A year ago, Craig was a professional FO - First Officer flying for jetBlue commuting from Park City to Long Beach California. He has flown with jetBlue for over 14 years. He had opportunities to advance to captain, but he decided to wait for our daughter to finish high school before we relocated. Craig was instrumental in being a role model to our daughter Rylee, who is currently a student in the Aviation program at Utah Valley University following in his footsteps.
Hurricane Irma welcomed us to Fort Lauderdale when we relocated in September 2017. We took an emergency flight out to Puerto Rico between the two storms. We are so grateful for jetBlue’s compassion and generosity of capping all flights at $99 during that desperate time.
Every work flight, I look forward to my love Craig returning home safely.
On his last return flight home, the day before father’s day, Craig told me that he had pains in his stomach. When he arrived home, his eyes looked a little yellow. In the morning, they were bright yellow and his skin was orangish yellow. On our way to the beach, we made a quick stop at instacare, and surprisingly we were rerouted to the ER. He was there for 6 days and they found a cancerous tumor in his upper GI tract.
Whipple surgery was scheduled for July 16 to remove the tumor. The surgeons felt this intense surgery would be effective and that his cancer was curable because it was so small. During the three week wait for the surgery, Craig had the most positive, strongest attitude that he would beat this. We enjoyed being together each day, working out, walking on the beach, snorkeling and kayaking to keep his mind off the upcoming surgery.
July 16, 2018 had dual meaning for our family. Our daughter, Rylee, was getting her multi-engine certification and Craig was having major whipple surgery. At the same time, Rylee was in the air, successfully taking her skills test, and Craig was in a long 8 hour intense surgery. In Craig’s critical surgery parts of his intestinal tract, stomach, pancreas, duodenum, and the gallbladder were removed. After surgery, he was not sent to the ICU to be carefully monitored. After 4 short days and still spitting up black bile the hospital still released him to go home.
Less than 24 hours later, he became violently ill. I called 911 because he was non responsive and his skin was gray. They rushed him to ER where he aspirated feces bile into his lungs. His heartbeat flatlined. They revived him and put him on a ventilator - oxygen life support. He has been in critical care ICU for 5 weeks. His perfectly healthy lungs were destroyed, before his body even had time to heal from the surgery. Several chest tubes are in his lungs to drain the excessive fluid. The doctors informed me he needs a lung transplant. The hospital has been contacting hospitals all over the country. Craig is not qualified as a recipient because his cancer needs to be in remission for 5 years before they would accept him as a transplant recipient. We are searching for other options.
After several brain and body scans, all other organs are fully functioning. He is fully conscious and aware. He has a strong heart, mind, and soul. He is loving, kind, young, physically fit and positive. He is a true friend to everyone!
Currently, I, along with family and friends, are praying for his every breath, literally. Everyday my time is spent with him. I am reaching out to others, who want to show their love and support for Craig Hellmers needs.
Craig Hellmers, I love you more, we are going to grow old together.
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