This campaign is dedicated to my best friend and ex-husband Bernie Sammons. Bernie's latest chapter is just another of life long challenges. During his lifetime, Bernie has undergone 2 neck surgeries, brain surgery, 2 different fractures of his right leg, 2 different comas, one for 2 weeks and another for 1 week, hospitalization for 1 year after being hit by a car, and over 15 surgeries for things like blood clots, appendix, tonsils, and removal of staph infection from a fracture of the right femur.
Bernie has overcome many different diagnosis' from various doctors. Doctors told him he would never graduate college due to the brain surgery. Bernie graduated with a Bachelors degree in Finance from Arizona State University. He would later complete an elementary education certification program in addition to earning a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from The University of New England.
Several years before Bernie had brain surgery, Bernie was driving a motor scooter when he was hit from behind by someone driving a Cadillac. He was thrown off his scooter into a fire hydrant. Due to injuries from the accident, Doctors told Bernie he would never walk again.
Through extreme stubbornness and hard work, Bernie was walking unassisted 4 years after being discharged from the hospital.
Bernie has overcome every challenge placed in front of him. Unfortunately, his current medical issues don't offer such bright outlooks. For the 1st time, Bernie is facing a good possibility that one of these challenges may be terminal.
Bernie has dedicated a good portion of his life to helping those in need. These have included children, less fortunate, animals and both strangers, friends and family. When time allowed, every tax season Bernie would prepare on average 25-50 income tax returns on a volunteer basis. His love for teaching also prompted him to offer volunteer tutoring services at a local community college.
It is time to show Bernie that his actions were truly appreciated and allow him to fulfill his Bucket List Goals.
Bernie Sammons is a former 1st grade school teacher who was forced to retire after being diagnosed with cancer in 2014. Despite his love for children and teaching, a watermelon size tumor in his right leg prevented him from continuing to help students and others.
In August of 2015, after completing both chemotherapy and radiation treatments Bernie underwent surgery to remove the tumor & cancer. While the surgery was a success, 9 days after surgery Bernie fractured his right femur. This resulted in an emergency surgery to repair the spiral fracture & try to save his leg.
After surgery & 4 months of intensive physical therapy, Bernie was surprised to learn that his fractured leg was no longer healing. Bernie's doctors would spend the next 6 months trying various different methods to promote healing in the leg. Unfortunately, all of these attempts would fail.
Finally, Bernie was referred to a specialist in Phoenix, Arizona who specializes in non-healing fractures. As this process begins, Doctors have told him that he will need to undergo surgery, and a possible bone graft followed by physical therapy to try and save both his leg and ability to walk. In addition to these challenges, Bernie is also facing several other surgeries. After numerous tests are complete, surgeries including a double knee replacement, hip replacement surgery, spinal surgery and a 3rd neck surgery.
Following these, Bernie will need to begin treatment for severe Neuropathy in both of his lower legs and both testing and treatment for chronic migraine headaches. Doctors are ordering further testing to rule out brain cancer or epileptic seizures occurring in the brain only.
Doctors have told him that while they hope for the best, that Bernie should prepare for the worst. The worst could include all or part of the following: Paralysis of the right leg, an inability to walk unassisted. In addition, worst possible outcomes could also include brain cancer, uncontrollable seizures, stage 4 cancer in left leg, loss of memory and a terminal diagnosis.
In addition to medical challenges, Bernie is also facing financial challenges. Bernie still owes over $5,000 in medical bills from the cancer treatment and surgery he did in 2015. As Bernie tries to overcome all of these medical challenges, he will be required to pay co-pays for all treatments, surgeries, etc.
An example of his financial challenges- Bernie takes a medication daily to control his seizures. For Bernie to receive this medication, insurance requires him to pay a $400 co-pay for a 30 day supply.
Unfortunately for Bernie, his sole source of income is Social Security Disability benefits that are less than $2,000 a month.
While many of those in need have a large circle of family and friends, Bernie doesn't have that luxury. He comes from a family that includes his mother, 2 brothers and 2 sisters. His father passed away several years ago due to cancer. Bernie has lived in 24 different cities and states. As a result, his circle of friends is very small- less than 5 individuals.
This is one of the many reasons why we are seeking the help of others.
As Bernie prepares for all of these challenges, our goal is to help him fulfill his Bucket List. Bernie has 6 remaining items on his bucket list that he would like to accomplish before September of 2017.
These items include the following:
1. Attend the 2017 NFL Super Bowl in Houston, Texas with a friend on February 5th. Bernie is a HUGE New England Patriots fan & is hoping to see them there.
2. Establish a non-profit organization that helps low-income elementary students get laptops, tablets & other electronic devices to help them succeed in school.
3. Visit New England and Washington DC for 2 weeks to visit historical sites of US History.
4. Establish a non-profit organization for abused animals, those loving animals that are abused, tormented and ignored by their "loving" owners.
5. Visit Ireland and Great Britain to see the homes & towns of his ancestors
6. Ensure that ALL medical expenses are paid, so family isn't responsible after his death.