In April of 2017, at the young age of 60, Art was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. That began a 15-month physical and emotional rollercoaster ride for Art, his wife, Liz and their two sons.
When Art’s cancer was detected, hopes of surgical removal of the cancer were quickly replaced by the stark reality that due to the size and location of the tumor, surgical removal was not possible. In addition, because the cancer had already spread to the liver this was stage 4 colon cancer, further lowering his chances for survival. Emergency surgery was performed to bypass any blockage and he began rigorous, exhausting and expensive chemotherapy treatment.
Art received a series of drugs in an attempt to stop the spread of the cancer and to lessen his pain. But, chemotherapy drugs are toxic and each new drug took its toll on his body.
Ultimately, they were not effective in controlling the spread of the cancer and on August 28, 2018, Art and his family were given the devastating news that he was in end stage liver failure with an estimate of 2 weeks to a month to live.
During his illness Art showed incredible strength and courage as he faced his illness. At the time of his diagnosis he was unemployed, so there was no disability insurance to offset his medical costs. For 3 full days every 2 weeks he would receive chemo drugs intravenously. For Art, taking care of his family was everything. He pushed through every day as hard as he could.
Art never lost faith that he could beat this horrible disease, vowing to fight until he took his last breath. He refused to believe that he would die from this, even as he watched his father’s health decline (also from colon cancer) over a 5-month period ending in his father’s death on July 5, 2018. Now, less than 2 months after his father’s death, he is staring at his own.
Over the past year and a half, the medical bills have piled up, and as Art’s health has declined, so has the household income. Art’s wife, Liz, works as a teacher’s assistant for a school for children with cerebral palsy and will need to take a leave of absence from her job to care for him until his passing. The family will be left with staggering medical debt.
In addition, there are limited funds to pay for Art’s final expenses.
It is difficult to ask for help. However, at this point, the family has no other option. Any amount would be appreciated to help the Ernst family above all, celebrate Art’s life, plus pay his medical debt, stay in their family home and eventually move forward.
Thank you and please keep the family in your prayers as they move through this difficult transition.
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