March 19, 2007

An unexpected fate leads to an unexpected benefit

Benefit planned for Richard A. Schmidt Saturday at the Delano Legion

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

Loss is hard.

Expecting loss is even harder.

Richard and Lisa Schmidt know, and live, this life, as Richard was diagnosed with terminal Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), commonly known as Gardner’s Syndrome, in February.

FAP is a hereditary type of cancer inside the colon that consists of an overgrowth of tumors.

Depending on what stage the disease is at, it may be treatable, however, there is no cure.

Richard is the son-in law of Penny and Ken Murphy of Delano.

Richard first discovered his condition in early February, when he met with a surgeon. Unfortunately, for Richard, it was already too late. At that point, his colon was already overloaded.

Richard has had two check-ups every year since his father passed away, and has regularly been to doctor this past month. Since an operation Richard had, he has been on medication.

Richard and Lisa have three kids, Cory, 9; Jessica, 7; and Zachary, 4.

Richard has always loved being a dad, and spending time with his kids, and having this condition is hard on him also.

“The kids would be crying because they missed their dad,” Lisa said. Richard was in the hospital for a little over a week, and it seemed more and more clear of the prognosis. Lisa worries about their kids, especially.

“Cory knows and he expects it, and my daughter, Jessica, I never know because she is just so naive like me. I think they will be okay, though. I’m more worried about the little one. He’s just so young,” Lisa said.

With tears in his eyes, Richard looked at his wife as she talked about the future.

“You have to consider things like graduation, walking her (Jessica) down the aisle. It’s all stuff you have to think about,” she said.

Richard loves being father and being a good provider for his family. He firmly believes that he and his family would not be where they are today without the support of the family. No matter what, they have each other, and they will continue to depend on each other for love and support.

To help, Lisa’s sister, Marie, proposed the idea having a benefit for Richard and the family.

Since Richard was diagnosed with FAP, the hospital bills have been piling up. As a family, they have to watch what they spend.

Lisa, who admits to being “very naive” tries not to think about it. It is difficult for her to ask for help. She said she wants her family to spend as much time together as possible, but time requires money.

“I have a good support system. I’m just not a good asker,” she said. “Marie planned everything, and we are hoping for the best. Being broke sucks, but at least we have each other,” Lisa said.

If the outcome for the benefit is successful, Richard hopes to take more days off of work to spend with his family, and possibly take a trip with Lisa.

In June, Richard plans to take their boys to a NASCAR race because that is something the kids and he have always enjoyed and wanted to experience.

The Schmidts will learn more about Richard’s condition Wednesday at an appointment.

Richard also has an older brother who has suffered from this condition, but he was fortunate enough to discover it when it was treatable.

Both Lisa and Richard encourage all families to inform their children of hereditary diseases. Richard was not aware of this condition until his father passed away a few years ago.

His family had kept very quiet about the condition. It was then Lisa took action to get both Rich and her children tested.

Lisa believes that if Richard would have known the family’s history with FAP, it could have been prevented.

“I’m not scared,” Richard said.

If anything, he’s sad to leave his family behind, he said, but there was not anything he or Lisa could do.

Knowing what is to come, Lisa also replied, “I’m not scared, because of my faith. I just don’t want to be left behind. He just takes such good care of us.”

For the past few months, Lisa has taken it upon herself to find a job. She is a certified medical assistant, and is still looking for a full-time job.

“Life’s not fair, but everything happens for a reason,” she said.

No matter how bad things get, “you still have your memories at the end of the day. It could be much worse.”

The benefit shows Richard is not in this alone. He has support – family support.

A benefit for Richard will take place Saturday, March 24 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Delano American Legion.

A spaghetti dinner and silent auction will be included. Proceeds from the benefit will pay for past medical expenses and all current and future care expenses. Matching funds will be provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

If unable to attend, donations may be made to:

Benefit for Richard Schmidt

Security State Bank of Maple Lake

100 Hwy. 55 E.

PO Box 449

Maple Lake, MN 55358

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