June Motzer, a soft spoken woman who owns St. Croix Center for the Healing Arts, knew there was something wrong nearly four years ago. She has survived years of being anemic, being diagnosed with carpal tunnel, asthma and having a hysterectomy, two cardiac arrests, a pacemaker installation and a heavy dose of chemotherapy.
Today, she wants to share her journey with others so they may be enlightened. There is no anger or angst in her message, just one of hope that others can be spared her trials and tribulations.
As early as 2004 when her energy level seemed down and an annual physical indicated she was anemic. Since all other signs were normal her doctor suggested yoga. Heartburn was also beginning to trouble her. As time went on other symptoms took hold including shortness of breath and chest pain. Food started to taste strange.
Always in good condition and a person who had a passion for being a massage therapist, she tried in vain to get into “shape.” It was not a task she could accomplish.
Time passed and her symptoms accumulated as her health deteriorated. In 2008 her annual physical showed an alarming change in her blood work. After being checked for multiple myeloma, lymphoma and leukemia she was diagnosed with MGUS, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance.
The shock and fear subsided briefly as she realized she could “live” with this, even though it could become multiple myeloma. Checkups were going to be required every three to four months.
In the meantime her hands and fingers were killing her and she developed a trigger finger. Late in 2009 a hysterectomy was advised. Pre-surgery tests showed possible heart or circulation problems. Further testing by cardiologists cleared her, and in December of 2009 the surgery is done. In early 2010 Motzer underwent carpal tunnel surgery and repair of the trigger finger.
“No matter where I went, nobody knew what I had,” Motzer said. “I wanted a doctor to be a Dr. House. Something is wrong and you know something is wrong and nobody can put the pieces together.”
It was while Motzer was reading about a condition her sister was being checked for that she noticed that the next condition alphabetically was amyloidosis.
“I had seen the word before when searching or information on MGUS so I clicked on it,” said Motzer. “It was total divine intervention. I had all of the symptoms except the swollen tongue.” This was in May of 2010.
Checking back in with her general practitioner, a cheek biopsy and an EKG gave her the diagnosis she suspected.
The next step was Mayo Clinic. For the next two months, she would live in Rochester, her sister, Nancy, a nurse would come from California to stay with her. Motzer’s treatment began as an outpatient. Further testing showed she had amyloidosis with cardiac and soft tissue involvement. So it was no surprise that while in Rochester, undergoing stem cell treatment and chemo, she went into cardiac arrest.
A pacemaker was implanted and she eventually Motzer returned to Hudson and her husband, Roger Comstock, who has been managing the home front between visits to see her.
The saga continued when she suffered a second cardiac arrest in September 2010. She was treated in Stillwater and was told to get her affairs in order.
However, her doctor at Mayo Clinic had other plans. A return visit, removal of 22 pounds of fluid and tweaking of the pacemaker function has set Motzer on a steady course of recovery. She now returns annually for check-ups for amyloidosis and the resultant side-effects.
“I really want to educate the physicians to look for AMY (amyloidosis),” Motzer said, who discovered that the pathology report done during her hysterectomy actually remarked that the tissue showed signs of amyloidois.
“The last time most physicians have heard of this was in medical school,” she said. “It is considered so rare that only 3,000 people are year a diagnosed with it. Of course, it is rare if they never check for it.”
“My whole plan is so that MDs in this area will put AMY on their radar,” said Motzer. “To look for one disease and not the other doesn’t make any sense.”
Today, she is moving on to a new phase of her life. Age, her condition and the economy helped Motzer decided to close St. Croix Center for the Healing Arts.
She notified students in May 2010 that the school would remain open through the end of 2011, giving them plenty of time to finish their course work.
The massage therapy school has been located in Hudson since 1999, having started in Afton in 1997. Motzer has been teaching massage there for 14 years. “It still surprises me that people still don’t know we are here.”
“When the recession started, she said, “along with the proliferation of more schools teaching massage therapy, I really started to see a decline in enrollment.”
The school, which includes instruction on other modalities in addition to massage, is located on the lower level at 411 County UU.
“What I want is for it to be a continuing education facility,” Motzer said. The 5,000 square-foot facility has two large classrooms, clinic rooms, a library and a back office area. She owns the entire lower level.
While classes are winding down, Motzer is hoping to fill the facility with tenants offering classes and treatment options including massage therapy.
“I had a hell of a year,” said Motzer of 2010. “Yes, I have complications, but my spirit is full.”