Fund established for Kaneland grad’s cancer battle

By on August 15, 2014
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ELBURN—Longtime Elburn resident, 2000 Kaneland graduate, football player, husband, brain cancer patient.

All of those things describe Mike Reynertson. All who know him know he’s a fighter. And after 12 long years, six surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he’s still fighting Stage 3 brain cancer.

At the age of 33, Reynertson should be enjoying life with his wife, Erin. Instead, he’s worrying about the $480,000 of debt amassed in treating the life-threatening disease.

“That’s why I finally gave in to Breanna (Leuze) when she wanted to set up a Give Forward page for me,” Mike said. “I did it for Erin’s sake. I couldn’t leave my wife with this crushing debt and a mortgage. I just had to bite the bullet.”

Mike’s journey began 12 years ago. He was 21 years old and working toward an associate’s degree and playing football at Harper College. He also was being recruited to play ball in the Big Ten Conference.

After suffering a grand mal seizure so violent he was thrown from his bed, dislocating his shoulder, he learned he had a brain tumor. In May 2003, he underwent surgery and was diagnosed with Stage 3 malignant astrocytoma in his left frontal lobe.

After surgery, he received chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Even more devastating was learning that he would no longer be able to play football. After a second surgery in November 2003 to reduce swelling and remove cysts that had formed around the area of the first surgery, and various other treatments, Reynertson went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in political science at Northern Illinois University.

Five years after his first surgery, in 2008, he celebrated with a “gone into remission party,” inviting family, friends and everyone he knew.

“I have a very large family—my parents are both one of seven,” Reynertson said. “We invited cousins and friends and everyone we knew.”

Two years later, in 2010, the cancer returned. Again, he underwent surgery and chemotherapy. That same year, Reynertson proposed to his girlfriend, and they married and bought a home in Elgin, Ill.

By December 2013, the cancer had returned yet again. Last April, he underwent his sixth surgery.

On his Give Forward page, Leuze writes, “This last round of surgery has scared Mike to his inner core. He is terrified more about leaving his wife and family with debt of over $480,000 in medical bills, and regular bills they have fallen behind on. Mike has not been able to be approved for life insurance. He has also not been able to file for total disability yet.”

Reynertson said he will have to be cancer-free for eight years before he can purchase life insurance.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 11, the Give Forward campaign had raised $2,270 of its $25,000 goal, with 67 days left to give. For more information on the campaign to assist Reynertson, visit www.giveforward.com/fundraiser and search “Reynertson.”

About Debbie Behrends

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