The process was tough. Even though he wasn’t feeling well, Kinder went to watch Jennifer run a half-marathon in Champaign on a cold rainy day in the spring.
“I met her at the finish line,” he said. “She told me, ‘Every time I started getting tired I would think of you, Dad, and what you’re going through and I would keep going.”
In the meantime, word of his illness spread through family, friends and neighbors through social media and other means.
“We just had an outpouring of letters and cards,” Kinder said. “There were prayer groups across the country. I have a sister in Colorado and a sister in New York, and family everywhere.”
The couple started an Internet site to keep everyone updated on the situation.
Ava, who now is retired from District 118 schools, remained friends with a woman who worked as a secretary at South View Middle School. The woman’s brother was a cancer researcher for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He offered to look at Kinder’s case even before the Carle physicians recommended the Kinders go to Barnes for a stem-cell transplant. All the physicians agreed on the proposed treatment.
Preparation for the transplant meant going through a series of shots to build up the stem cells in Kinder’s blood. Thirty days after his final chemotherapy treatment, Kinder was in Barnes so the stem cells could be collected and frozen in preparation for the transplant.
Kinder explained bone marrow manufactures the types of blood cells the body needs. A series of protein shots boosted his bone marrow’s production of stem cells. His blood was withdrawn and placed in a centrifuge, which then separates the blood’s components. The stem cells — 5.5 million of them in Kinder’s case — are collected and frozen in nitrogen.