Just days after being told he had a tumor inside his heart, Ron Reffitt Jr., of Elk Rapids, Mich., was on a medical airplane headed to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Gazing down at Lake Michigan on that beautiful sunny day in January 2009, he wondered: Is this the last time I’ll see this?
His symptoms began on New Year’s Day in 2009 — the day after his 42nd birthday. Reffitt woke with a cramp in his neck. The pain worsened as he walked to the kitchen, where he passed out. He roused and passed out again.
At the local hospital, tests revealed fluid around his heart. Then came the real blow: he had a tumor in the right atrium of his heart. Reffitt, who works in his family’s construction business in Traverse City, Mich., was told he didn’t have long to live.