Due to the exceedingly difficult year Joe’s insurance lapsed and he has not received any additional monetary support from the VA. Therefore, any other funds collected will be used to pay for outstanding medical bills and his funeral.
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Please check updates for most recent information. This journey has been long but he’s (we) are not done fighting!
Joe needs your help and he needs it now. His journey started this summer when he thought he hurt his back by taking a misstep. It wasn’t until early November that we received a call saying things were far worse than anyone imagined. The results of an MRI showed a tumor, and Joe was admitted to the hospital on November 16 to have a tracheotomy and feeding tube placed. He had lost so much weight by that point, but doctors hoped he’d gain some back if they sent him home to heal prior to his first surgery.On November 22, 2017 Joe had two major surgeries. The first surgery went through the back of his neck to remove some of the tumor and start a fusion of his neck. The second surgery went through the back of his ear to remove additional tumor. On November 24, he had his third major surgery. This time, they went in through his mouth to remove the remaining visible tumor and complete the fusion of the C1 through C5 bones. This left Joe unable to look left, right, up, or down without moving at the waist. Altogether, Joe underwent over 30 hours of surgery in just one week to fuse his neck and remove a Clivial Chordoma. Chordoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the bones of the skull base and spine. It is part of a group of malignant bone and soft tissue tumors called sarcomas. Fusing his neck was an absolute necessity due to the Chordoma tumor eating away his skull bone. His tumor was the size of a softball, and had literally eaten up his bone. When the surgeons removed it, they told us he was essentially decapitated. After the surgeries, it was unknown if he would ever walk, talk, or enjoy life again. Initially, he seemed to be on the mend. We thought the worst was behind us, but that wasn’t the case. After what doctors believe to be seizures, three of the plates from the fusion came free. Back into surgery he went on November 27. Thankfully, they were able to find enough bone to place the plate again and that surgery seems to have been successful.Joe is now up and walking with use of cane or walker. He sees a physical therapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist numerous times each week. His feeding tube is still in, but he’s starting to eat some soft solids like mashed potatoes and pudding. Only time will tell if the feeding tube will be removed. The next step in Joe’s journey is radiation treatments. Joe will need to travel out of state to the southwest suburbs of Chicago for these very specialized treatments over the course of eight weeks. This is a three-hour journey from home, but is the nearest location that offers this specific type of radiation.My big brother is a soldier. They build these guys strong, and he’s stronger than any I’ve ever met. If you know a soldier, you know they are proud. They do what they do because they love America and our freedom. Joe most certainly did not join the Army to make known the sacrifices or horrors he’s seen. Joe is a 29-year Army veteran that has deployed multiple times and was mobilized for tours to include Bosnia/Croatia, 9/11World Trade Center initial responder, and two tours in Iraq. He earned many medals, but best of all, he made and continues to make his parents and family very proud. Please, we are asking for donations to most immediately help provide accommodations while he travels out of state to receive eight weeks of radiation. Any additional monies received will go towards medical expenses and to purchase a newer vehicle equipped with special mirrors so he can drive once he is further along in his recovery. Please, if all you can give are your prayers and words of kindness, we would greatly appreciate them. Thank you and God Bless you all, and most of all Joe. With love,Jennifer
- Jade Wanger
- KATHRYN SACHS
- Julie Marie
Organizer and beneficiary
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