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Hastings man battles cancer without a cure: Benefit for Chuck Rich is May 2

Hastings will have a chance to help out one of its own on May 2. A benefit event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at Dugarel’s Bar and Grill to raise money for Chuck Rich, who was diagnosed with liver cancer.

Rich, 52, has lived in Hastings since 2000 and works as a driver for Cemstone. He first noticed something was wrong last spring.

“I was having problems with my right foot,” he said.

Naturally, he compensated by putting more weight on his left side. His leg got better, but then his lower back and left side started hurting. At first, he figured it was just an issue of alignment, because of his leg injury. He went to a chiropractor, and while he was able to regain motion, the pain wouldn’t go away. His chiropractor suggested getting an X-Ray, which he did. Doctors were expecting a tear in the lining of his hip joint, he said, but they found shadows instead. They did a CT scan, found lumps and did a biopsy. All of it happened within about three and a half weeks.

“It was just overwhelming,” he said. “Just so fast. I still didn’t believe it.”

He was diagnosed with glandular carcinoma. He had a tennis-ball-sized tumor in the area of the sacrum and hip, a golf-ball sized tumor on his liver, and others the size of a dime or nickel. A second opinion at the University of Minnesota yielded the same diagnosis.

“I’ve never expected anything like this,” he said. “It gets me kind of emotional every once in a while.”

His prognosis is uncertain. What he does know is that he’s not likely to be free of the cancer.

“It’s not curable, but it can be maintained,” he said. “… I’m hoping that we can maintain this for a long, long time.”

Right after his diagnosis, Rich started radiation therapy. Ten days in, he found that the tumor on his hip was growing. His doctors changed his radiation for the next five days, and then he went on to three rounds of chemotherapy.

The tumor on his hip is gone now, but it left him with a crater in the bone that puts him at a higher risk of hip fracture, so the doctors want to fill that in. He’s also on a new treatment regimen.

“The first chemo regimen didn’t quite do what they were looking for it to do,” he said.

The remaining tumors didn’t grow, but they did find new spots on his liver. Now he’s on another treatment plan, with his second round of chemotherapy starting tomorrow (Friday). Doctors will check again after the third round.

“I won’t know if the new chemo treatment’s doing any good until May or June,” he said.

The experience has completely changed his perspective.

“It changes your life in an instant,” Rich said. “You think about things totally different.”

He’s focused now on trying to be as positive as he can.

“I don’t want to know how long I’ve got, ‘cause then that’s all you think about,” he said. “… You can’t dwell on what’s going on. You have to be positive.”

Since this sort of cancer can be managed, he’s also working on changing his diet to help his body keep up as long as it can.

Benefit

Rich is facing more than the challenges of cancer. He’s also facing financial challenges. If he’s not able to get back to work by June, he won’t have any insurance, he said.

That’s where several of his friends and family and coworkers are stepping up and organizing a fundraiser to help cover his medical bills. One of them is Tina Latch, who met Rich through softball. He was the umpire and she was a catcher. She also would see him when he was a bouncer at Dugarel’s.

“I have never met anyone like him, to fight like he is, to not let this cancer take him down,” she wrote in an email.

“When I heard about the benefit, I sent Chuck a message telling him that I would do whatever I could to help with this benefit. I wanted him to know that he also had, besides family, other people that cared.”

Latch said special thanks need to be given to Dugarel’s, for holding the benefit; Ashley Darst; Raye and Brian Darst; and Roz Carter, who has been working the social networks to get more support for Rich.

The benefit will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at Dugarel’s. There will be door prizes, a silent auction and a live DJ. There will be a $10 donation taken at the door.

Anyone who would like to donate can contact Latch at 651-434-4180 or tseekon@msn.com.

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