By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Southborough – For Stephen Coldwell, 74, receiving a brain tumor diagnosis in July has done little to slow him down. Recently, the Pilgrim Church bell ringer, avid (vegetable) gardener and Southborough Food Pantry volunteer has been spotted moving split logs in his yard (to fuel his wood stove) and helping at the pantry's “Scouting for Food” event Nov. 2.
Coldwell grew up in Framingham. In 1964, while he was attending the University of Rhode Island, his father purchased 35 acres of land adjacent to the Sudbury Reservoir between Middle Road and Parkerville Road in Southborough. Six family homes have since been built on the land, sharing a mailbox and a common drive.
Coldwell married his high school sweetheart, Marjorie Dunham in 1967 at Southborough's Pilgrim Church.
The Coldwells have been active members of Pilgrim Church – Marjorie is the church historian and Stephen volunteered on the financial committee. In addition, Stephen has been a member of the Pilgrim Church hand bell choir for almost two decades.
After college, Coldwell began working at Middlesex Research, the family textile company in Hudson started by his father, Raymond, in 1945.
Following his retirement in 2002, Coldwell had the opportunity to enjoy the things that he is most passionate about. Among them, helping at the Southborough Food Pantry where his official title is “inventory coordinator.” He is meticulous about sorting the donated items (by month, day, and year) and rotating the stock on the shelves to make sure the food items are not past the expiration date.
Coldwell's real love is his vegetable garden, a tradition started by his father. Once Coldwell retired, he devoted much time to making a bigger and better garden every year – growing a huge variety of vegetables and blueberries.
In June, Coldwell began feeling fatigued. An initial diagnosis of Lyme disease was given in July, but his slurred speech, inability to express thoughts, loss of concentration, and difficulty reading all grew worse which prompted more testing. A CAT scan revealed a Glioblastoma Grade IV brain tumor. After a successful surgery Aug. 15 Coldwell began a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation.
While Coldwell navigates life post-surgery, his family and friends have been diligent about sending cards and dropping off meals. Still, there are some who are motivated to do more, including Coldwell's niece, Becky Coldwell.
“There are only so many lasagnas I can bring to him, and only so many get well cards that can be written,” Becky explained. “I know the impact that the doctors and staff at both Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital have had on Stephen's outcome. So, a blood drive seemed like the best way to pay it forward.”
“With a diagnosis like this, there's an overwhelming desire to do something,” she continued. “This is my way to try to help make a difference for someone else in need and the best way that I could think of to show Stephen how important he is to me and my whole family.”
The Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital bloodmobile will be coming to Southborough Sat., Nov. 23, from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the parking lot?behind the?Town Hall and Pilgrim Church, 17 Common St.
Appointments are recommended and can be scheduled in advance at [email protected]?or 508-709-5330. Please include your name, phone number, email address and preferred donation time. Appointments are available every 15 minutes. Drop-in donors are also welcome. Blood donors should plan to dedicate about an hour for the entire experience.
In addition to the blood drive, donations to benefit the Southborough Food Pantry are requested. An updated list of?the most needed items can be found by visiting http://southboroughfoodpantry.org/current-needs.html.
“Thanksgiving is a time of sharing and being thankful for all that we have,” Becky said. “And what better way is there to spend your time during the Thanksgiving season than by donating your blood to benefit cancer patients and a few food items to help your community.”