Andover family raises funds for beloved patriarch fighting Multiple Myeloma

| 06 May 2014 | 11:34

Kimberly Post of Andover, and her brother, Dennis Jr., of Budd Lake, almost lost their father a few months ago to Multiple Myeloma.

Hoping to give their parents a break, they are trying to raise enough money to send them on a summer vacation.

"He loves Rhode Island, and for he and my mom to be able to spend some time there would be amazing," Post said.

"Meat me at McGuire's"
It's been a long haul for the McGuire family both emotionally and financially.

Eight years ago, her father, Dennis McGuire, a 43 year resident of Andover, original owner of McGuire's Market and "Unofficial Mayor of Andover" was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma.

"My dad is enduring more than his fair share of what some would call a not-so-fair turn of events," Post said.

McGuire was born and raised in Bayonne then moved to Stanhope during his high school years. He married his wife, Sue, in 1966 then went off to serve his country during the Vietnam War, where he was stationed in Thailand.

After his service, he returned home so he and his wife could start their life together. They moved to Andover Township in 1971, the same year Kim was born, and Dennis Jr., was born in 1981.

After many years of working for others, in 1986, McGuire opened the doors to his own business — McGuire’s Market — on Route 206 in Andover Township.

“'Meat me at McGuire’s' was the advertisement in the papers," Post recalls. "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, McGuire's passion for people led him to Lakeland Bus Lines where he performed line runs and chartered services. After several years of driving a bus, McGuire returned to his first love: 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, McGuire selflessly shared his home with his wife's parents 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 also managed to fit family vacations into the mix of our hectic life, and my brother and I have the best memories of those trips," said Post.

McGuire walked his daughter down the aisle in 1998 and her parents were blessed with their first granddaughter in 2001.

Nothing could have prepared the family for June 2006. McGuire 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," said Post.

McGuire 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, he continued to work, even when, Post said, he was "utterly exhausted."

He spent Christmas of 2006, in NYC at Sloan Kettering undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant.

When McGuire returned to work in the spring of 2007, he appeared a new man, but sadly, it didn't last. The stem cell transplant hadn't worked and the cancer was back. By this time, other drugs for Multiple Myeloma were available.

"The drug of choice this time was Velcade," Post said. "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 — seven 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 McGuire started going to the VA Hospital in East Orange. Despite receiving chemo treatments in cycles with a short break in between, McGuire 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," Post said. "My father is truly the hardest working man I know."

After working six days a week for most of his life, he finally retired in December 2010. The McGuires were blessed with another granddaughter in 2008.

In April 2012, McGuire came down with pneumonia. The intense coughing from the pneumonia caused four compression fractures in his back, and 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," said Post.

Near fatal encounter
In an effort to give him something to look forward to, the McGuires booked a cruise 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, and they set sail for the Bahamas on Feb. 10," said Post.

But the cruise proved to be nearly fatal. On Feb. 16, the day they were to disembark, around 10 a.m. McGuire started shaking uncontrollably at the table and his wife thought he was having a seizure. He said he was freezing and couldn't wait to get home. His wife and daughter got the fever under control, but by the next morning he asked for them to call an ambulance.

They knew this was serious.
"He arrived at Newton Memorial Hospital with a raging fever, fast heart rate, high blood pressure and a dry cough. 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," Post said, "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 eight days, many futile attempts had been made to wake him and have him breathe on his own, but non had succeeded. The family credits McGuire's ability to fight with the fact that on Tuesday, March 4, he miraculously awakened and was able to breathe on his own. He was moved to Intermediate Care and was on his way to recovery.

After 25 days at Newton Memorial Hospital, he was moved to the VA Hospital in East Orange for further care.

After 48 days into McGuire's horrific adventure, he was able to spend the day at home to enjoy a visit with his family. He finally went home for good on April 11.

"Words cannot express how happy we are to have him home," said Post. "As the journey continues, we are all here to support him in his fight against this horrible disease."

The fight against his illness has taken both its emotional and financial toll on the family, so McGuire's children have created a donation web site at GiveForward —