Community called into action
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News August 17, 2012 2:44PM
Kevin Huyser, who is battling a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the third time, poses with wife Lynne. | submitted photo
How to help
What: Spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Kevin Huyser
When: 5-9 p.m. Friday
Where: Three Rivers Church, 23901 W. Rolf Road, Plainfield
What: Food, 50/50, raffle, silent auction
Tickets: $10 each. Children 5 and younger free.
Contact: Tiny Doty at 630-881-1670
Updated: September 20, 2012 6:08AM
A kindness of a Joliet Sam’s Club optician has led to a series of fundraisers for a Plainfield man, Kevin Huyser, who is battling a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the third time.
The next benefit will be a spaghetti dinner Friday. The first fundraiser occurred early in August at Culver’s in Joliet with CEO Craig Culver himself helping to flip burgers and greet guests.
“I’m in the ‘people’ business more than I’m in the ‘food’ business,” Culver said. “When I’m able to help, I want to do it. That’s part of the spirit of Culvers, in my eyes.”
The Sam’s Club optician, Twila Shafer of Joliet, who also works two other jobs, first met Kevin Huyser and his wife, Lynne Huyser, at Sam’s Club because Lynne needed a new pair of glasses.
When Shafer learned that Kevin was facing a second stem cell transplant, she paid for Lynne’s exam and then contacted other people to help plan some benefits for the Huysers. Shafer insisted her actions weren’t out of the ordinary.
“Kevin’s vision may change, too, with all the treatments he’s going through,” Shafer said. “Paying for the exam just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Kevin’s troubles began in 2006 when a painless lump appeared on his neck. It was diagnosed as diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and treated with chemotherapy, which was repeated in 2007 when the cancer returned. A stem cell transplant followed those treatments.
When the lump returned in April 2012, a surgical biopsy determined it was mantle cell lymphoma, the rarest form of NHL and the most difficult to treat. Only about 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation (www.lymphoma.org). Kevin said his doctors are hypothesizing he’s been battling mantel cell lymphoma all along.
“They feel it’s unlikely lightning struck twice, to start out as one kind of lymphoma and come back as something else,” Kevin said. “Mantel cell tends to go in remission and then return fairly quickly.”
Kevin, a clinical counselor with Associates in Professional Counseling in Palos Heights (Kevin’s had offices in Plainfield and Naperville) has been out of work since May 1 to undergo more chemotherapy and prepare for a second stem cell transplant in September.
This one will use stem cells from one of his brothers. Both brothers, Kevin said, were perfect matches. Lynne, an early childhood instructor at the Plainfield Park District, isn’t working either. Any virus she carries home could be devastating to Kevin’s weakened immune system.
“Life is hard, but our purpose is to trust God with this process,” Lynne said. “He has surrounded us with so many amazing people and he continues to surround us with what we need in the moment.”
Visits from friends and plenty of reading material also keep Kevin distracted from his health woes. He’s endured pneumonia and whooping cough. His coughing fits are so severe, they cause him to faint. Lynne said that, in an 11-day period, Kevin had 75 blackouts.
Mostly, Kevin and Lynne are thankful for the simple pleasures in life — like hearing birds chirping — and for friends like fellow park district instructor Caryn Dean, and other park district employees, as well as their friends from Three Rivers Church in Plainfield. Dean is happy to help and hopes the community will support the fundraisers.
“Kevin has been battling both the disease and its repercussions for at least six years,” Dean said. “No sooner does one symptom lessen than a worse one takes its place. He is in constant pain and has been for years. They so deserve a break.”