This page has been developed in sole support of Tom & Bethany Kuster to assist with medical bills. 100% of all donations made to the existing non-for-profit organization hosting this fundraiser (501(c)3, PHD420, Inc EIN #83-445144 ) will be donated directly to Tom & Bethany.
Bethany's Story :
Anyone who knows Tom knows that he's 100% committed to two things: his family and his work to promote the safety and well-being of the student-athletes at James Madison University (JMU). Since the unfolding of the novel coronavirus19, Tom has been working tirelessly to research and develop policies for testing and safe participation for all of the JMU Dukes. The job stress was through the roof. He needed his athletes to be safe and he needed to be able to keep them on campus to avoid his JMU Sports Medicine Staff being furloughed. Lives and livelihoods depended on his work. He was tired. So tired.
Around the time that campus opened back up for in-office work, he started feeling extreme fatigue. By the time he got home, he had just enough energy to read bedtime stories to his boys, Benjamin and Samuel, but was too tired to help with any of the household maintenance. We thought he just needed more rest to cope with the increased demands of work in a COVID world. He also started to have more digestive upset, but this has always been a typical stress response for him. On August 9, we convinced him to join us on a family adventure to our favorite creek and hiking trail. Our four year old son led the hike up the hill; after just three minutes, Tom was doubled over sucking wind. This obviously raised some red flags and we began to pursue checkups with his primary care physician. His abdominal pain and cramping was mostly on the right side of his belly, but not localized. His doctor began the initial workups and placed an order for a diagnostic ultrasound, but that wasn't scheduled until September 1.
On the night of August 26, his abdominal pain got drastically worse. We woke up on the 27th and he said, "It's time. We have to go to the Emergency Department today. I can't wait any longer." We went to the ED fully expecting a diagnosis of needing gallbladder surgery. He has a strong family history of this problem--father, grandfather, uncle. They did an immediate EKG, but then we waited quite a while for radiology to come pick him up for an abdominal CT scan. Tom texted his friend in radiology, and she sent our next door neighbor down to pick him up as they had called for him over an hour before. Our neighbor scanned him and was shocked to see what was showing up on her screen. A parade of several Physicians Assistants came in to collect history and details and then the general surgeon came in to explain that there was a large tumor completely obstructing his ascending colon that had metastasized to his liver. Every care provider that came to speak to us seemed baffled that his scans looked the way they did, but that he had virtually no warning symptoms to seek earlier testing.
Tom was immediately admitted to inpatient care-- he was unable to eat and needed nutrition, fluids, and monitoring. The general surgeon had pleaded with radiology to do an immediate liver biopsy, but we had to wait until the following day, a Friday. We didn't get the official diagnosis until Monday that everyone suspected-- stage IV colon cancer with extensive spread to his liver. While we were waiting for those results, the general surgeons did a procedure that Saturday morning to bypass the colon to allow him to eat. They stated that resecting the affected colon tissue would take six weeks of healing and frankly, he didn't have six weeks to wait to start chemo. No tumors have been removed yet.
The care team opted to begin 48 hours of chemotherapy on Tuesday, before the full tumor results were back, while he was still healing from the procedure and not yet tolerating food. The staff oncologist at our local hospital was not overly optimistic in her discussions with us, suggesting that surgery to remove tumors (the gold standard for cancer treatment) is not an option for Tom. We immediately made moves to seek care at the University of Virginia, as they are a NCI (National Cancer Institute) facility and widely considered the best option in the state. Tom will see an oncologist at the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center at UVA for the first consultation on September 17.
Meanwhile, he will return for his second round of chemo on Tuesday the 15th. We are hopeful that we will get the advanced care he needs at UVA, but we may need to consider traveling to other locations around the country. The more extensive pathology report is due September 11 and UVA states that they will reanalyze the results to be sure nothing was missed. Tom remains positive and is committed to fighting as hard as possible to continue to be here with his family and watch his sons grow up (and ideally to continue serving the student-athletes at JMU). Benjamin will turn 7 in October, and Samuel turns 5 the end of September. They adore their Dad. They need their Dad. Tom's wife, Bethany, lost both of her parents within 26 days of each other just two years ago. The thought of losing Tom in addition to her parents unfathomable, and eight years of marriage? Well that's just not enough.
We are all so thankful for the outpouring of support through cards, prayers, texts etc. We want to provide every possible treatment option for him and appreciate your consideration of financial support (in addition to your continued generous prayers) as you can imagine that pursuing the BEST treatment will not be inexpensive.
It is our ambitious goal to collectively raise 100K for TK! Our plan is to accomplish this goal through the month of October, though we will keep this fundraiser open longer with the hopes that others learn about it as we battle together and support Tom.
Along with generously supporting Tom & Bethany from a financial perspective, we are asking everyone to participate in a 100 Kilometer exercise activity throughout the entire month of October. You can exercise to your fitness level and liking - walk, jog, run, bike, swim, or any activity of your choosing. You can do your own #100K4TK or create a team and compete with others for distance and donations.
To create a team, simply click on “The Team” button and follow the instructions. When people come to support your efforts here on this page, simply have them choose your team name. Your team will get the credit with all donations going directly to support Tom & Bethany.
We ask that you use social media to let everyone to show your support of #100K4TK. Take a picture of you before, after, or during your exercise & post it with the #100K4TK. Share it to your Facebook Story, Facebook Page, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Feel Free to tag Tom & Bethany as well as share it to the Tom Kuster Support Group on Facebook so they can see your support and receive positive and encouraging thoughts from your efforts.
Don’t forget to track and share your progress. There are many apps, watches, and devices to allow this to happen. The Strava App (no affiliation & its free) allows you to connect with your Facebook contacts when you join. It tracks your overall distance and allows you to post courses and maps of distances moved just as simple as making a post on Facebook.
As any JMU Alum knows, PURPLE is what you bleed & what you wear! And what better way to show how much you support Tom than to wear one of these custom designed #100K4TK shirts while you exercise. Simply click on this link:
to get yours now and START WEARING PURPLE!!
We got this!
#Setting The Standard