My name is Katie Rookstool and I grew up in Maryland with a wonderful family. Every family experiences trials and tribulations, and ours was not spared the heartache.
My dad, Bill, was diagnosed with esthesioneuroblastoma in 2004. We were told this is a very rare form of sinus cancer and less than 2000 cases have ever been reported worldwide. We were blessed to be in the right place at the right time and renowned ENT surgeons were right around the corner at Johns Hopkins Hospital. My dad had to undergo a 12-hour surgery at the hands of ENT surgeon Dr. Wayne Koch and neurosurgeon Dr. Tamargo, as the tumor located in his ethmoid sinus had infiltrated the cribiform plate of his skull and he required a craniotomy. Recovery was long and difficult, marked by a cerebrospinal fluid leak requiring an emergency trip back to the operating room within the first 48 hours, 11 days in the neurological ICU following the initial surgery, 42 treatments of radiation, and two hospital stays in the ensuing 10 months for infections due to his weakened immune system. We almost lost him to complications, but the ordeal was worth it, because it left my dad cancer-free! I was 12, and my two younger brothers were only 4 and 8.
Twelve years have gone by, and as life goes, they have not been without challenges and struggles. Divorce, layoffs, and financial stresses brought my dad to where he is now, working as a self-emplyed home improvements contractor and without health insurance. He has remained cancer-free for the last dozen years until he noticed a firm lump growing on the right side of his neck over the last 6-8 months. A biopsy in Dr. Koch's office in October came back positive for recurrence of the same rare cancer he had already beat once: esthesioneuroblastoma. A CT scan revealed a mass in my dad's left sphenoid sinus and another metastasized mass in a lymph node on the right side of his neck. All he could say to me as he told me the news was "I don't want to have to go through this again, I already did it once."
First things first, he needs insurance. He is in the process of enrolling but premiums will cost around $500-600/month with high deductibles estimated to be up to $8,000. This will include copays, surgery, post-op visits, and medications. He will need to undergo surgery in January 2017 to remove both of his tumors, after his insurance takes effect. This will leave him unable to work for at least 4 weeks and he does not receive benefits, paid days off or short term disability in his line of work. There is also the possibility that he will need repeat radiation or chemotherapy, but we will not know until after his initial surgery. I would like to raise $30,000 to cover his insurance premiums for one year, deductibles, copays, and basic living expenses for one month while he is out after surgery. It is very important that he is able to cover his rent and other basic expenses while he is recovering so that he and my brothers can keep the place where they live. These funds will need to be raised by mid-January, and he has already accrued $1,000 in medical bills for his biopsy, appointments, and CT scan. We are already drowning in the financial stress that cancer can bring and raising money would alleviate that concern so that we can focus on his battle with cancer.
I moved to South Carolina in 2010, but have a very close relationship with my family. My dad is one of the most important people in the world to me, and it breaks my heart seeing him go through the same cancer a second time under more stressful circumstances. Your donations will pay for his medical bills and take an indescribable load off of our family. We believe first and foremost that the Lord will heal my dad and believe in the power of prayer, and we are leaning heavily on God to carry our family through this trial. We know that money can not only be a source of anguish but can also open doors, and surgery is expensive. My brothers Mike (21) and Will (16) and I thank you all in advance for your generosity and the part you will play in helping our dad fight this battle a second (and hopefully last) time. God bless you!!