Community rallies to help with medical expenses

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Thursday, March 19, 2015 9:31pm
  • News

The Nikiski community is rallying and raffling in support of resident Myron McGahan, 38, who is battling a trio of diagnoses.

McGahan’s 10-year-old Chron’s disease diagnosis was compounded with ulcerative colitis in 2012, and six months ago discovered he had stage 3 colorectal cancer.

Community members organized the Myron McGahan Medical Fundraiser to help relieve his financial burden, symptomatic of being completely denied insurance or medical benefits, Saturday at the Nikiski Rec Center.

“He is in a bind and needing money,” said co-organizer of the event Carl Liebes. “We are fortunate to be healthy enough to put something together in his community to help him.”

Liebes, who owns Sno-Pros plowing service, was hired by McGahan to clear his driveway long after the two had gone through school together, when he found out about McGahan’s condition.

McGahan had started a GoFundMe account to help offset the ballooning costs of his medical care, Liebes said. Treatment, medication, testing and aftercare are the most significant expenses complicating McGahan’s situation, he said.

Liebes began reposting the address for McGahan’s fundraising page, and was soon contacted by Darcy McCaughey and Angie Wellborn have been integral, along with Audrey Johnson in organizing the event, he said.

“The community outreach has been excellent,” Liebes said. “There has been very good rapport all the way through Kenai and Soldotna. It’s been a very good outcome from the public.”

The Kenai Lions club offered support as a sponsor, which made permitting and assistance much easier, Liebes said.

The Facebook page Liebes constructed for the fundraiser drew more than 700 followers in only one month, Liebes said. Local companies and individuals have promised significant financial contributions and 18 volunteers are lined up to work the dinner and activities.

In a letter composed on Feb. 15 for the event’s page McGahan, who could not be contacted directly, explains his recent decision to move to Germany to take a test called TreatmentMap, which maps the tumor’s genome and the patient’s regular cell genome. It “takes all the guessing out of chemotherapy,” he said.

“It matches both to the best and most successful treatment for my particular cancer, while leaving my body without the full toxicity of just being put on any chemotherapy,” McGahan wrote.

The entire process was out of pocket, McGahan said. Remission was almost within grasp following the treatment determined by the test, but one month ago he was told the cancer had returned “eight fold,” he said.

The fundraiser, which McGahan will be unable to attend, was designed to be entertaining and family friendly, Liebes said. A silent auction will be accompanied by a live bluegrass band, Chinese auction, balloon pop and dinner, which will be served at 5:30 p.m., he said. Doors open at 5 p.m.

“I am hopeful that even if I do not make it through this, others will learn about this treatment and it will become an Americanized standard as it already should be,” McGahan wrote. “To all the people that know me and to all that don’t, my heart and soul will always be in Alaska and its people”


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