Choose ~ Breathing or Talking - a choice you should never have to make in this life, especially for someone who was a voice/piano major and a tenor vocalist. Anyone who knows Jeff probably knows him from singing in church, in college, at special events or even at our wedding, 27 years ago. They also know him as the life of every party or conversation, always joking, playing and making others smile, especially his kids! Now he was forced to give up his voice, a huge part of his identity, just to keep breathing. You never ever really think this will happen to you or your family, but that was the scenario on the afternoon of October 3, 2014, as we listened to the results of Jeff's scans. I had insisted he go in for some tests, as he could hardly breathe and after several weeks of not getting better I thought he may have pneumonia. I didn’t want to believe what we were hearing. They told us he had Stage 3 Hurthle Cell Carcinoma, a very rare and aggressive thyroid cancer that had metastasized to his neck, chest, lungs and into his trachea.
Jeff had now come out of remission after a very long and complicated thyroidectomy surgery back in 2011. The tumor had penetrated through his trachea which was causing his breathing to be blocked. The hospital staff was insisting on immediate admission to perform a full tracheostomy. Otherwise, he would not have been able to breathe in as little as a few days, so we were more than thankful for the timing. Jeff was partially in denial and, of course, struggling with the thought of not being able to talk and whether he wanted to live that way. I pleaded with him for the sake of our children; they are all very close to their dad and are just barely young adults. He can still contribute a lot to their lives as his faculties are all there, even without talking. All three of our beautiful children, Jeffery (22), Joshua (20) and Jenna (18) rushed to the hospital to see their dad before the surgery. This was the last time they would hear him talk, say their names, sing or laugh with them, at least for now. Just typing this is so emotionally painful.
During that month of October, I would be living in a hospital room at Baylor Scott and White in Temple, Texas with Jeff as he went through three surgeries. The first, to get his breathing stabilized with a trach tube, the second, for a PEG feeding tube for nutrition and the third, double scope surgery. The scope surgery was to determine if any further surgeries could be done to debulk some of the masses, specifically in the trachea and neck. We started in ICU and did not leave the hospital until late-October. During that month we interacted with 3 surgical teams, 11 ICU nurses, 17 floor RN’s, 14 respiratory therapists, 2 charge nurses, 12 CNA’s, a pain management specialist, a trachea specialist, 3 case managers and 3 dieticians. At the end of the month we were on our own with a 12-15 month journey ahead and recognizing that Jeff was now disabled. We had incurred over $100,000 of uncovered medical bills, a new monthly trach tube supply bill in excess of $1,000 per month [not covered by insurance] and very costly nutritional regimens.
The nutritional approach is his only option for fighting this very rare and aggressive cancer. It does not respond to chemotherapy or radiation and so a strict nutritional regimen under NCRF (National Cancer Research Foundation, www.NCRF.org) and other proven nutritional therapies are in motion to try and shrink the tumors until they can possibly do some surgeries. We had opted in for the feeding tube to assist with the intake of the nutrition, as the tumors in the neck are pressing against the esophagus making it very hard to swallow. They attempted one surgery in his trachea; however, the surgeons soon discovered Jeff was at risk of bleeding out and having his trachea removed so they did not proceed further with the surgery. This would have been a very morbid surgery, as the result would have put the trach tube very low in his chest making it extremely difficult to breathe. So, for now, he must get the nutritional intake, at very high daily levels, to shrink the tumors.
It is really like a bad dream that I would not wish on anyone or any family. Jeff’s emotional state is up and down, hope followed by depression and everything in-between. Overall, we are all trying to stay positive as we know our attitude and state of mind play a huge role in the healing process. To take on this difficult journey requires an entire family to pull together and our family has been amazing! They have contributed their time, meals and financial aid but I cannot ask them to take on the entire financial burden for none are in a position to do so. I personally never thought I would be asking for help through a fundraiser like this for a personal situation. However, I will not allow my pride to get in the way of asking for that help so that Jeff can get the medical help he needs, implement the alternative nutritional regimen and not be under stress worrying about our financial needs. I will do whatever it takes to give my children an opportunity to be with their dad for as long as possible. I am thankful for sites and communities like this that make this an option.
I extend a heartfelt thank you for taking the time to read Jeff’s story. If you are able, our family would sincerely appreciate your donation of any amount. If not, we completely understand but ask that you please share Jeff’s page on your wall and ask your friends to do the same. All donations will go toward current and ongoing medical costs, monthly trach tube supplies, nutritional regimens and other items needed to keep him comfortable and stress free as well as financial needs to maintain basic necessities. It is going to be a long and tough journey and we appreciate all support, including prayers, as we have faith that God knows our needs, physically, emotionally and financially and will provide. I want so much for my children to have their dad as young adults [and later] with whom they can share their life experiences. Jeff is only 52. He will be 53 on the 26th of November, sharing a birthday with our only daughter, Jenna, and I pray he will have many more with us. Be Blessed and a Blessing! Lisa, Jeffery, Joshua and Jenna
Sending Check Donations: If you would like to donate through check form, you can mail to:
Jeff Butler Cancer Fight,
c/o United Hertiage Credit Union,
301 Mays Crossing Drive, Round Rock, TX 78664
Payable to Jeff Butler
Note Section: Account No: 8810003282790
The Routing Number for UHCU is: 314977188
Or directly to:
Butler Family, 16809 Tortoise Street, Round Rock, Texas 78664; made payable to Jeff Butler,
We are also partnering with the Project10 Challenge - A Healthy Lifestyle Change Platform, in several ways as a fundraiser, in any of these three ways, a percentage will go back to Jeff’s fund.
1) You can take the Project10 Challenge toward a healthier lifestyle for yourself (Healthy Fast Food) and a percentage will be donated back to him; (www.ChallegeForJeff.org)
2) Jeff is using this nutritional line as a part of his regimen, so the Balance Kit, Shape Kit, Fuel Kit or Crunch Kit are all items he is using and that you can order and have shipped to him at the above address if you like. Go to, www.ChallengeForJeff.org select, “Accept The Challenge”, Set up a customer account and Ship the kit of your choice to Jeff. You can do a one-time order, or select autoship, where you have immediate control in managing.
3) You can support Project10 Kids - the largest initiative to fight childhood obesity by donating healthy meals (Shake Mix, Nutra Cookies or ViCrunch Cereal) to kids fighting obesity, diabetes, malnutrition, etc… and you can choose the charity. (www.Project10KidsInitiative.org)
- Vi Corp
- Nick & Ashley Sarnicola
- Kari Dottellis
- Jeni Murphy