The Electrical Worker online
February 2013

Letters to the Editor
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Holiday Miracle

I wish to share with you a message I received from Brother Neil Swenson, a member of Local 22, Omaha, Neb., who was my tool buddy, friend and neighbor, in Pueblo, Colo. This story is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

The Callie Swenson story is very touching. But more importantly it is a powerful example of the importance of unions and the availability of health insurance to American workers.

I hope this uplifting message of brotherhood, love, joy, and hope will find you and your family in good health.

Ron Phillips, Local 611 member
Albuquerque, N.M.


I hope that you and your family had a great holiday. We had a very good one, and I'll tell you what made it so. On the Monday before Christmas my wife took our daughter Callie to the doctor because her torso looked misshaped.

The doctor told us that she was within weight guidelines for her size and age, but my wife insisted that she didn't look quite right, since her legs and arms were so thin compared to her torso. So they took X-rays and sent her home. I just thought that she had gained some weight over the last two years.

They had returned home and two hours later, the doctor called and said that we needed to immediately take her to Children's Hospital for further testing, as the X-rays had revealed a large mass that was pushing her internal organs up into her chest cavity. The first thing that you think of when a doctor says "mass," you think, "cancer."

I can now promise you that one of the hardest questions that you will ever be asked is, "Dad, am I going to die?"

My wife took her to the hospital and stayed the night with her in her room. They did some blood work and other tests during the night and I watched her CT scan the next day from a monitor and saw this huge dark thing that went from her pelvis to the middle of her rib cage. Definitely not a comforting sight!

By the time we got back up to her room, we found a team of pediatric doctors (seven of them!) waiting. The head surgeon said, "We have some good news for you." He said that they believed that the mass was an ovarian cyst and that he was over 99 percent sure that it was non-cancerous. He then spoke directly to my daughter and told her that he would have her feeling better than she had felt in the last two years and that she would feel like a new person within a couple of days. He said he could perform surgery that afternoon. I asked him how much it weighed and he said he would find out for me.

When she was in recovery, the surgeon came down to tell us that everything went well, and that she actually had a fallopian cyst. He looked at me and said, "You wanted to know how big this thing was? Just over 10 kilograms, or a little over 22 pounds." She had gone from 143 pounds to 120 pounds in two hours!

She is doing fine.

As an example of IBEW brotherhood, I have a prime example. I know a lot of people in our local, and all of my friends are electricians. I only told a couple guys on my job (the Ameritrade Headquarters project in Omaha) what was going on, but word must have traveled fast, as I started getting text messages from some friends at another site. A couple of my friends were very concerned and asked if we needed anything. I assured them that she was recovering and doing very well and we were all well and didn't need anything, and that we were just happy that this ordeal had a happy ending.

This was on Wednesday, a day after the surgery. I got a call from one of them on Friday telling me to come to his house to pick up the card they had passed around for Callie. I told them that they really hadn't needed to do that! I picked up the card that night after work and gave it to her. She counted the signatures and said, "Dad… there are more than 100 names on here!"

And then I gave her the little gift bag that came with it, which contained a fat envelope, and told her, "This is a gift to you from people that know me, and also from people that have never even met me. This is what they did for you when I told them we were fine and we didn't need anything."

The brothers still gave her $528. She cried when she counted it, saying, "This is too much."

I was touched deeply by what they did for her and will never forget.

I hope your holiday was as good, but less eventful!



Callie Swenson