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Love of Clydesdales Leads One Woman to Life-Saving Diagnosis and Legacy Gift

November 19, 2010

When Cari Goss was a little girl, she loved the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales, and when she reached adulthood she was delighted to realize she could actually own Clydesdales herself. She never knew that this love would inadvertently save her life 20 years down the road.

“I call them my miracle horses,” says Cari. “I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to own them because in the end they are what led me to Barnes-Jewish Hospital.”

During the fall of 2006, Cari began feeling sick. For the first month she thought she had the stomach flu. But the pain continued and worsened, stopping for a period of time before returning again full-force.

“One blood test I had showed elevated liver counts,” says Cari, “but other than that, we still had no idea what was wrong. I was stuck.”

By the spring of 2007, Cari was having constant, severe pain and losing a pound a day. “That’s when my friend at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis called to see if I was ready to come get my second Clydesdale. I told him until I got healthy, I could barely work, much less travel,” says Cari, who, along with her husband Leo, owns businesses that require a significant amount of traveling.

Cari’s friend, a resident of St. Louis, ultimately connected her to the doctors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Cari was assigned to the division of renal diseases—which specializes in diseases of the kidney and surrounding area including liver—and was in St. Louis two days later. On her flight from her hometown of Sheridan, Wyoming, she recalls having to lay her seat back with her feet propped up to keep her pain minimized.

The renal disease division team members at Barnes-Jewish soon realized that Cari actually needed to be seen by the gastrointestinal (GI) department. Within 24 hours, the GI team had found two abscesses in Cari’s colon and a grapefruit-sized mass on her ovary. Her doctors removed the mass and her ovary to ensure full removal of cancer if the mass was malignant. They also removed the damaged part of her colon. After seven days in recovery, Cari was on her way back to Wyoming.

“Everyone at Barnes-Jewish really worked together as a team to diagnose and save me,” says Cari, “and it all happened so fast. All of the doctors did tests, talked with each other, and figured it out. ”Cari came back in 2009 for a check-up with her doctors to see how she was healing. They asked if she was in pain and when Cari said no, they were shocked. The doctors told Cari she was inflamed and ulcerized, which signaled Crohn’s disease; she was diagnosed with the disease during that visit.

“After those eight months of excruciating pain, I really can no longer feel most pain, including the pain that is typically felt by people with Crohn’s,” says Cari. After two exceptional experiences at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Cari wanted to support the great doctors who had cared for her and their research efforts into Crohn’s disease.

“My husband and I decided to put the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation in our trust to support Crohn’s research because that will allow us to give the largest sum of money, making the biggest difference for furthering research and potentially touching the lives of many people with this disease,” says Cari. “We will continue to give regularly throughout our lifetime as well because we understand the immediate need for research.”

Today, Cari is back at work with Leo. In her free time, she drives her Clydesdale cart, hunts and rides horseback. To support Crohn's disease research, please give to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation's Crohn's Disease Research Fund (#7287) by clicking on "Give Now" above. If you have questions, please call David Sandler at 314-362-3499 or e-mail givingbarnesjewish@bjc.org.
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