AURORA — Local residents are being asked to come to the aid of an Aurora High graduate who is battling mesothelioma and the high medical bills associated with its treatment.
A rummage sale fundraiser is slated for Aug. 18 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church for Mike Mattmuller, a 2000 graduate of AHS who many local residents will remember as a good student and star athlete.
In addition to high-quality items that will be available, a bake sale, 50/50 raffle and Chinese auction will be conducted.
Mike, who now lives in Westminster, Md., northwest of Baltimore, is the son of David and Diana Mattmuller and the grandson of the late Matthew "Ric" Mattmuller, a former Aurora mayor and city councilman, and Donna Mattmuller.
After graduating from AHS, Mike attended West Virginia University, and earned a degree in engineering.
While at AHS, he was a qualifier to the state wrestling tournament and received all-league honors in wrestling, football and track. His dad said he received offers to play sports in college, but decided to focus on academics.
"Seven years ago, Mike developed mesothelioma, had chemotherapy and had one lung removed," said his father. "Late last year, the disease returned, and he has had proton radiation therapy, but still has the disease along with big medical bills."
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, caused in 80 percent of cases by exposure to asbestos. David said the family hasn’t a clue as to how or where Mike might have been exposed to asbestos or contracted the disease.
It develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs. The most common area affected is the lining of the lungs and chest wall.
It was September 2011 when Mike visited an urgent care clinic, believing he had dislocated a rib, but he found out he had cancer. Two months later, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
In 2012, Mike went through four rounds of chemotherapy and a major life-saving surgery in which doctors removed his left lung, half his diaphragm and the lining of his heart.
At the end of all of his treatments, he was proclaimed to be NED (no evidence of disease), and was able to continue in that state for five years.
But in September 2017, Mike’s mesothelioma returned. After weighing the treatment options, he and his wife, Jess, decided to go with proton therapy versus traditional radiation.
Mike said the risks of side effects from that treatment were much less, and the treatment time frame made the decision easy.
Due to complications from the life-saving surgery the first time around, and the side effects of his latest treatments, he is unable to work. He is on disability, but his family no longer is aided by his employer’s paid portion of health insurance.
Mike said he is not currently undergoing treatment, but doctors are doing followup care and monitoring his condition.
"I don’t know much of what is going on with the rummage sale back in Aurora, but from what I’ve heard, the outpouring of support is absolutely amazing," Mike said, adding he is looking forward to being in Aurora for the sale.
All funds received will be used to help offset expenses for the cancer treatments and to alleviate financial stresses on Jess and 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Riley.
David explained 100 percent of the items which will be available at the rummage sale were donated by friends and Hope Lutheran Church members. He added donations will be accepted up until the day of the sale.
"Your generosity will be forever appreciated by Jess, Riley and me," Mike says in his gofundme page information.
"This sale is a big function for Mike, not only to help pay for some of his monstrous medical bills, but to get the word out about mesothelioma," said David. "The disease is still going strong with no cure, and the United States is behind the world in banning asbestos."
More information about the event can be found on Mike’s GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/help-mike-beat-meso.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.