APRIL 7, 1997
Community asked to help cancer victim
by Andrew Walgamott
Fifty-four-year-old Linda Evans is slowly recovering from an inoperable tumor in her brain stem. Last October, she was bedridden with terrible headaches. But now she has her freedom of movement back. Thanks to an alternative therapy in Texas, she's gained 20 pounds, and once again can play with her grandchildren, Kyle Evans and Hailey and Jake Olsen.
But Linda and her husband, Al, need help. Linda's medical bills are running $8,000 to $9,000 a month for the treatment she receives from the Burzynski Research Clinic in Houston. Because the couple's insurance company considers the treatment to be experimental, it won't pay for more than some incidental tubing.
The Evans family, Woodinville residents since 1975, have already mortgaged their home, and their friends and family have helped when they could. With their resources exhausted, the Evanses turned to the Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District. And that's where the Woodinville Fire Fighter Explorer Scouts Post #44 became involved. "They've been fabulous," Linda said.
The scouts have organized a spaghetti dinner and silent auction set for April 12 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Leota Junior High cafeteria, 19301 168th Avenue NE. The entire community is invited to attend. There will be a fire engine, firefighters, desserts, and children's activities. The Evans' two sons and daughter and their families will be cooking the dinner.
Among the auction items are paintings donated by Choices/The Gallery, gift certificates from Albertson's, car detailing from Advanced Auto Body, an overnight package from the Hilton Hotel in Seattle, ski packages from K2, Sonics jerseys, signed Husky footballs, and a luncheon cruise out of LaConner.
The Explorer Scouts, high school and college-age men and women interested in becoming firefighters, began helping the Evanses by selling low-fat cookbooks for $10. They also marshaled donations from the business community. "We can't say enough about the Explorer Scouts," said Darren, one of Linda and Al's sons. "Without them, we wouldn't have much going on."
Rebecca Petrin, a member of the Explorer Scouts and a junior at Woodinville High School, was happy to be involved in raising money for the family. "I think it's great to be out there making a difference in her life. We're thrilled to help out," Petrin said.
The Explorer Scouts are also involved with many community events, including the Bassett Bash, 4th of July, and the All Fool's Day Parade. They also provide recreation for kids. "We help out where anybody asks," said Petrin.
Linda Evans' brain tumor is just one in a string of debilitating cancers that have struck her. In 1990, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her voice box. A year after radiation treatment, a laryngectomy was done. Her voice box and vocal chords were removed. Determined to speak again, Linda learned esophageal speech, joined the Seattle Laryngectomy Club, and became president of the club.
Cancer returned in 1992, 1994, and 1996. Her entire right jaw bone was removed and reconstructive surgery was done. Linda said she recovered rapidly, but eight months later, in October last year, a terrible pain in her temple and head forced her back into bed. An MRI scan was done last October, and a tumor was found in her brain stem. Intense radiation treatment was her only option, and it would only relieve the pain for a short time while doing nothing for the tumor. At her lowest point, Evans weighed only 95 pounds.
Darren said six months ago his mother was down and out. "The doctors didn't give her a chance," Darren said. But, he added, "When somebody tells you that you don't have a shot, get a second opinion."
Linda had kept an article she'd read on the Burzynski Clinic. She sent her records down, and since November, has been undergoing nontoxic intravenous treatment. "Now I'm able to be up and do most of the activities I did before. And I even drive again," Linda said. "The last MRI scan showed my tumor has not grown since October."
Because the FDA has approved the study for the medication only in Texas, the Evanses have to travel there every six to eight weeks. "It's very expensive. We're trying to raise $100,000 for the medical costs," Linda said about the treatment that is giving her back her freedom.
"I get tired easily, but I can do the things I used to do," Linda said. She carries around an IV pump, and medication is injected into her body 22 hours a day. Doctors in Washington monitor her twice week and fax the results to the Burzynski clinic.
"We'd love to have the whole community come down and lend their support for Linda," said Petrin about the dinner and auction.
"I just want to let everyone know how much we appreciate this. The support has been tremendous. The fire department has been great," Linda Evans said.
If you're not able to make it to the dinner and auction, donations can be mailed to: Seafirst Bank, Cottage Lake Branch, 19160 Woodinville-Duvall Road, Woodinville, WA 98072; or to Al Evans, 18941 NE 168th Street, Woodinville, WA 98072.