Jim Schoen: Leukemia & Funeral Costs
For a few weeks now, my father, Jim Schoen, has complained about being a little “under the weather.” Having battled cancer and won, recovered from a painful hip surgery without complaining, I can say that my father is a tough guy—it takes a lot to admit he’s in pain.
So, last Friday, 3/24, when he called my mother, Kathy, to say he needed to go to the doctor, she came home immediately. She rushed him to the emergency room at Winona Health where the doctors notified them that he needed emergency surgery for a perforated intestine. He was then transported to Gundersen LaCrosse Hospital for care. The doctors at Gundersen discovered that he had Intestinal ischemia and infarcation, or loss of blood to a portion of his large intestine that had caused it to die. After undergoing a blood transfusion and emergency surgery to remove the section of his large intestine, it was reconnected to his small intestine. He’s had a succession of further tests to reveal that the loss of blood to his intestines is likely linked to the fact that his bone marrow has stopped producing enough blood platelets. The doctors at Gundersen are continuing to care for him and perform additional tests to determine why his bone marrow is not producing blood platelets, but right now there are still a lot more questions than answers. However, we are all thankful that he is responding well to the surgery so far and hopeful that we’ll have answers soon, so he can return home. I will be providing updates as we learn them.
How you can help:
Growing up, my parents used to say, “We may not have much, but we’re rich in love,” and all 5 of us kids watched as they extended that love to anyone who they knew was in need—from a stranger who needed a warm meal to friends who needed a place to call home until they could get back on their feet. They taught us to work hard, be humble, be kind and to give without expecting anything in return. I don’t think I’ve ever known my parents to ask for help themselves, but after these unfortunate circumstances, they will need your help.
After a hip replacement last year, my father chose to return to work part-time. Moving to part-time, he could no longer afford the healthcare premiums and deductible that came with his insurance. That said, the emergency surgeries, blood transfusion, tests and ongoing care will be expenses they will have to pay at 100%, creating a financial burden that is a medical bill nightmare. My parent’s mantra, “We may not have much, but we’re rich in love,” truly defines their love for one another and how they are approaching this situation, but unfortunately, hospitals prefer cash and collateral for payment versus an increased love quotient. So, here’s to me hoping that a little love from everyone we know can help to lessen the financial burden, together. Any amount you can contribute will truly make a difference. Your prayers for answers and Jim’s recovery are also appreciated.
In the hours leading up to his death, our father continued to write, working on his book, Night Work, like he had every other day for the last forty-five years. Only this time, he wrote from his hospital bed and with a deadline that was ultimate. Unfortunately, he never lived to see his final life's work printed, distributed and read by the community that
helped to shape the stories over the years that unfolded on those pages.
As we grieved his sudden loss, something surprising started to happen that made us appreciate the small business community of Winona. The owners and employees of the coffee shops he’d frequented to write at over the years (Blue Heron, Mugby Junction, Acoustic Cafe), the bookstores that he loved (Paperbacks & Pieces & The Bookshelf), started to reach out and urge us to finish what my father started
—the dream of publishing his first book. So, with the support of the Winona community, we will host an author reading event on July 8th at Acoustic Café, for James E. Schoen’s first and final book, Night Work. And there, we will all come together to celebrate our
favorite stories written by a man who lived and died by John Grisham's mantra: to write at least one page every day...until his very last day.
Reading on behalf of my father will be Chris Livingston, past owner of The Book Shelf, Ken McCullough, local Winona poet and author, and Richard Schoen, professional narrator & older brother to Jim Schoen.
To all of you, who have shared stories and kind words over these last few months, thank you. You have helped us move forward, to remember his kindness, his humor and his passion for story telling. If you are free, and in the vicinity of Winona, MN, on July 8th, please join us to enjoy some of Jim's favorite stories, read by some exceptionally talented people. The event is FREE and open to the public. We hope to see you there!
Acoustic Cafe | July 8, 2017 | 6:30 pm. Music starts at 8!
Last Friday, 3/24, our father was admitted to the hospital, complaining of pain. After extensive testing, on Wednesday, 3/29, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive stage of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and we were told that we would likely have him with us for 1-2 more weeks. Last night, Jim came back to the comfort of a home that he and Kathy built from the ground up 33 years ago, where they raised 5 children and celebrated birthdays, holidays and the life they'd created together.
It is with a heavy heart that we let all of our friends and family know that this morning, our father, Jim Schoen, passed away. Heaven got a man that 5 children were fiercely proud to call their father, one who flirted with the love of his life, Kathy, until his final days and someone who was authentic, kind and always had a witty comeback to soften your heart during the toughest of times. He will be missed so dearly by us all.
We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support this past week. During Jim's hospital stay, Kathy read the notes of encouragement coming from all of you and he was so touched by the number of people who'd reached out to them from all walks of their life together. It was a powerful reminder of the impact one man had on a community during his life.
Your prayers and continued support are appreciated in the coming weeks as we navigate payment options for hospital bills and arrange funeral plans.
Thank you all, again, from the bottom of our hearts. -The Schoen kids, on behalf of Jim & Kathy
To the friends, family and strangers that have taken a moment to read Jim & Kathy's story and make a donation towards his medical campaign, our family is in awe of your generosity. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! You have all inspired us to stay positive in the light of our recent news.
After another blood transfusion on Monday and bone marrow tests yesterday, the doctors determined that the reason Jim's bone marrow was not producing blood platelets was due to the fact that he has Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer that starts in bone marrow. We are trying to remain positive now and look at what our treatment options are.
Again, thanks to all of you, our own little network of prayers, support and words of encouragement. I don't think you understand the strength you've given us--you've kept us going this week! As we learn more, we will keep you all updated.
--The Schoen kids, on behalf of Jim & Kathy
You don't know me, but your gofundme showed up on my wall today. Jim sounds like a wonderful man and awesome father. I will be donating later, when I have my card in hand. I want to give you some practical advice regarding all those medical bills which will continue to pour in. 1. Take care of the funeral and burial expenses (if there is no or inadequate life insurance) 2. Negotiate - you are paying cash, it's all negotiable. 3. Remember, the payment you offer to the hospital and physicians is more than they normally see in these circumstances. They will work with you. 4. Some providers will write off the balance in full if you apply for financial aid. Always Ask. I am an administrator in a physicians office, feel free to ask me anything regarding the financial side and God Bless you and your family.
Oh My so sorry to see this my dear friends and want to send prayers and love your way lots of memories with you guys love and thinking of you everyday god bless
I am so sorry for your loss. I am Ryan Ingersoll's mom, Sherry, and he has shared with me how wonderful your mom is and dad was. I have some information related to paying for medical bills that may benefit you. Please call me as soon as you are able to. My phone # is 715 864-8565.
To add to Marilynn's advice: apply for medical assistance. If you didn't qualify before, try again now.
So sorry for your loss & praying for your family. Jim was such a nice person & I enjoyed the small talk we had daily while loading & unloading the bus. Jim was a very caring person to our clients and will be dearly missed!