In 2000, Vita Coffey, a single mother, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In the decade that followed, she lost not only her sight and ability to walk, but many friends, her job, her father, and nearly her sanity.
Struggling through pain, regular emergency visits to the hospital, and the debilitating side effects of an ever-changing cocktail of drugs, Vita remained hopeful that one day, she would find a better treatment.
And eventually, she did.
Much to Vita’s surprise, her participation in a new clinical study in 2009 restored her life and health in ways she never knew possible—and then some.
In the battle against her disease, Vita faced many uncertain circumstances, clinging to her journal as a source of hope and stability. In Little V’s Hope, Vita tells her story of love, loss, and recovery, in her own words, for the first time.
Born in 1957 to a middle class family in Detroit, Michigan, Vita Coffey spent her youth playing baseball and making friends with the 32 other children who lived on her block. When she went away to the University of Detroit at age 18, her hands-on nature and love for helping others led her to work toward becoming an x-ray technician. Vita moved to Boston after graduation to work in her field at Mount Auburn Hospital, attending Boston University all the while, and eventually completed a degree in early childhood development and liberal arts in 1981.
After completing her second degree, Vita married a colleague, had three children, and relocated to Omaha, Nebraska. In 1993, she co-founded Omaha Wine Company, a fine wine retail store that would quickly grow into a full-time effort. Vita also pursued volunteer work with several local organizations, including elementary schools, Joslyn Art Museum, the Omaha Symphony, and others.
Not long after her divorce in 1999, Vita began experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)—a disease that would painfully rule more than ten years of her life. Still learning how to live with MS herself, Vita remarried a few years later, receiving strength and support from her husband throughout even the most trying periods of her illness. Despite her doctors’ insistence that there was little hope for Vita’s future, she spent years searching for forms of treatment that showed great promise—until she found the one that would change her life.
Today, Vita is the healthiest she’s been since she was diagnosed with MS, owing much of her renewed life to the support of her family, friends, and her refusal to lose hope. She continues her passion for volunteering, working with children as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA), donating her time to The Hope Center for underprivileged children in North Omaha, raising funds for MS research, and teaching for Omaha's Community Bible Study Organization. She also maintains her interest in The Omaha Wine Company and enjoys feeling well enough to exercise and write regularly.
Preparing for Treatment
Pictured with a nurse in 2009, Vita weathers an adverse drug reaction before receiving chemotherapy.
Vita's new friend Rob from Seattle sprays her thinning hair pink in 2009.
Vita with a partially-shaven head in 2009.
Vita's daughter, Allison, helps shave her head during chemotherapy treatment.
Vita's friend Rob shaves her thinning hair in 2009.
Vita's pink hair after shaving her head in 2009.
Vita grins after shaving her head for chemotherapy in 2009.
Vita with her son Zach and daughter Allison on Christmas, 2009.
Unable to walk without falling, Vita tries her first wheelchair in Seattle in 2009.
Vita witha a nurse in Seattle in 2009.
Vita prepares for her Hickman implant in 2009.
Vita with her sister, Pat, shortly after her stem cell transplant in 2010.
Vita returns from a daily visit to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in 2009.
Vita prepares to receive chemotherapy in 2010 shortly before her stem cell and bone marrow transplant procedure.
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Friends and Family
Vita with her parents, brothers Frank and Fred, and Sister Pat
Left to right: Vita with "honorary son" Jason, stepsons Tim and Sean, and honorary sons Alex and Kevin on her return from Seattle in April 2010.
Vita with her brother Fred, sister Pat, and brother Frank at a wedding in 2011.
Vita with her son Zach and daughter Allison in 2012.
Vita and her sister, Pat, in 2011.
Vita with friends Rob and Cheryl in Seattle in 2010.
Vita with her sister-in-law Yvonne, daughter Allison, niece Gina, sister Pat, and sister-in-law Cindy.
Vita with her nephew Lou in 2011.
Vita and her husband, Mike, during the summer of 2011.
Vita and her husband, Mike, during the summer of 2012.
Vita with friends in 2011.
Vita with great-niece Eva, nephew Steve, stepson Tim, stepdaughter Megan, and great-niece Nora in 2013.
Vita with her daughter Allison and son Ryan in 2013.
Vita and her husband, Mike, with their family in 2013.
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The Many Faces of Vita
Vita at a fundraising event for her treatment in September, 2009.
Vita prepares to shave her head after dyeing her hair pink in 2009.
Vita poses after shaving her head for chemotherapy in 2009.
Vita experiments with a new hat after losing her hair to chemotherapy.
Vita wears a new wig after returning home from Seattle in 2010.
Vita's hair begins to regrow at home in Omaha, NE, in 2010.
A healthy Vita grins in 2013.
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Little V's Hope is now available electronically via iBooks for iPad, iPhone, and Mac, and in print from Blurb.com. Select an option below to purchase it! Signed print copies are also available via PayPal.
"Live like you’re alive. Act like you’re living. Let your heart soar. Hope."
©2014 Vita J. Coffey and Käj J. Jorgensen | Site design by Käj J. Jorgensen