Jerry Pillsbury Memorial Fundraiser

Jerry Pillsbury Memorial Fundraiser

Jerry and Clar

To know Jerry Pillsbury was to love him. He was a kind soul with a big smile, and an even bigger heart.

At 29, Jerry was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Alone in a hospital room when the news came from the doctor, he was shocked and confused, as he barely understood the disease. After a short visit later from a social worker, he learned the physiological meaning of the diagnosis. But through years of critical thought about his illness, he reshaped his philosophical approach to disease.

Jerry was fully ambulatory for the first ten years of his disease. Over the next 25 years, he relied on his wheelchair for mobility. He required daily care from caregivers and family. He maintained a warrior spirit but faced inevitable emotional pain. When anyone asked how he was feeling he would say “MAH-velous.” And he was.

In a world where we associate disease as the enemy, Jerry embraced his illness as a “game” to be “played.” A chess player at heart, he decided instead of spending his life *fighting* the disease he would view every obstacle his disease presented as a move, and he would counter.

He authored an article, Refusing to Fight: A Playful Approach to Chronic Disease. The article was published by the British Sociological Society in a book entitled, Exploring the Body (see link below). Jerry illuminates the fact that we will all experience illness either ourselves or as a caregiver. He encouraged us all to rethink the negative approach to a diagnosis and challenged us to rethink the language of despair. Disease can be enlightening and enrich our daily lives and relationships.

For over 28 years, Jerry and Clar, as well as their daughters, spent a great deal of time at Bronson Hospital. Jerry always said he was there for the frequent flyer miles! The doctors were phenomenal, the technology state-of-the-art, and the physical environment pleasant and clean. But what was unmatched, by any standard, were the nurses and technicians. The nurses were warm and caring and treated both Jerry and Clar as if they were family. It was heartwarming to see familiar faces when Jerry was inpatient. From time to time, some staff members would visit his room when they saw his name, even though he wasn’t their patient. Many staff would say they were sorry we were there. Our response was always the same. No one wants to be in the hospital. But if it happens, they should feel lucky to have the privilege of health care at Bronson Hospital.

Jerry and Clar lived on the privileged end of disability, with a van with a ramp, a barrier- free home,stable finances, adequate health insurance and the good fortune of Bronson Hospital just ten minutes away. For these reasons, the Pillsbury family would like to support those who need as much help without the same privileges. It is their hope that each person who seeks medical care can do so in dignity.

Please join Clar and her family in honoring the life of Jerry by offering a donation to the Bronson Health Foundation. All gifts received will be used to support Bronson’s Patients in Need Fund. Thank you for your unwavering support of the Pillsbury family and for any donation, no matter what size.

Bronson Health Foundation's Patients In Need Fund is to provide assistance for out-of-pocket needs that can devastate individuals or families when a medical crisis arises. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Transportation to and from appointments or after a hospital stay
  • Prescription support
  • Medical equipment
  • Home health needs such as oxygen, eyeglasses, dentures, and more
  • Personal barriers for safe discharge

Read Jerry's Article

Photos of Jerry and Family

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