Roseville man refuses to let cancer defeat him
It’s the question with no easy answer: Should a person with a life-threatening disease and dire prognosis forgo additional treatment or keep going until all possible options have been exhausted?
It’s a decision only a person in that situation can make.
Roseville resident and former youth sports coach Tom Wieser, who has battled colorectal cancer since 2004 that metastasized to his lungs, keeps choosing to pursue aggressive treatment, which has meant multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries and an endless intake of medications.
To prolong his life for the sake of his wife and four children, Wieser underwent a clinical trial named in his honor by doctors inspired by his story. In addition to never giving up the fight, Wieser and his wife Heidi founded the Me-One Foundation, a nonprofit organization that hosts a free weekend camp for adult cancer patients and their families to forget about the disease and heal together. The name represents a scorecard: me 1-cancer 0.
Wieser started the trial on Feb. 21, 2012 at the UC Davis Medical Center. In an email to his wife on that day, and forwarded to the Press Tribune, he remarked on the magnitude of the journey on which he was embarking: “So here we go — first guy in the world to do this. It is amazing.” The email subject line reads: “Life.”
For eight months, Wieser took a combination of an oral chemotherapy twice daily with an intravenous chemotherapy once a week until September, when treatment ended because the tumors in his lungs started to grow again, Heidi Wieser said.
One side effect of the drug combination was that her husband had to stay out of the sun. He wore special clothes, purchased online, with SPF in the fabric. He wore hats and used creams.
“One day, when we were driving to Marysville for our youngest son’s baseball game, he got huge blisters on the top of his hands from holding the steering wheel in the sun,” she said. “So I went and bought special white cloth gloves, like Michael Jackson, for him to wear. He was not able to swim in our pool at all last summer. That part was really hard.”
Nine years of battling cancer has drained the family’s bank accounts, but the Wiesers have still found a way to fundraise and volunteer to support other cancer families through their foundation. Now they need some help. The experimental treatment wasn’t cheap or covered by health insurance, and Carter & Co. Communications, a public affairs firm based in Fresno, is raising $200,000 to cover the costs. About 200 people had donated a total of $44,000 as of press time.
“This family has touched lives all over the country and we needed to find a way to quickly update everyone about Tom’s current health condition and make it very easy for them to help in whatever way they were most comfortable,” said the firm’s owner Holly Carter in a press release.
They started a Facebook account and a GoFundMe.com fundraising page where people can donate money. Wieser expressed gratitude for this effort from his hospital bed. He has since been discharged, but will be returning for brain radiation in late January.
“Words just can’t do justice for the love and support we feel from so many special people,” he said. “My family and I will win this battle and we will share the victory with the many people who have inspired me to fight on.”