Gerhard & Kristen Gross Fundraiser
Friends of Gerhard and Kristen,
Last Christmas, Gerhard was given 12 months to live with stage 4 stomach cancer — a devastating diagnosis only 4% of people survive. Determined that that 4% would be him, he made immediate changes to his diet, started meditation, yoga, and practiced every holistic treatment he could in addition to chemotherapy.
After six rounds of treatment, a CT scan and laparoscopic exploration couldn’t find signs of the cancer outside his stomach anywhere. His doctors said this was miracle. One more round of chemo, and they set a date four weeks later (time needed to recover from chemo) to remove Gerhard’s stomach, a drastic but potentially curative surgery.
May 15 was to be a major milestone, and instead, it was the start of a tough road. Once the surgeon opened him from his breastbone to his belly button, she detected tumor nodularity studding Gerhard’s peritoneum, one of this cancer’s most complicated metastases, which comes with a terrible survival rate. They had no choice but to close him back up without removing his stomach, then hope it didn’t advance further while he recovered from his incision. He was re-staged back to 4, and more chemotherapy was scheduled. Once again, his treatment was effective, and he was soon back to feeling great, eating well, and gaining weight.
A new CT scan in September again raised hopes — they could see no signs of cancer whatsoever! It was incredible news, hard to believe but amazing nonetheless. They stopped chemo again with plans to continue a maintenance chemo program four weeks later.
But once again, when given even the slightest window, Gerhard’s aggressive cancer found a way to rise up. Gerhard found himself in the ER with a dangerous small-bowel blockage in September, and again in November. Scans to see what was going on showed that the cancer had advanced and since then has not shown any signs of real change, even while on his second line of chemotherapy.
Our hope now lies with a clinical trial. Gerhard is helping to test an immunotherapy that blocks the pathways of the cancer's communication and ability to spread. At the very least, he is helping doctors and scientists improve the odds for people diagnosed in the future. Since his cancer is hereditary, there is a 50/50 chance that his son, Gerhard may also be affected. Best case scenario, he will get his disease under control and managed for more time together. This treatment started November 15. The patient on the trial the longest so far has experienced durable results for over 17 months with no known side effects—results we hope to see for Gerhard too.
A big part of Gerhard's motivation to beat this devastating disease is his family, which includes his wife, Kristen, and his 18-month-old son, Gerhard the fourth. Most of all, he wants to continue to be a husband and the father his son needs for as long as he can.
To devote the energy he needs to his healing and this trial, Gerhard has taken a leave of absence from work and we are raising money for him and his family for treatment, travel to treatment, and to ease the burden of financial stresses that comes with this difficult time.