Dennis' family and friends are uniting to raise money to help with his battle against Multiple Myeloma. Please show your support!
Who is Dennis McGuire? A loving husband, father, brother, uncle, nephew, friend and acquaintance…..ultimately, my Dad, whom I love with all my heart. This is his story.
Andover Township, NJ resident of 43 years and original owner of McGuire’s Market, my father, Dennis, is enduring more than his fair share of what some would call a not-so-fair turn of events.
My father was born and raised in Bayonne, NJ until moving to Stanhope during his high school years. Married in 1966, my father went off to serve his country during the Vietnam War, stationed in Thailand. After his service, my father returned home to my mother to start their life together. My parents moved to Andover Township in 1971, the same year I was born. My brother, Dennis Jr., was born in 1981.
After many years of working for others, in 1986, my father opened the doors to his own business, McGuire’s Market on Route 206 in Andover Township. “Meat me at McGuire’s” was the advertisement that hit the NJ Herald. A meat cutter by trade, my father had the best of both worlds by offering customers quality service while feeding his need for social interaction. My father has always been a people person!
Although McGuire’s Market was sold in 1991, my father’s adventures did not stop there. His passion for people interaction led him to Lakeland Bus Lines where he performed line runs and chartered services. After several years of driving a bus, my father went back to his first passion, cutting meat. He worked for Shoprite, Hayek’s Market and then in 2000, settled into King’s Supermarkets, where he would eventually retire.
Throughout the years 1986 and 2004, my father selflessly shared his home with my maternal grandparents with health issues, a family friend raising her daughter on her own, and his own mother with Alzheimer’s. My parents taught us a valuable life lesson - Compassion! Somehow my parents managed to fit family vacations into the mix of our hectic life…..and my brother and I have the best memories of those trips!
My father walked me down the aisle in 1998 and my parents were blessed with their first granddaughter in 2001. So many happy and tragic events all rolled up into their lives with the worst yet to come.
Nothing could have prepared my family for June 2006. My father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma Stage 3, a blood cancer that develops in the bone marrow. The disease was suspected by his primary physician during routine lab work and confirmed by an oncologist. Life as we knew it came to a screeching halt.
My father started his cancer treatment with a drug called Thalidomide. Shortly after starting the treatment he developed a blood clot in his leg and was put on a blood thinner. Throughout this time, my father continued to work, even when he was utterly exhausted. My father spent Christmas of 2006, in NYC at Sloan Kettering undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant.
When my father returned to work in Spring 2007, he was a renewed man but only for a short time. The stem cell transplant did not work and the cancer was back. By this time, they had already come out with other drugs for Multiple Myeloma. The drug of choice this time was Velcade. (As of today, my father is the only person in the U.S. that has successfully received Velcade treatments for as long as he has – 7 years.) My father went from receiving chemo in NYC to then receiving chemo at Morristown Memorial and at some time in there my father’s health insurance was maxed out. It was extended slightly after requesting an increase to the union then ran out again. After the insurance ran out again, other treatment options were considered and my father started going to the VA Hospital in East Orange. Although my father was receiving chemo treatments in cycles with a short break in between, the man never stopped working! His personal drive to maintain as much of a normal life as he could makes him the man he is today – still strongly fighting. My father is truly the hardest working man I know. After working 6 days a week most of his life, my father finally retired in December 2010.
My parents were blessed with another granddaughter in 2008. In April 2012, my father came down with pneumonia. The intense coughing from the pneumonia caused four compression fractures in his back. The worst of the fractures was filled in with cement. He had to forego a trip to Walt Disney World with his granddaughters because of it. Disappointment and devastation was felt by all of us.
To have something to look forward to, a cruise was booked for February 2014. This would give my father a good amount of recovery and planning time. As the days grew closer, so did his enthusiasm for their trip. My parents set sail for the Bahamas on February 10th with another couple. The four of them had a fantastic time on the ship, exploring the island and enjoying each other’s company.
Sunday, February 16th was disembarking day. Around 10AM, my father started shaking uncontrollably at the table and my mother thought he might be having a seisuzre. My father explained that he was freezing and couldn’t wait to get home. Upon his arrival home, my father needed assistance walking into the house, was shaking and had a raging fever. We wanted to call the ambulance but he refused. My mother and I were able to get his fever to break and he ate dinner as if it were any other night.
By the next morning, my father requested to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. If Dad is asking to go to the hospital via ambulance - you know it's not good! He arrived at Newton Memorial Hospital with a raging fever, fast heart rate, high blood pressure and a dry cough. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with severe bacterial pneumonia and a bacterial infection in his blood with a grim outlook from the pulmonologist. My mother received a phone call in the middle of the night saying my father needed to be intubated with a ventilator. My father was sedated with the ventilator breathing for him for 15 days. A feeding tube was added during that time as well. After about 8 days, many attempts were made to wake him and have him breathe on his own; none of them succeeded. With nothing short of a miracle and my father’s ability to fight, on Tuesday, March 4th, he was awakened and breathing on his own and the ventilator was removed. 3 days after that, my father was moved to Intermediary Care. He was on his way.
After 25 days at Newton Memorial Hospital, my father was moved to the VA Hospital in East Orange for further care. On his 37th day of being in the hospital, my father finally passed the swallow test and his feeding tube was removed. On day 40, Friday, March 28th, he was moved to the Andover Sub-Acute & Rehabilitation facility in Andover Township. Each day my father was able to do more and more and worked very hard towards coming home.
After 48 days into my father’s horrific adventure, he was able to spend the day at home to enjoy a visit with his family. After a combined 53 days at Newton Memorial’s ICU and Intermediary Care, the VA Hospital in East Orange and the Andover Sub-Acute & Rehab facility, my father returned home on Day 54, April 11th!
Words cannot express how happy we are to have him home!! As the journey continues, we are all here to support him in his fight against this horrible disease.
Dad – you are an amazing man! We love you more than anything and we all pray for you each and every day and know that you will prevail!!