In case you need a recap—In June/July of 2019, Jim was diagnosed with non-squamous tonsil cancer (aka head and neck cancer). The rapid onset demanded urgent action and he entered treatment immediately. What followed was a grueling year-plus of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that hollowed him out and whittled away at him. Jim was unable to work his barista job at Starbucks and unable to summon the strength or the focus to get any real writing done. It was only thanks to the help of many friends and the donations to the 2019 GoFundMe that Jim and his wife Tessa were able to make it through.
Cancer hadn’t finished with him, unfortunately. Yes, he was finally pronounced cancer-free toward the end of 2020, but the treatment had left him with long-term side effects, including a heart problem that may never go away and difficulty swallowing that has contributed to his continued diminished state. Finally, however, Jim was cleared to return to work at Starbucks. Around the same time, the mental fog often caused by chemo and radiation began to clear and he was able to focus on writing again, at last. As 2020 came to a close, Jim and Tessa decided to move from Massachusetts to a spot in rural Maine that would provide more room at a significant savings.
Then...in the first week of 2021, mere days after completing their move, Tessa and Jim both caught Covid-19. To everyone’s relief, Jim was asymptomatic (had he developed symptoms in his post-cancer condition, he might well not have survived). Tessa was not so fortunate. Her symptoms led to almost immediate hospitalization and to SIX WEEKS in the Intensive Care Unit, in isolation and on a feed of pure oxygen, without which she was unable to breathe. Attempts to get the virus under control were unsuccessful until, during her final week, a new doctor stepped in with a very aggressive treatment plan that finally saw positive results.
While Jim was lucky enough to avoid symptoms, once Tessa was diagnosed he was forced to stay home from his Starbucks job—the primary source of their income at this time. He had to self-isolate for a week and then get tested—and then wait for the results. When his test came back positive, that led to ten additional days under quarantine, a total of three weeks where he could not work.
During his cancer odyssey, despite the donations from so many friends and well-wishers, Jim had burned through most of his savings and borrowed significantly from several close friends and family members. The move to Maine had eaten the rest, and now...well, here we are.
Jim tells us he hates the idea of asking for more help, but he is taking the advice of his friends and recognizing the situation for what it is. We are all aware that so many are struggling, but if you are able to contribute anything at all, Jim and Tessa will be forever grateful. Thank you so much in advance.
- Andrew Bockhorst
- Jason LeBlanc
- STEPHEN MOORE
- Kealan Burke
- Mark Eshbaugh
Organizer and beneficiary
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