A book by Robert “Tim” Yoho, D.P.M., M.S., dean emeritus of the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, epitomizes the human condition that even the most heartbreaking tragedies can inspire goodness through the actions of the people involved.
Life After Death: the Laura and Caralyn Yoho Story (Outskirts Press, 2022) chronicles the lives of Yoho’s son, Nathan, and his fiancée, Laura, and their engagement, which was so romantic it became part of a local jewelry store’s “Gold Box Moment” sales campaign. It recounts her first acute nonhemorrhagic event on March 15, 2011, five months before their wedding, and eventual diagnosis of a brain tumor, which took her life on July 23, 2013. It tells how Nathan and Laura’s daughter, Caralyn, was born less than four months later, carried by Laura’s dearest friend, Kara.
Throughout those epic events, the book shows the incredible strength, love and joy of the individuals who experienced them: Nathan’s “unwavering commitment to leave no stone unturned” in seeking treatment options for his beautiful bride. Laura’s resistance to sympathy as she maintained her exercise routine, as much as she could, through 27 months of cancer treatment and three major brain surgeries. The couple’s intentional plan to create embryos, before she began cancer treatments, so they could have a child.
And throughout, the unconditional love of family, friends and strangers. Laura’s brother Joe planned a pre-wedding party for the couple with a carnival atmosphere and t-shirts inscribed with “Buck Train Fumors.” Kara stepped up as a surrogate without being asked. Physicians provided expert care and then kept in touch with Nathan after Laura died. Loved ones and strangers provided support in all forms, from donations to diapers and breast milk for baby Caralyn.
“Even in the darkest, toughest of times, there’s still a lot of good in the world and people who want to help,” Yoho says. “I hope when people read the book, it encourages them that when they see an opportunity to help others, they should.”
He also hopes medical students read the book to get a glimpse of how real-world conditions and diagnoses affect not just patients but also their loved ones and plans for the future. He points to Ian Parney, M.D., Ph.D., a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Care Center in Rochester, MN, who told him, “You can never take away hope.”
“Dr. Parney is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who deals with this stuff every day. He’s the ultimate scientist, but he put the human element in his care,” Yoho says. “When he said to always have hope, it took me aback.”
Yoho, who retired from DMU in 2021, says writing the book contributed to his own healing process, but Caralyn was the primary reason he wrote it.
“Such unique and interesting circumstances brought her into this world, I thought I should document that for her,” he says of his granddaughter, now nine and thriving. “I want her to understand and appreciate all the love that was involved in that.”