Northeast Allen Fire and EMS to hold fundraiser for firefighter’s wife as she battles Stage 4 brain cancer

(Photo courtesy of Heidi Malott Thompson)
Heidi Malott Thompson and her husband, Chris, didn't hide her diagnosis from their children, Joselyn, 5; Victoria, 6; and Bradley, 15. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Malott Thompson)
(Photo courtesy of Heidi Malott Thompson)
Heidi Malott Thompson, center, has gotten support during her cancer treatment, which made her hair fall out, from her cousin Heather, left, and her aunt, Amy, who both shaved their heads. Heather had enough hair to donate it to make wigs for children with cancer, Thompson said. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Malott Thompson)

Heidi Malott Thompson went to a hospital emergency room the Tuesday after Labor Day with what she believed was a pinched nerve.

“I thought maybe I’d get some muscle relaxers,” the 34-year-old mother of three said.

However, her ER visit led to tests that revealed Stage 4 brain cancer. Two weeks later she had surgery that removed 80 percent of her tumor, followed by two forms of chemotherapy along with radiation at Parkview Regional Medical Center.

The medical bills are piling up, and will likely be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. To help, Grabill’s Northeast Allen Fire and EMS, where her husband, Chris Thompson, has been a firefighter for 10 years, will hold an all-you-can-eat-pancakes-and-sausage fundraiser Nov. 18. The event is to raise money to help the family “so they can focus on treatment,” according to fire chief Tim George. Cost is $6 per person; free for ages 6 and under. Raffle tickets will be sold at the event for a chance to win a sign from Custom Plasma Designs.

The fire department has been helpful by delivering meals to the family two or three times a week, said Heidi Malott Thompson, who is on short-term disability from her job at Riverside Manufacturing.

The cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, is fast-growing and aggressive. Her only other symptom, difficulty walking, was another reason she thought she had a pinched nerve. She now uses a walker to get around.

About 20 percent of her brain tumor remained because her neurosurgeon worried that damage to the area where it was could have given her a stroke or poor quality of life, she said. So she must do chemotherapy infusions and pills along with the radiation.

She and her husband didn’t hide her diagnosis from the children, Bradley, 15; Victoria, 6; and Joselyn, 5.

“We told them about it right away,” she said. “They (the younger ones) just know I had an ouchy. The 15-year-old we told more.”

It left the young girls a bit frightened.

When she would go for medical treatment they would ask, “Are you going to come back home?” she said.

To help, she took the children to see where she got her radiation treatments.

The diagnosis has changed the family’s plans.

“The day we went to the hospital ER, we’d just had an inspection for a home we’d planned to buy,” she said. Now they will see how they can fix up their Fort Wayne home. Her treatments will also alter any family vacations they’ll take because she expects to have to wear an electronic cap on her head for 18 hours a day, not something conducive to the water parks they usually go to, she said. The cap is supposed to create an electrical field that keeps cancer cells from dividing.

FUNDRAISER TO HELP

WHAT: All-you-can-eat-pancakes-and-sausage fundraiser

WHEN: 7-11 a.m. Nov. 18

WHERE: Northeast Allen County Fire and EMS, 13415 State St., Grabill

COST: $6 per person; free for ages 6 and under.

For questions or to make a donation toward the breakfast event supplies or give money to the family, contact fire chief Tim George at 1-260-438-5664.

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