Saving Uncle Eric

(above photo, Eric and nurse at Mayo Clinic;
more photos at the end)

Some live a lifetime free of serious illnesses where the common cold or a stomach bug is as bad as it gets.  But for others, the better part of their lives are burdened with more doctor visits, medical expenses, and nightmare diagnoses than one family should have to bear.

So is the case with my Uncle Eric. Back in 1999, just one year after marrying his beautiful bride Amanda, he was diagnosed with viral meningitis that nearly took his life.  While suffering temporary blindness, he spent several days battling a virus that many succumb to.   Fast forward 13 years and he’s diagnosed with skin cancer. In 2014 he started his battle with kidney cancer at Mayo Clinic and suffered a 40% loss of his kidney from a partial nephrectomy. 

Today, he is currently battling his 2nd round, stage 4, Glioblastoma-brain cancer.  They initially discovered this in 2017 when he had a double grand mal seizure.  After battling kidney cancer, through Mayo Clinic, he had a good introduction to some of the doctors in Rochester.  They monitored the brain tumor which seemed to be stagnant.  The hope was that it may have been scar tissue from the viral meningitis back in 1999.  However in August of 2017, it began to grow aggressively. He was in surgery 3 days later, which was followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Two and a half years later it has started to grow again. He is now facing another surgery with more radiation and chemotherapy.  The Mayo Clinic has a few trials with injections that help a person’s immunity battle its own cancer. These are expected to be very promising for Glioblastomas, but due to his prior kidney cancer he does not qualify for these trials under the normal trial guidelines.  Insurance will not cover trials of this sort. Though Mayo will allow him to participate, the financial burden rests solely on Eric and Amanda’s shoulders. Between Viral Meningitis, Kidney Cancer, Brain Cancer, Grand Mal Seizures, and other minor surgery’s….he has been dealing with doctors and medical expenses for 20 years. 

For 22 years of marriage Eric has worked brilliantly to provide a full and beautiful life for his wife Amanda. In the blink of an eye, their life’s work and their futures together are being eaten away, not just by the disease, but by medical expenses. With the aggressiveness of this brain cancer, they will likely be operating again in the next month, followed by radiation and hopefully these trials.

With this reality diagnosis of a returning stage 4 Glioblastoma, he is trying to put his affairs in order for his wife. Things like paying off his mortgage, covering medical expenses, and getting his will and final arrangements in order are his first priority for taking care of his wife in the days and years to come. In addition, he is now faced with the financial burden of these trials all while staying positive and keeping the will to fight for her and those that love him. 

My Uncle has always been one to help others and give back to the community.  He started out volunteer firefighting forest fires in Montana in college.  For over 10 years he has served with Meals on Wheels.  In addition he has donated time and money to various other organizations like the Special Olympics in Minnesota and Freedom Farms.  I hope and pray we can help Eric and Amanda with the burden of at least some of the medical expenses they’ve accrued and the mountainous expenses yet to come.  (Oh, and his 20 year term life insurance, they set up shortly after being married, expires in just 2 years. And of course with his medical history they won’t extend and no other company will cover him!) 

I want to say thank you, in advance, for your generosity and prayers for Eric and Amanda!

Eric and Amanda and their pup Chester




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Jessica Hawkinson Palmer 
Savage, MN
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