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Tom Priest Medical and Living Expense Fundraiser

$9,125raised of $10,000 goal

Organizer: Marianne Priest Beneficiary: Tom Priest

Stage 4 kidney cancer

This fundraiser is closed
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Fundraiser Details

Tom's Story

In May of 2012, during Tom's routine physical, it was found that he had lost some weight.  This, along with a couple other issues, led the doctor to order a chest Xray, which showed some abnormalities.  This then led to a CT scan which showed a mass in Tom's kidney.  After many tests, it was finally diagnosed as stage 4 metastatic renal cell carcinoma...aka kidney cancer.

When diagnosed, it had already spread to Tom's liver and lymph system.  We traveled to University of Michigan hospital to confer with a renal cell expert who confirmed the diagnosis.  We were told Tom's case was incurable but treatable. And this doctor agreed with the treatment proposed in Traverse City.

Finally, in July 2012, Tom began taking a specialty drug (chemo therapy of sorts) called Sutent.  It is one of only 4 drugs used to treat this type of cancer. The way it works is to cut off the blood supply to the existing tumors so they stop growing and stop the growth of new tumors.

With blood work, oncology visits every 6 weeks, Ct scans every 12 weeks to compare tumor size, and a lot of hard work to remain healthy and positive, Tom made it through the summer, fall and winter of 2012 with no new growth.

The drug has many side effects which Tom struggles with on a daily basis, but as long as the drug is doing it's job, he continues to deal with all that comes his way, with very few complaints.

The side effects leave him very fatigued, hoarse from a constant cough, and dealing with a lot of GI upset just to name a few. 

Tom is a landscape gardener and the main bread winner for our family.  He was able to work last year by not taking any new large jobs and keeping his regular clients.  He hopes to do the same this year once spring comes.  Our income was much less than years before.  Being self employed, we pay for our own health insurance which has a very high premiums and deductible.  Medical bills continue to mount and although we are managing, the fear of losing the health insurance if income drops is always a worry. 

Focusing on being positive and healing is difficult when the concerns for mounting bills is always hanging over your head.

Any money raised via this fundraiser will be used to pay off existing and mounting medical bills,  to help cover the cost of health insurance premiums and for other related living expenses as time goes by.

Until I can get photos uploaded here, this is a link to Tom's 'caring bridge' page where you can see pictures and read more.

Peace and Blessings,
The Tom Priest Family

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by Marianne Priest
We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support shown to us at yesterdays benefit golf outing, dinner and silent auction!! So many folks worked so hard planning it and the turn out was amazing. Weather could not have been more perfect! Which for memorial day in northern Michigan is a blessing! We are forever grateful for not only the financial support but the many cards and beautiful notes written.. this is a wonderful community and we are blessed to live here and have such incredible friends..
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by Marianne Priest
on may 3rd, we found out that the drug tom has been taking since 7/12 (sutent) had stopped working.  the latest ct scan showed growth of the existing tumors and a new tumor developing in his left lung.  he had also lost some weight dut to the loss of appetite from the drug side effects.  because of all this, he had to stop taking the drug and has now been off of it for 2 weeks.  his appetite has returned and he has gained some weight back already since may 3rd and he is feeling better without the drug running through his system but it is time to take the next step.

today, we met with the oncologist who had conferred with the RCC expert at UM hospital who we saw last summer.  there is another drug tom will be trying in hopes to stop the growth of new tumors.  it is called "afinitor" and once we hear from the insurance company and pharmacy as to whether or not it will be coverd and how much, tom will start taking it....but first he will be finishing the huge spring planting of annuals for all his clients and mulching those who need that.  he wants to get this work done before he starts a new drug, as he is feeling pretty good now and has no idea what will happen once he starts something new.

the doctor did tell us that he will let us know when he feels we have reached that 'line in the sand' so to speak, when we should just stop and let nature take it's course, but NOW is NOT the time!
so, we are on hold for a bit but reassured that waiting 10 days to 2 weeks is not a problem.

it has been a tough 10 days but now we have a plan for the next step.

thank you again for your thoughts, prayers and donations as tom continues down this uncertain and scary road.

and thanks to anyone and everyone who is participating in the fundraising benefit on may 27th!!

tom and marianne
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by Marianne Priest

Tom has begun working this week..he and Michael are happy that the weather has finally begun to show signs of spring.

because tom tires easily now, he and michael are starting slowly and will work up to a FULL day.  tom is pretty tired when he is done with the day and comes home to rest awhile but he is SO happy to be outside again, doing what he loves..

we thank god for michael's willingness to stay here and help with the work so tom can continue.  we owe him so much!  he should be off finishing school somewhere or working in something he loves, but for now he has decided that this is where he needs to be, helping his dad as long as he can. 

may 3rd will be our next appointment at the oncologist's to compare the most recent CT scan (last week) with the ones previous.  as you know, this is always a scary appt. but tom is confident that all will be well and stable.  i will post results as we receive them.

we want to thank everyone for thoughts, prayers, donations...we also want to thank all those wonderful folks working on the benefit for tom on may are terrific friends..

tom and marianne
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by Marianne Priest
After 3 phone calls to the oncologist, we finally got through to them that Tom needed help with the ongoing, almost constant cough, brought on by the 'chemo drug' he has to take.  There is obviously no real way of knowing what to do for it but the doctor agreed to try an inhaler and see if that might give him some relief.  Sad that the patient has to investigate and come up with suggestions for the doctor! grrrrr.  but, all that aside, we picked up the inhaler and Tom has used it this evening.  I don't want to get too excited too quickly BUT, it seems that it has helped already.  Fingers crossed that it really will help!!

Our huge thanks to all those who have recently contributed to our fund raising efforts.  We can never thank ALL of you enough for your kind words and generosity!!

love and blessings,
Marianne and Tom, John and Michael
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by Marianne Priest
We continue to be touched by the kindness of so many people.
As a winter storm blows around us tonight, we are warmed by your generosity
and concern.

Tom is fatigued by the afternoon after doing snow removal and spending a few hours
in his shop, keeping the woodstove stoked but he has yet to start working in his clay.
I still hope he will find the strength to do it one day soon.

Thanks again to everyone for your generosity!

~~marianne and tom
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by Marianne Priest
We are humbled and overwhelmed with the kindness of friends and strangers over the past 36 hours.
Your generous donations to our medical fund have touched us deeply and we will put every penny to good use. 

Many thanks to all who have contributed thus far. We know times are hard for everyone and we can never repay your kindness. 

I have sent out numerous prints and books today and have more to send tomorrow!

~~marianne and tom
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