conference:

Well as the time winds down on Lita's treatment for Hepatitis C, she continues to do remarkably well. Let it be clearly understood that the treatment regiment is extreme. As matter of fact there are so many people who for one reason or another cannot complete the treatment program. The injections of medication along with all of the other pills and weekly blood tests that are required to get through it are intense. And through it all Dr. Lita has become a model patient. Her determination to get through it has been remarkable.

A couple of weeks ago Lita along with her doctor were invited to speak at the New Mexico Hep C Alliance conference. Lita, Melonie and Derek discussed with the group assembled, her history of Hep C and how she has been getting through the treatment. And how she and the family have worked as a team throughout the treatment program. As a family there support has truly been there. It has been the attention of all three of them to see that Lita gets through it. Her diet, exercise, rest, blood test, etc have all been the daily and weekly tasks. When Lita's Doctor, Dr. Arora spoke, he acknowledged her as a remarkable individual. He then also mentioned the great experience he had at the 2009 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.

It was his first, and he hopes to be there again in 2010. Dr. Arora is an international leading physician in the field of Hepatitis C. How lucky for Lita that his home is Albuquerque and University of New Mexico Hospital is his base. Since treatment began for Lita, she has made it her cause bring a focus on the treatment of Hep C. Dr. Arora was extremely happy to be able to reach Native people and so many others through the Gathering of Nations and it's network.

One of the few trips that the Mathews have made this summer was to Morongo, a couple of weeks ago. It was overwhelming how the dancers and drums acknowledged Lita with hugs and smiles. Not only can it be said that there is healing in the songs and the dances, but in the hugs and smiles as well. It also demonstrated that the people in the arena, are as one family.

The fall season of 2009 has arrived. Dr. Lita Mathews has just 6 1/2 weeks to the completion of treatment for Hep C. The road has been long, but the finish line is now in sight. When the treatment ends on December 1st there will be several weeks/months of recovery and strengthening. She looks forward to seeing everyone at the 'Gathering', and return to dancing by the late spring and next summer.

 
 
September 3, 2009

3 months remaining of Hep C treatments, powwow arena provides healing:

The long awaited fall season has arrived. With the start of September, Dr. Lita has just three months remaining in her medical treatment for the Hepatitis C virus. Everyone, doctors and nurses included, are astonished at how well she has handled it all. The doctor has increased the treatment dosage to improve the odds that the virus will never return. At the same time the doctor has prescribed another medication to boost her white blood cells and improve the quality of her immune system.

 Lita was told that with the increase in medication there could be added side effects of headaches, aches in the bones, and the possibility of a reduction in red blood cells. When the increased treatment dosage and the second injection was first given, Lita did experience some of the headaches, stomach aches, and body pains. However due to the active life she has been accustomed to, Derek has been able to get her out a few mornings each week at sunrise for about a one mile walk. The doctor recommended for her to continue with moderate exercise, and it has aided to ease the pains. And to keep her red blood cell count high, Derek has increased her diet to include large portions of fresh berries and dark green vegetables. This too has proven to work.

Dr. Lita's last blood test showed that her white blood cells were nearing normal, and the red cell count was normal. Normal blood cell counts will help Lita to ward off the threats of H1N1 flu and other virus. The stomach aches were eliminated with a cold cup of ginger ale. Ginger is an excellent a natural remedy for nausea and upset stomach discomfort. The family continues to live on the faith and belief that the traditional ways and the well wishes of many have been a major factor in how well she has done so far.

Dr. Lita Mathews is committed to her beliefs about the healing which the powwow arena, with it's songs and sights of the dancers also serve in the healing process. A few weeks ago, Melonie danced to aid in Lita's spiritual healing at the Feast Day celebration in Santa Clara Pueblo. That was a great day for Lita and her family. The Mathews family are excited about their involvement in the Pow Wow at the New Mexico State fair, later this month in Albuquerque, and her return to dancing next spring.

 
 
August 1, 2009
Counting down the weeks to the end of treatments:
It is now mid-summer, August 1st and Dr. Lita Mathews is counting down the weeks to the end of the treatments. The last day of the treatments will be December 1. At this point in the treatments, the doctor and his staff remain very impressed with how well she has handled this tough ordeal.

Lita's weekly blood tests continue to show improvement and the liver is healing. Her diet and weight is important to keeping her healthy as she moves through the later weeks. Derek has really been focusing in on the proper and healthy type of foods for Lita's diet. The doctor recommend to minimize red meats, while eating high levels of protein rich foods. Fruit, melons, and dark green veggies are the best.

With the looming deadly Swine Flue Virus closing in, The doctor has recommended and is now giving Lita another weekly injection. This medication is to boost her immune system so that she can resist infections and the flu. Because of the new medication and it's added side effects, Derek, Lita, & Melonie have had to modify their travel through the remainder of the summer. Lita tires easily in the extreme heat and exhaustion could become the catalyst to lowering her immune levels and thus she could become very sick. It has been an interesting summer for them all. It is also expected that when the Swine Flue vaccine becomes available, she will be at the head of the line to receive it.

As the fall approaches they will have to make sure that Lita avoids crowds, sick people, hand shakes and hugs. When the treatments conclude in December, Dr. Lita will have several months of recovery. It is expected that by the 2010 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in April, she will be near to full strength. She will be ready to go and excited about her return to the arena to dance. Her women's Buckskin - Stationary special contest will make the way for her re-entry. 1st place in the contest will be $2,000.00 along with other prizes. The contest is presented as a thank you to the many people throughout this time who have sent their prayers and get well wishes.

In particular Lita wants to say thank you to the many traditional dancers who have been there for her with words of encouragement. Even more, this has become the way Lita and Derek have chosen to place focus on this very deadly disease, Hepatitis C. It is a silent killer and is believed that many Native people may have Hep C and either are living with it silently and not seeking treatment, or do not even know that they have it.
 
 
June 19, 2009

Treatment is working:

Since the Gathering, Dr. Lita Mathews has continued her treatment for Hepatitis C. It was believed that the stress from the Gathering had little effect on her condition. However, in a blood test taken 3 weeks after the Gathering, results showed some increased levels in the concerns for her liver recovery. This may have been brought on by the excessive headache that she had which lasted for several days. After a correction to her diet with increased vegetables and fruits along with yogurt, the next 2 blood tests were much improved and actually showed near normal levels.

Her most current exams have shown that the treatment is working. The medical team at UNMH are very impressed with how well she is handling it all. Dr. Lita and her family have been extremely careful as to not allow her to become fatigued, because this could effect her immune system. The tests on her white blood cells has remained at a constant (.6) even though this is a bit low for a normal person, this level is expected for a patient receiving treatment for Hep C. The medical staff at the University of New Mexico Hospital have not yet prescribed any medication to raise the white blood cell levels.

Dr. Lita, Derek, and Melonie will be on the road this summer attending powwow s and other functions. Her energy levels are not yet high enough to dance competitively, however she feels that the sound of the drums and being around friends is another part of her healing. The treatments will come to an end on December 1st. At that time, as her strength returns, she will begin an active exercise and training program to get her ready for a full summer of dancing in 2010.

Dr. Lita Mathews wishes everyone a great summer on the powwow trail and hopes to see many of you out there.

 
 
May 5, 2009

Cleared for the 2009 Gathering of Nations PowWow:

Dr. Lita continues to do well while undergoing the treatment for Hep C. Her doctors cleared her to attend the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, provided she did not get overly stressed or do any work. Her energy level is limited, so Derek provided a golf cart for her to get up and down the steep ramp at the bottom of the Pit. He also had a small motor home parked behind Stage 49 so that she would have a place to rest during the long hours of the pow wow. It was difficult for her to just sit and watch but she did and really enjoyed watching the dance and hearing the sounds of the most awesome drum groups in Indian Country. The people who stopped by the announcer stand to greet her really filled her heart with joy.

As most of you know the Gathering of Nations Pow wow is the life's work of the Mathews family. They are extremely happy to know that so many people enjoy the work that they do. Dr. Lita while being limited by the amount of physical work that she could do this year, worked with Rusty Gillette to produce the fantastic program book. She also provided needed encouragement to Melonie and Derek to stay strong and to make the Pow wow and the Miss Indian World Pageant the best possible.

Dr. Lita has been cleared by her doctors to do limited travel this summer, provided her health and immune system stay at a safe level. So, you will see the Mathews' on the Pow wow trail from time to time throughout the summer. Lita will not be dancing competitively until her treatment for Hepatitis C is complete at the end of December. Next year at the Gathering, she will host and sponsor a special contest for Women's Buckskin - Stationary style dancing. The contest will offer fantastic prize money and other prizes. All of the information will be on the 2010 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow poster.

Once again Dr. Lita and her family are so grateful to all who have sent their prayers and well wishes for her recovery. It assisted her in getting through the most difficult of chemotherapy treatments. She is humbled by it all and will never forget it.

 
 
March 23, 2009
6 months of treatments for Hep C Completed:
Dr. Lita has now completed six months of treatment for Hep C. From all who have attempted or is familiar with the treatment, have been impressed with how well she has been doing. To date the side effects continue to be minimal. Current blood test have shown that there are improvements in all areas. The virus has been reduced to below the negative level and remains so. Her liver is showing much improvement and function.
The family truly believes that the Native medicine and all it's procedures, along with the many prayers and well wishes from so many people have contributed to her success thus far. Derek and Melonie believe that the spirits have been her guardians and have transferred many of the side effects to them. They have experienced many of the side effects which are typical of the Hep C treatment, such as body aches and all the flue like symptoms. However they both have expressed that it is worth it in order to get Dr. Lita through it successfully. The family want to express extreme gratitude to "Jr" Albeno Garcia lll for all that he has done spiritually to heal Lita's liver and to rid the virus from her body. And also to Luci Yates, the nurse at the University of New Mexico Hospital who has been giving her the weekly injections. Lucy has become a family friend and councilor.

Dr. Lita wants to encourage all who attend the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow to stop by the UNM Hep C booth in the tent to learn more about this disease. Those who have tattoos on their bodies are at a higher risk of contracting Hepatitis C. She invites everyone who reads this to please come to the 2009 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. She believes that the Gathering is also part of her recovery, and everyone who attends plays an important part.
 
 
February 20, 2009
Back at the GON Office:
Dr. Lita is doing very well. Now over four months into the treatment for Hep C, she continues to experience few and not too severe side effects. The head and body aches seem to be the primary side effects.

She has been working everyday at her desk in the Gathering of Nations office, working on the 2009 program book. Each year the Gathering of Nations Program book is published with her guidance and supervision.

Lita is looking forward to this year's Pow Wow as it marks one year since being hospitalized. It will be a corner turned as she looks forward to recovery and returning to the arena as a traditional dancer.

When at the Gathering of Nations, be sure to visit the University of New Mexico Hospital HEP C booth in the tent at the south end.
 
 
January 17, 2009

Songs and Dancers, help her spirit and enhance healing process:

Dr. Lita received some great news on New Year's Eve. The University of New Mexico Hospital called her to inform her that the most recent blood test which she had taken about a week earlier showed that she was now Hep C free. This means the Hepatitis viral count was now negative. Lita danced around the room is pure joy. However this does not mean that the treatments will end.

There is still a lot of work to be done to make sure that the hepatitis does not return and that her liver continues to heal. As of now, the treatments will come to an end in early December 2009. Until then she must limit her activities and being among indoor crowds, as the risk of infection and colds remains high. She looks forward the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow and realizes that she must limit her activities at that time but feels as though the songs and the dances will help her spirit and to enhance the healing process.

Derek & Melonie hope that all of you will come to Albuquerque in April for the Gathering of Nations to enjoy the event and to show support and encouragement for her recovery.

 
 
December 21, 2008

11 weeks, viral count:

For the past 11 weeks, Dr. Lita Mathews has been receiving treatment for the Hepatitis C Virus. She's responding exceptionally well to the treatment. Lita has been experiencing a few side-effects, such as diarrhea and mild exhaustion. The treatment has thinned her hair a little, but has not experienced any baldness as she was warned that one of the side-effects of the treatment can cause thinning hair. Dr. Mathews has been able to continue working and living normally with the exception of extensive travel.

Unfortunately, Lita is unable to be in large crowds or in any environment where the possibility of her catching a cold is likely due to the fact that her immune system is weakened from the medication that treats the Hep C virus. She will continue treatment and will be tested in the next couple weeks to find out the viral count. Her last viral count showed a significant drop in the amount of virus in her body and her doctors are confident that she will be viral-free upon the results of the next test. Once she is considered viral-free, she will remain on treatment for one year, to ensure the complete eradication of the Hepatitis C Virus.

With Christmas a few days away, she wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and is very thankful for all of the prayers and positive thoughts that she has received.

 
 
November 11, 2008

Over 6 weeks of treatment, few side effects:

Dr. Lita is now over six weeks into this extensive treatment to heal her body of the Hepatitis C virus. On November 4th Lita had another blood test. This particular blood test measured the viral count of the Hepatitis C. The results were read and reported back to Lita on Friday November 7th. The results of the first month's treatment were very good. The treatments are working! Dr, Lita's viral count prior to the start of the treatments was at 1,900,000 parts per million. The current blood test showed the viral count at only 348 parts per million. This is very good results as it showed that her body has responded positively to the treatment.

The goal is to reduce the viral count to zero parts per million. The doctors believe that a zero parts per million count is coming very soon. Even though the viral count is lowering rapidly and expected to be reduced to zero parts per million very soon, the treatments have been extended for an additional nine weeks. This extension is to ensure that the Hepatitis virus is gone and Lita is cured. The blood test also have shown an improvement in liver function.

Overall Dr. Lita is handling the treatments very well with few side effects so far. On few occasions she has had some body and head aches. She also has tired easily as well. Upon looking at her, she looks like she is in the best of health. She has not lost weight or had any other visible effects of the treatment. At her last meeting with the doctor they told her they were very pleased with her progress but warned of the risk of potential infections and colds. This is due to the treatments are lowering her white blood cells. This is normal and to be expected. The doctor told her that if the white blood cells drop too low she will then receive another medication to help bring the cell count back up to an acceptable and safe level. It is the white blood cells which help the body to fight infection. This is one of the many reasons why through this time Lita must avoid being in crowds and to avoid sick people.

Dr. Lita, Melonie and Derek have the confidence of the Medical team at UNM. Their attention to Lita has been comforting. Dr. Ahora is world famous in this field of medicine. Once again the family wishes to thank everyone for their concern and prayers. They feel that they have helped to make this difficult time bearable. She is looking forward to getting back to dancing sometime late next summer. She enjoys dancing and it is her personal passion.

 
 
October 22, 2008
Beginning treatments (Pegasys and Copegus):
Lita began the medical treatments to fight and rid the Hepatitis C from her body. The days of waiting and preparation to begin the treatments were long and tense. Prior to starting the treatment she was given a pneumonia shot as well as the current flu shot. As she was told these are precautionary measures as the treatment will attack the white blood cells as it fights the virus. This leaves her vulnerable to catching colds and the flu.

The treatment consist of two medications. The first is called Pegasys (Interferon)
This medication is intended to reduce the amount of Hepatitis C in the body. One injection weekly is required. The second medication is called Copegus (Ribavirin). This medication is taken every day in pill form. It's job is to stop the Hepatitis C virus from spreading or multiplying. Together Pegasys and Copegus help get rid of the infected cells and keep healthy cells from becoming infected. Thus allowing the liver to begin repair.

Since Dr. Lita began the treatments, three weeks ago, she has had only minor side effects to the medication. Her most recent blood tests indicated that the treatments are going well. They even showed that there was some improvement in her liver function. The Mathews family was very pleased with the results of the test, while realizing that Lita still has a long way to recovery. The total time of the treatments is 48 weeks. During that time her travel will remain near non existent.

Spiritually Dr. Lita is doing real well. She and her family have also have gone to the Sun-dance in Ft Hall this past summer. And just a couple of weeks ago a sweat and Lakota style tobacco ceremony was held, in Albuquerque, in her honor. It was requested and sponsored by Becky Taylor of Hayward, Wisconsin. Many friends and family were in attendance.

The Family thanks Becky along with all the people who continue to pray for her recovery. They are so deeply humbled.
 
 
September 27, 2008

Sweats, prayers and ceremonies for Lita:

The weekend of September 5, 6, & 7 Dr. Lita fulfilled her commitment to the Sycuan Tribe of California by attending the pow wow and serving as their Northern Head Lady Dancer. On Saturday afternoon Lita had her honoring dance and give-away. Derek spoke on her behalf to the people. He began by telling them about how this was the biggest moment of her summer, as she was determined to be well enough and strong enough to make the trip. He went on to explain to the people about he illness and the road of recovery ahead. The people came out in mass to hug her, shake her hand and to pray for her. It was a very moving time as the drum group, The Boyz honored her by singing the Gathering of Nations Song.

Rick Yazzie, a fancy dancer along with others mentioned that when they returned home they would be sponsoring sweats and other ceremonies to pray for her. Rick place on of the Get Well Dr. Lita Mathews wrist bands on his out fit and told her that he would be dancing for her each weekend until she was cured of the hepatitis C and liver disease. He told her that his family and the Mathews family were as close as one family, and how important it is for her to get well and return healthy to the pow wow arena.

Later on Saturday another man came forward to tell her about his encounter with hepatitis C and liver disease. He said that he had gone through the treatments two years ago and was now completely healed. He want on to say that the scaring of his liver and the liver disease was completely gone. The Mathews family was extremely pleased with this as it was all positive concerning Lita's road to recovery.

In just a few days Lita will begin the treatments to begin fighting the Hepatitis C. The length of the treatments will be form eight to forty-eight weeks. It is also expected to have several side effects, such as itching, lack of appetite, lowered immune system and depression. It has been said that not everyone experiences all or any of theses side effects.

Currently all of Dr. Lita's medical exams have been good and have shown positive signs that she will make it through the treatments successfully. Lita continues to thank everyone for all of the get well wishes and prayers. She truly believes that the pow wow people are all members are a unique group and comprise a huge extended family.

 
 
August 2, 2008
Long and Rough Road to Recovery:
Dr. Lita is doing exceptionally well. She and her family would like to thank the many well-wishers for their concern and prayers. Even though she is doing better at this time, there remains a long and what could be a rough road to recovery.

Since being released form the hospital on April 24th, Lita has had numerous checkups consisting of blood tests and a CT scan. At each examination, Dr. Lita has shown a near miraculous recovery. It has been through these many exams that it has been determined by medical staffs at both Presbyterian Hospital and The University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque that her recovery treatments will begin in mid-September and are expected to last about a year. The treatment will be administered by the UNMH staff and supervised by one of the Worlds leading physicians in the field.

At Dr. Lita's last medical exam, she was told that she could begin to travel again and prepare to dance, if she chose to. The next day after that exam, Lita and Derek traveled to Fort Hall, Idaho to attend the Sundance. It was there that Dr. Lita was taken into the circle to receive a special blessing from the sun dancers. Roseann Abrahamson and her family hosted the Mathews. Roseann not only made way for Dr. Lita to receive this blessing, but she included her in many of the family activities outside and away from the arbor. These activities included the gathering of many of the natural elements and plant life which the dancers needed to sustain themselves. For Lita this brought back memories of when she was a young girl and assisted her grandmother who used many natural plants for medicinal and spiritual purposes throughout Northern New Mexico. Lita is very grateful for the opportunity to have attended. The power of the prayers and the blessing will assist to give her the strength and courage to go forward.

Until the treatments begin, Dr. Lita, Derek, and Melonie will be on the powwow trail attending powwows. Lita hopes to dance and is the Head Lady Dancer the second weekend in September at the Sycuan Pow wow. She is hoping that many of you can attend. When the treatments begin, her travels will nearly stop for that time. However the doctors believe that after the treatments are completed, Lita will once again be strong and healthy.
 
 
April 22, 2008

Dr. Lita Mathews at home recovering - 1st Blog Entry:

On the Morning of April 22nd, just three days before the start of the 25th annual Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, Dr. Lita Mathews was rushed to an Albuquerque hospital suffering from bleeding ulcers. It was to her amazement and graciousness of a higher spirit that the people at the hospital, in the emergency room knew her and were able to get her immediate attention needed to save her life. Dr. Lita. A co-producer of the Gathering of Nations with her husband Derek and daughter Melonie, is at home recovering. She has a long road to go and needs your help and get well wishes.

The bleeding ulcers were the result of a blood transfusion which she was given more than 30 years ago. The blood transfusion was tainted. The tainted blood affected her liver in ways which now make it difficult for her blood to clot properly. When admitted to the hospital she was near death. Her blood was at zero percent oxygen and they had to give her several units of blood. Her body responded to the attention and medication. The doctors were amazed at her great physical condition. This was a direct result of her daily exercise program and her competitive dancing at many Pow Wows throughout the year.

The doctors released her from the hospital a couple of days early in order for her to attend the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. They knew that this was where her spirit would receive nourishment. However, it was advised that she not do any work at the pow wow. Since the end of the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow many people have sent along their get well wishes. When first released from the hospital the doctors instructed her to limit travel, and dancing was out of the question. Since that time several of her exams have shown enough improvement that when she regains full strength, she may begin limited travel and dancing.

Dr. Lita is hopeful to return to the pow wow trail in late July. She has been invited to serve as the Head Lady Dancer for the Sycuan Pow Wow in September. Dr. Lita says that she is determined to hold her promise to the Sycuan people and be there in September as their head lady Dancer. The Sycuan Reservation Resort and Casino is located just a few miles East of San Diego. Dr. Lita would like to encourage everyone to join her there.

The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow for Lita and her family is their life's work. The joy of bringing smiles, cultural pride and opportunity to Native people is what excites her. She has been involved in the educational components of the Gathering of Nations as well as making recommendations and sponsorship of the many acts of kindness the Gathering of Nations has been able to deliver. Lita's involvement in the Pow Wow world is critical. She has a smile for nearly everyone in the arena all of the time.

Dr. Lita Mathews received her PhD from the University of New Mexico in 1999. Since that time she has used her degree and efforts to bring a cultural and educational focus upon Native Americans. She has been an inspiration and role model to many who have chosen to pursue higher education. Jennifer Young Bear is the first recipient of the Dr. Lita Mathews Graduate Scholarship at the University of New Mexico. She is very proud of Jennifer who is now one semester from graduation and is maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. Jennifer Young Bear is a Jingle Dress dancer from New Town, North Dakota.

The expenses related to her recovery are very high. At this time she asks that if anyone would like to assist with the cost of her recovery to please purchase either her book (A Powwow Summer Across North America) or the audio book of the same title.

The Doctors continue to evaluate Lita to see if she is a candidate for treatment. There are many factors to be considered before such an evasive treatment is begun. If and when the treatments begin they will last for approximately one year.

We thank everyone for the many get well wishes and concern. This is the most difficult time in not only Lita's life but for Derek and Melonie as well. While at home in Albuquerque, we will continue to make plans for the 2009 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We are looking forward to seeing all of you then.

 
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