He has spent more than the past decade helping medical patients get well. And for the past year, Columbus native Andrew Heimann has fought for his own health and his very life in a battle against cancer.
“Dad,” he told father Stephen Heimann, the recently retired Bartholomew Circuit Court judge recently. “I feel like I’m in a race, and they keep moving the finish line.”
To help the family in that race, Columbus’ Charlotte Battin Productions is hosting a Saturday variety show fundraiser at the local Mill Race Center to help Andrew Heimann cover medical and general care expenses that have run about $15,000 monthly since he has been unable to work in his private practice as an acupuncture specialist (he operated The Lapis Center in Columbus from 2005 to 2008).
In August, the 38-year-old Miami, Florida, resident was diagnosed with Grade IV glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer, a very aggressive form of this disease. Unfortunately, his specific tumor type does not respond to traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation and generally requires alternative approaches, according to his doctors.
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So, for the past several months, he has tried a variety of experimental medicines and procedures administered first in Germany, then at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Meanwhile, he has undergone more traditional care at University of Miami Hospital.
Though during some periods, he has lost weight, strength, and even his mobility, he has maintained a wiseacre wit long evident in his dad. For instance, when Miami physicians recently suggested the possibility of a skilled nursing care facility for him, all he could seem to picture was a nursing home.
“Let’s make sure they have good bingo,” he told his father.
His parents can laugh with him. But they acknowledge a journey through aggressive cancer can be draining financially — they have spent well into six figures just for travel, insurance and medical-related expenses from their own pocket. They aren’t complaining, but the journey has been also emotionally draining, the couple said.
“I think this year has been the most difficult one we’ve ever had to deal with as individuals,” said Stephen Heimann, sitting at their home with wife Ann.
They credit their Christian faith with keeping them afloat in seas that have tossed them through wave after wave of uncertainty as they watch their son rally, and then get splashed in the face with a series of serious setbacks.
They overflow with gratitude for more than $100,000 being donated for their son’s care through the online YouCaring crowdfunding site that still is open. They grow emotional when they speak of prayers, hugs, and well-wishes shared from friends and supporters, including fellow believers at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church.
And they seem duly proud that their son has long said throughout his treatment that he seeks not only his own recovery, but what his father has termed “how he will be able to use this experience to help serve others.” For instance, he yearns for the medical data and feedback from his experimental treatment to benefit others in the future.
“He’s been a healer,” Ann Heimann said, referring to her son’s successful practice. “That’s what he has done.”
Battin mentioned that the variety show, in which attendees can donate as they feel led, is just one way she decided she could somehow benefit the family. She has assembled a local lineup ranging from music to dance to comedy.
She herself expects to perform a Polynesian dance number that she once unveiled at the Dancing With the Stars … Columbus Style fundraiser that she originated.
“Everyone I contacted was quick to say yes they could do it, without any hesitation,” Battin said.
Country singer Charlie Moore, a favorite over the past 20 years at the summertime Donner Park Variety Shows, plans to sing a few tunes from Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings.
“I just love the idea of doing what I can to help the community,” Moore said.
Husband-wife professional acting duo Doug Stender and Jill Tasker, veterans of the stage and television, will perform a classic 1960s comedy sketch about a telephone operator. They have presented the bit in the past at the Harlequin Theatre in Columbus and for other audiences.
“Those people have loved it,” Stender said.
The Heimanns are uncertain where their journey is leading. Stephen Heimann just made two trips to Miami within 10 days to help tackle medical issues with his son. Amid that topsy-turvy existence, the father frequently talks these days of being able to feel the prayers of others for them all.
“It’s like getting a hug,” he said.
Come Saturday, a day in which Andrew Heimann hopes to return home, there probably will be plenty of those.
What: Charlotte Battin Productions’ Andrew Heimann Cancer Fund Variety Show to help only with his medical expenses not covered by insurance for Columbus native Andrew Heimann, now living in Miami, Florida. One donor already has offered to match donations dollar-for-dollar.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mill Race Center, 900 Lindsey St. in Columbus
Admission: Free, but attendees can donate to the cause
Information: Battin at 812-342-6093 or email to email@example.com