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Benefit Sunday for cancer-stricken NR resident Reese

BETTER DAYS — Darrin Reese and his sister, Diana Weller, as they appear on his Facebook page.


By ELI LUTGENS

Contributing Writer

A benefit for Darrin Reese will be held on this Sunday, April 8, at New Richland City Hall. Donations will be sought to help cover medical bills associated with treatment. Breakfast will be served by the New Richland Lions Club. 

Reese has been an active volunteer in the community. For years, Darrin has volunteered with the Ellendale food shelf and has worked in the community helping anyone in need. It is now time for the NRHEG community to return the favor. 

Reese was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on Feb. 28. This form of cancer is aggressive and has no cure. It is however, treatable. With six rounds of chemotherapy, every 28 days, he can go into remission. Currently in stage two, if the chemotherapy is successful, Reese could go into remission for anywhere from six months to 10 years. 

There are two kinds of this particular cancer, one curable, the other not. Unfortunately, this form is the bad one. This disease will eventually overtake Reese; every flare-up will need to be treated until it is no longer possible. Remission is the best hope. This is a life-long illness. Even after remission, Reese will still need to go to the doctor every six months for CAT and PET scans alternating between the two, for the rest of his life.

The cancer was discovered because of a trip to the doctor for different reasons. Reese was feeling unwell and after his first visit it was discovered that he was suffering from cancer in one of his kidneys. This is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, but it was also not the only thing wrong with him. The doctors discovered his lymph nodes were enlarged and they made the decision to remove them. It was here where more cancer was discovered. What followed was a painful bone marrow test to determine the severity and stage of cancer.

After multiple extended trips to the hospital, one week at United Methodist Hospital left Reese with a bill of over $2,500. He has also been to Mayo where he was part of a research program to try and find more treatments and look into ways to discover a possible cure. Wit the relentless blood taking, sick feeling, and continual side effects, Reese needs all the help he can get from the community.

“I’ve felt a lot of support from the community,” he said. “It leaves me really humbled seeing the way people are treating me after my diagnosis.”

The first round of chemotherapy will be on April 11. His first session will be an eight-hour treatment. Typical chemo patients only undergo one or two-hour treatments, but due to this aggressive form, much more is needed. Following the first treatment, the succeeding treatments will each be four hours long. After six treatments, the doctors will determine if more chemo is needed or if radiation therapy will be used as a last resort. 

One question Reese finds himself being asked a lot is, “Are you afraid to die?”

“It’s strange to think of a world without me,” he said. “All of a sudden you’re gone, but the world keeps spinning. Except now I wouldn’t be a part of it. Everyone knows they’re going to die, but facing my own mortality, it kind of changes my perspective about everything.”

Another question he gets asked is what is the worst part about this difficult time?

“The worst part is, trying to eat,” he said. “My doctor tells me I need to eat, and I describe it like this. If someone puts a burger in front of you and tells you to eat, but if you do, you’ll be in immense pain for six hours going in and out of the bathroom, unable to keep anything down, would you eat it? No.”

Other side effects include fatigue, hot and cold sweats and extreme reactions to food, causing an extremely sick feeling. As well, this form of cancer is so aggressive, Reese will lose all of his hair, including eyebrow and facial hair. 

“I’m hoping the benefit goes well, it will help a lot,” he said. “One of my biggest fears is going into huge debt.”

One quote Darrin saw that resonated with him was something he read on the Internet: “It’s amazing how mankind will spend his health to make money. Then spend his money to try and restore his health.”

People from the NRHEG community know all to well the struggles of life. Health problems, more specifically, cancer, has been an all too often fate of members of this community.

“It always felt like, you know, that it wasn’t going to be me, that it would be someone else,” said Reese. “It really makes you think about what’s important in your life. The little things really don’t bother me anymore. I really hope no one else every finds themselves in my situation. It’s no fun.”

 

If you can’t make it to the benefit on Sunday, there are other ways people can help. A “Go-Fund Me” page has been started where anyone interested in helping can donate. The link can be found on Reese’s Facebook page and will also be found at this website: https://www.gofundme.com/darin039s-cancer-treatment. Every little bit helps. Please spread the word.

 

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