As many of you know, it is hard to ask for help from others when needed. My brother, Russ, and his wife, Cheryl, are no different. For those of you who know them, know they never ask for help but are always quick to offer their help. Now they are in a position of needing help, yet still don’t feel right about placing their burdens on others. As a sister, this is a hard story to tell and I am not one to dig into specifics when it comes to medical issues, but the story ends like this - on June 13, 2017, Russ was told he had pancreatic cancer – stage 4 carcinomatous.
The last six months have been an uphill battle just to get to this diagnosis. Russ got sick in December, 2016. At first, he thought he just had a nasty flu bug. He had issues with keeping food down and lost a tremendous amount of weight, in addition to other symptoms. With what seems like a revolving door of doctor appointments, numerous tests and several trips to the E.R, it has been a long, hard quest to get answers. In the end, when you hear that dreaded “C” word, it is an answer nobody wants to hear.
I won’t go into all the gory details, but in March the doctor thought Russ had a blockage in his intestine and needed surgery to have it resected. When the surgeon got in there, there was no blockage - the intestine was fine, but it was kinked up and folded over itself. He straightened the intestine out and called it good. We all hoped that this was the answer and Russ would be on the mend. After surgery, Russ continued to have problems and lost even more weight. He had more doctor appointments and more tests.
At the end of April, he was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease, so he went gluten free. Even going gluten free didn’t help the symptoms.
During the month of May several things happened. He found out he had a blood clot in his calf and was put on blood thinners. He was tested for Wilson’s disease, which is rare, but his symptoms mirrored the disease. Wilson’s disease was ruled out. On May 25th he had an ultra sound on his gall bladder. It was during the ultra sound when they discovered a mass on his pancreas. By this time, Russ had lost more weight and he was jaundiced.
A biopsy and meeting with a cancer specialist was scheduled for June 6th. When meeting with the specialist, Russ and Cheryl were told to prepare for the worst. Russ had the biopsy and at the same time, a stint was placed in his bile duct in hopes to increase his liver function and clear the jaundice. The biopsy came back and revealed the mass was cancer. The specialist scheduled him for surgery for June 12th and he was pretty sure the mass could be removed using the Whipple method, which is an invasive procedure that includes removing other organs just to get to the pancreas and then reattaching those organs once the mass is removed. Half way through the Whipple procedure, the surgeon had to stop and close Russ up. He found the cancer was just not contained on the pancreas, but it had spread and there was spotting by his liver. Russ spent a week in the hospital and was sent home on June 16th to heal up before he begins chemotherapy on July 13th.
During the past 6 months, Russ has not been able to work and, therefore, has not had any income. They are trying to make it on Cheryl’s income alone, however, the medical bills and living expenses are mounting up and will continue to do so as Russ begins his chemotherapy.
A lot of you have asked me what you can do. If it is in your heart and you are able, financial donations would be greatly appreciated. We know that not everyone can help out financially and that is OK. There are many other ways you can help. Please share this with any and everyone. Send a friendly note, or make a quick visit to let them know you are standing with them in this fight. A text message, a phone call, or even dropping by to mow the lawn would lift their spirits! But most of all, your prayers and love are needed most!
"Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
I thank you, my family thanks you and I know Russ and Cheryl will forever be grateful!
100% of all donations will go straight to Russ and Cheryl to help out with all of their expenses, both medical and living.
- Miguel Martinez
- Lori Schiermeister
- Beverly Burkhalter
- Lynda Hall
- Paul Schneider
Organizer and beneficiary
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