Beloved local broadcaster asks for help in time of need
WKLK and WMOZ radio broadcaster Dwight Cadwell is seeking a liver transplant as his decade-long battle with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis has worsened.
CLOQUET — Perched at his broadcast desk on the far end of the Wrenshall High School stage overlooking the court, longtime sports broadcaster Dwight Cadwell took to the local airwaves to call the final Brown Jug game between the Carlton and Wrenshall boys basketball teams earlier this month.
The assignment, while exciting in its own right, held an even greater significance for Cadwell, as it meant an opportunity to get back to doing what he loves as he continues to battle health issues.
“When you get to do something you have a passion for (and) to have it just kind of taken away it’s kind of like, ah man,” Cadwell said with emotion in his voice. ”... Granted, I’m checking scores, and I’m still doing work for the station at home, and I’ve got some of those capabilities, but it’s not like being at a game or getting that atmosphere.”
Cadwell, who typically calls between 40-50 local games during the winter sports season, has had to significantly dial back his normal radio schedule, as his battle with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, has intensified since earlier this summer, which has prompted his need for a liver transplant.
NASH is a type of liver disease in which fat builds up in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol, according to Cancer.gov.
The original diagnosis came 11 years ago after Cadwell reported feeling extremely sick and was admitted to Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet. He was later transferred to Essentia Health in Duluth where it was determined that his liver had stopped working.
IVs and medications provided by the gastroenterology unit of Essentia allowed his liver to begin working again, but below normal levels.
Additional treatment at Mayo Clinic led to the official diagnosis of NASH, which had been kept in check through multiple proactive steps until this past summer.
“During that stretch I was just mostly controlling it through diet, exercise, medication. It wasn’t until the end of May and beginning of June (that it worsened),” Cadwell shared. “And at first they didn’t even think it was my liver. I ended up gaining almost 40 pounds in like two weeks of fluid.”
The fluid build-up led to Cadwell being sent back to Mayo where doctors discovered that his liver was functioning at a 5-10% rate compared to that of a normal liver.
The complications signaled the immediate need for a liver transplant, in addition to having the extra fluid drained approximately every 10 days.
“You have two options when you get the liver transplant at the stage I’m at, (which) is you get a donor from a deceased individual or a living donor, in which a living donor can donate half their liver,” Cadwell said.
Up until that point, Cadwell had been reluctant to share the details of his condition outside of his immediate family and co-workers at the radio station. Under advisement from his care team, Cadwell’s wife Diane shared details of the situation on Facebook with a link to the Mayo Clinic's living donor website in order to get the word out.
“They said that the more people that are aware of the situation, the more chance you'll have of people that would be willing to get tested or go through the process of seeing if they would be able to donate part of their liver,” Dwight said.
The news has since spread around the community.
“We have gotten very positive responses,” Diane said. “I’ve actually had a few people reach out that have family members or they themselves have had a transplant. And you know just little encouraging words, so that was really nice. I didn’t expect to get that.”
As the couple, who have been married for 36 years, continue to hope and pray for a match, Diane shared that the two have leaned on their faith, which remains a large part of their lives.
“God gets us through everything, good or bad,” Diane said. “We’ve gotten some good advice about you can’t control everything, and Dwight’s actually very positive. He’s not somebody that’s like 'Oh poor me.' He’s just like, 'Well, we gotta get this done.' I probably worry about it more than he does as far as like 'Well what if?' But what if he gets hit by a car tomorrow?”
“That’s the kind of the attitude that you have to take because you’re not guaranteed no matter whether you have a disease or cancer or whatever, that’s kind of how we view things,” she went on to say. “I mean we want him around for quite a bit longer. He’s a pretty good grandpa.”
The Cadwell family remains hopeful that a living donor will be found as word continues to spread about Dwight’s condition. In the meantime, Dwight said the support from his five kids and time spent taking care of his five grandchildren continues to provide him with strength.
“I’ve got my oldest (who) just started first grade — a grandson — and I have four that are 3 and younger. So watching them grow up and being able to babysit, that’s really kind of the motivation that keeps you going.”
Those interested in learning whether they’re eligible to be a live-donor are encouraged to visit the Mayo Clinic website for more information.