The memorial service for Russ will be Saturday, February 17, 2018, at 3:00 at Kress Memorial Church, 746 Formosa Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789. After the service, please join Russ's family in the fellowship hall to pay your respects and share memories. Food and refreshments will be served.
Russell (Rusty) Anderson was a wonderful, loving husband, father, and son. He left behind his wife of over 18 years and a smart, beautiful 16-year-old daughter. He also left his mother, two brothers, a sister-in-law, two nephews and a niece-in-law. He became a friend to almost everyone he met. He was always willing to go out of his way to help anyone. To quote a couple posts on his Facebook page: "Russ will be missed by so many; he was a good man with a unique spirit, wacky sense of humor and such a kind heart. " and "You don't meet Russ, you experience him!"
Russ worked almost 20 years for Xerox. He left Xerox in 2009 to begin his own lawn care business. He started with a few friends as customers. Because of his hard work combined with the beautiful job he did, referrals quickly grew his business. He kept it small enough that he could do all the work himself and be done for the day by 3:00 to pick up his daughter from school. Throughout all his time fighting, he never stopped working. Following "brain" surgery in October 2016, he took off the day after he was released from the hospital, but the next day he was back at it. He had work restrictions for 4-6 weeks, but his brother did the work while he watched from his truck. For the last year, he had a friend working with him to make it a little easier on him.
Here is the timeline for his fight against his cancer. On November 30, 2015, he was told he had cancer that started in his right tonsil and spread into his left and right neck lymph nodes. The type of cancer is similar to cervical cancer in that it is caused by the HPV virus and is recently showing up in men in their late 40s or early 50s. He underwent radiation treatments weekdays for a total of 30 treatments and the tumors were gone…or so we thought. In August 2016, a new tumor was found in the Ethmoid sinus and surrounding area. He underwent a 6-hour surgery that removed the tumor but also went close enough to the brain that it caused a cerebral spinal fluid leak. The leak was patched, but for 4-6 weeks he was not allowed to bend, pick up anything over 5 pounds, or over exert himself. It appears he was cancer free, but in November 2016, a scan showed tumors in various lymph nodes in his neck and chest, and a couple in his lungs, none of which were there in August. He immediately started an aggressive 18-week chemotherapy regimen that began with a week in the hospital so vitals and liver function could be monitored. All the tumors disappeared except the ones in his lungs. He proceeded with immunotherapy which helped slow the growth of the lung tumors, but did not stop them. In August 2017, he was going to begin chemo again, but discovered an immunotherapy clinical trial that proved successful in other men with the same cancer. It seemed to be working, but after a few months a scan showed a new growth in the lungs which made him no longer eligible for the clinical trial. He was going to discuss starting chemo again, when scan results showed a new tumor wrapped around his optic nerve and invading the surrounding area. He began another 30-session round of radiation on that tumor just before Christmas 2017. Things were going along fine until mid-January 2018. Bruised ribs from a fall and an infection from a scratch on his arm seemed to be ganging up to cause difficulty breathing. On the morning of Wednesday, January 24, his radiation doctor in Winter Park sent him and his wife across the street to the Winter Park Memorial Hospital ER. In the ER, results of a CT scan showed that since immunotherapy treatments were stopped in mid-November, the tumors in his lungs multiplied at a very aggressive rate and had completely taken over his lungs. The pulmonary doctor covering the ER admitted him to the ICU and said he would likely not make it through the night. He continued fighting, but was moved to hospice Friday afternoon. After a very long, brave fight, he passed peacefully at 3:55 am on Sunday, January 28, 2018.
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