Disabled U.S. Army Veteran, Lifelong Mainer Battles Stage IV Cancer
GoFundMe Campaign below. Please note you may have to copy and paste the URL. http://www.gofundme.com/grgfs8
John Damon was born and raised in Buckfield, a close-knit community located in the rural foothills of Western Maine. Aside from time spent overseas stationed in Germany while serving in the U.S. Army, John has always lived in Maine.
Not long after returning from Germany, John met his future bride. John and Dot were married in 1975 and raised three daughters, Jessica, Jodi and Angela, in their Buckfield home, built nearly four decades ago. In the early 1990s, John’s twin uncles, elderly and no longer able to live on their own, joined the household. John provided not only a loving home but around-the-clock care for his uncles for more than a decade.
John and Dot’s family grew by six between 2000 and 2010: Brooke (14), Olivia (11), Gavin (11), Jack (6), Ellie (5) and Jacob (4). From adventures atop “Blueberry Mountain” to endless LEGO constructions and card games, Dot and John have spent countless hours making memories with and loving their six grandbabies.
In August of 2014, after struggling with unexplained symptoms, including major weight loss, for several months, Togus (Maine’s VA medical center) diagnosed John with stage IV adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. Unfortunately, it had taken several months of appointments at the VA hospital, innumerous phone calls and much frustration and advocacy, to ultimately discover the cause of his symptoms was, in fact, cancer.
In September of 2014, in an effort to make certain the VA’s diagnosis and recommended treatment were correct, John sought an out-of-pocket second opinion at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, a world leader in cancer research and treatment. Dana-Farber confirmed Togus’ diagnosis. Thus began the rigmarole of tests, appointments, lots more phone calls, and the preauthorization process to receive treatment closer to home.
Detailed research by John’s family revealed promising alternative treatments for cancer, which could be used in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy. While anecdotal evidence and individual case reports show benefit from using such treatments, they, like his second opinion, remain an out-of-pocket expense.
In late October, after much ado, John was at finally able to begin his first round of chemotherapy, which lasted about six weeks. Though he tolerated the chemotherapy quite well, John continued to lose weight, eventually becoming unable to swallow even liquids. Consequently, in December of 2014, John was admitted to Central Maine Medical Center for five days, where it was determined that his inability to swallow had been caused by growth of his esophageal tumor.
There was, however, some very positive news. While the tumor had grown, scans showed no evidence of metastasis; the cancer had not spread to other areas of his body. This is a true blessing and renews hope for John and his family that returning to better health is possible.
After discussing options with the fantastic staff at CMMC, John underwent an esophageal stent procedure to allow him to swallow liquids and surgery to place a feeding tube. Together, these interventions should not only halt his weight loss but allow him to gain back some of the ground he has lost. In mid-December, John will begin radiation, a new chemotherapy regimen, and will continue with supportive holistic treatments.
This GoFundMe campaign has been created to allow friends, family and community members a venue to assist John and Dot and a mechanism by which to communicate updates. A lightened financial burden means we bless John and his family with one less thing to worry about it, allowing them to focus on that which is most imperative: fighting cancer. Donations may be used to offset any and all of the following:
LOST INCOME: Dot is John’s primary support person, and she is currently unable to work much.
SECONDARY HEAT SOURCE: John and Dot’s aging home currently has only wood heat.
PLOWING: John and Dot live on a private road (4/10 mile long), which John has maintained and plowed singlehanded for decades. Plowing is an arduous task and may become difficult during treatment.
SPARE ROOM: John and Dot’s daughter, Jessica, and her husband are working on a room in their home for Dot and John should it be needed due to illness.
OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES: Medical bills not covered by the VA and alternative cancer treatments.
If you’d like to send a card or note of encouragement to John and Dot, please see below for their mailing address.
John & Dot Damon
P.O. Box 132
Buckfield, ME 04220
Your warm thoughts and prayers, kind words, well wishes and donations are deeply and sincerely appreciated.