Love at first sight

Allyn Udell

Love at first sight

Love at first sight. In the fall of 1970, I went to Rosh Hashanah services at the JCC in New Orleans with my medical school roommate Bruce Samuels. Across the room I saw a young women whose image riveted me. I could not get her out of my mind. As Bruce spent a lot of time at the undergraduate campus, I asked him to help find out who that young lady was. Two weeks later, Bruce handed me a tiny torn piece of paper with the Newcomb dorm floor telephone number of Allyn Sue Padawer. My overwhelming desire to meet Sue gave me the courage to overcome my inherently shy nature enabling me to make a cold call to someone I might understandably be rejected by outright. After a few weeks I convinced Allyn to have a coffee at Camelia Grill. My persistence eventually won her over after having to convince her to vanquish eight other potential suitors. Not wasting any time within 10 months after meeting we were married, beginning a 47 « year journey through medical school, internship, an incredible 13,000 mile cross-continent trip without cell phones or itinerary, residency, fellowship, practicing at LIJ and North Shore, having three extraordinary children, (Erin, Jared, Zach), a great son-in-law Leigh, loving daughter in law Riki and five beautiful grandchildren, Alex, Avery, Austin, Essie and Piper Allyn.

Everyone who knew Allyn, can understand why I was smitten; the truly genuine smile of a Southern Belle, Dyan Cannon beauty, sense of true innocence, kindness, and sweetness and lack of pretentiousness. What a selfless person Allyn was. Always interested in other people and their families. No matter how sick she was, she would always direct the conversation to make the other person feel comfortable and comforted. She was so interested in everyone’s family. Anyone who knew her well loved her for her enduring qualities. There was truly not a bad bone in her body; except for what myeloma did to her.

Over 21 years ago, Al had an x-ray of her hips to find an explanation for progressive pain playing tennis which she truly loved. A few days later I walked into my office, picked up the radiology report which indicated multiple lytic lesions; a presumptive diagnosis of multiple myeloma. The terror I felt was gut wrenching, as I knew our families lives would never be the same again. With the horrible prospect of a 50% three year survival rate, we had to find a better option. Kanti Rai and the hematology team at Long Island Jewish, suggested and arranged for us to travel to the University of Arkansas to see Bart Barlogie, who we were told was changing the treatment paradigm for myeloma, with a completely novel approach, treating the disease much more aggressively than anyone in the world. He and his team including David Siegel were dedicated to finding a cure. In the beginning none of us could have imagined that Allyn would have survived and endured more than 21 years of treatment until we finally ran out of viable options.

To the very end, Allyn was a cheerleader to countless myeloma patients. She refused to be bothered by listening to patients describe their personal horror stories. She only wanted to think about the good days she had and was looking forward to the next day. For her, the glass was more than half full. She dismissed her personal pain and suffering, always with a smile on her face and hello dollies for everyone taking care of her no matter how sick she was. To her last days Allyn had a smile on her face and said she was perfectly OK.
I can’t begin to thank all of the doctors, nurses, caregivers, family and friends who were instrumental in Al’s care. Our family is forever indebted to all of you for the incredible quality time you spent with her and love you committed from your personal lives to allow Allyn to be with us for all these years.

48 years after we met I know my persistence to convince Allyn to marry me was the BEST decision of my life. As George Bush senior was quoted describing his love of his wife, Barbara, Allyn and I were two people but ONE person. My life with Allyn meant everything to me, my one and only true love. Al, rest in peace.

Ira Udell

Allyn and Ira Udell