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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friends Don’t Let Friends Fight Cancer Alone

This post was co-written by Denise Thompson


I’ve been putting off this post much longer than I should have. Considering my blog is supposed to be about “Life As We Know It” I truly feel horrible about not sharing this story sooner.

My brother-in-law Erich has colon cancer. In March of this year, he began experiencing lower back pain and intermittent abdominal pain. After a visit to the family doctor and an immediate colonoscopy, he was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 33. Let me repeat: AGE 33. After surgery to remove part of his colon and a large cancerous mass in his abdomen, he began chemotherapy and continues to undergo treatment.

I know so far this sounds pretty tragic, and it is. However, that’s not why I’m sharing this. I’m here sharing Erich’s story because it is an inspiring one. His attitude through this entire ordeal is nothing short of miraculous. Is it all sunshine and roses? Absolutely not. There are rough minutes, hours, even days as he deals with the side effects of his chemo treatments, the mounting medical bills, and the stress the comes as a result. The thing is, Erich is not letting his cancer define him. He wants people to see HIM, not his cancer. That strong desire has allowed him to enjoy life, despite the bumps in the road.

Erich is quite a character. At age 3 he began singing Elvis tunes which led to him impersonating the King at several venues and events across Fulton, Peoria, and Tazewell counties in Illinois as a teenager. After hanging up his jumpsuit he took a serious interest in acoustic guitar and country music and in his mid-twenties began performing as a one-man band. After much success, he decided to take his career to the next level by joining a band. Erich Thompson and the Stone Cold Cowboys performed numerous shows at venues across Illinois and Iowa. They earned the distinct honor of becoming the house band for 97.0 River Country and earned the privilege of opening shows for numerous Nashville recording artists including Dierks Bentley and Jason Aldean. In 2007 Erich decided to put sic on hold to focus on his family. Since his “retirement” Erich has renewed his love of pool and has become an avid horseshoe pitcher.

Despite the emotional and physical stress, Erich continues to work, play pool and throw shoes. He and his family are always on the go, living their lives, and not allowing cancer to define them. This family truly is an inspiration.

Many people with whom I’ve shared this story have asked how they can help. As you might imagine, the medical bills are piling up. Even with insurance, it has been very difficult for this family to keep up. To that end, there will be a benefit held this Saturday, October 2, 2010 that truly will be a family affair. There will be horseshoe, bags, and broomstick pool tournaments, a jump house and crafts for the kids, a DJ, karaoke, raffles, a live auction, a silent auction, a 50/50 drawing, and Erich’s former band will be getting back together for the night. I encourage each of you to check out the benefit website to see how you might be able to help.

Thank you and God Bless