Support system helps man battling cancer
The Stanly News & Press - 11/5/2017
Terry Chriswisser says he does not remember half of his story because of a lengthy hospital stay.
"I couldn't have done this without her," Chriswisser says, speaking of Kim Loflin, his fiancée. "It's been an uphill battle."
Both Norwood residents speak highly of Jamie Hathcock, a Special Olympian they coach in golf.
"Had Jamie Hathcock, our Special Olympics friend, not wanted to go play golf, Terry may not know to this day that this was cancer," Loflin said. "Other than he was tired, the cancer had not showed itself."
Hathcock had asked if Chriswisser wanted to hit a bucket of balls for practice.
"[Terry] swung one time and he felt something pull in his side," Loflin said. "He thought he had a pulled muscle."
Chriswisser was treated for five weeks for a pulled muscle.
"After five weeks he was no better. In fact, he was worse," Loflin said. "I told him, 'You're going back to the doctor because something's wrong.' "
Loflin said he was tired, too weak to get out of bed, even screaming out in pain.
His doctor scheduled x-rays and a round of blood work. Then there was a CT scan and more blood work.
Upon arriving home, Chriswisser received a call from the doctor's office asking him to return.
"We were just devastated to say the least," Loflin said. "One vertebrae was fractured in two. That must have been what happened on the golf course."
He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that attacks bones and the blood system.
A bone biopsy revealed more.
"His spine looked like Swiss cheese," Loflin said. "There were lesions where the cancer had attacked the bones."
The first course of treatment did not start positively, Loflin said.
"His body was not reacting well to it," Loflin said. "We noticed the weekend of Labor Day that he coughed nonstop for hours and hours."
Chriswisser was on life support for five days.
"It was bad," Loflin said. "I thought he was going to die. I really thought he was going to die."
Ed Boan, who worked with Loflin and has known her about 16 years, learned of Crisswisser's story through his wife and Loflin sharing messages online.
"He told me I would not have went (to get checked out) if I had not been reading what was going on with Terry," Loflin said.
Boan, 61, said he has had chest and back pain, sometimes to the point of near paralysis. He has had one biopsy and was scheduled for another one on Nov. 2.
"Shortly after they diagnosed him I started experiencing pain in my back," Boan said. "For me it was very similar to what he had went through.
"Being a male, as we're inclined to do, I just put it off - thought it was just back pain," he added.
The Statesville resident went to the doctor and after a series of tests and an x-ray it was determined he had cancer.
"It was an awareneess thing because of what he went through," said Boan, who advises other men to undergo checkups on a regular basis.
"That's what they need to do," he said. "Most of the time when they find out they've got it, it's too late. By the time they find it and it starts hurting them really bad, there's nothing they can do for them."
Chriswisser has been able to tolerate the latest form of chemo for more than 10 days.
From what Loflin can gather, the cause of this cancer is unknown. Many times it is found in soldiers that were exposed to Agent Orange, she said.
But Chriswisser, 58, was not in the military. He worked at Palm Harbor Homes in Albemarle for 11 years and was also as a customer service representative for Universal Forest Products.
Although Loflin says "it's been a nightmare to say the least," at the same time, she says "we've also been so blessed in the storm."
Pine Grove United Methodist Church had a fundraiser Oct. 29 for the couple.
"We've just had people helping us while Terry was in the hospital," Loflin said. "He has blessed us in this storm. People have helped us and I don't know how we'll ever repay them."
Danny Franklin, Loflin's brother, is also helping out. He's a member of the Albemarle Ghost Riders Club. The motorcycle group will host a benefit poker run on Nov. 18. Entry is $10 per bike. Registration is at 10 a.m., with kickstands up at 11 a.m.
Riders will meet at the Ghost Riders clubhouse, 24844 N.C. Highway 24-27, Albemarle, near Endy Elementary School.
Anyone seeking more information about the ride can contact Franklin at (704) 438-3698.
"We think a lot of Terry," Franklin said. "Bad things happen to good people sometimes."
The club began in the late 1960s and reformed about five years ago, Franklin said.
"The club tries to help out a lot of people," he said. "We try to do good stuff."
The last stop of the ride will be at another fundraiser for Chriswisser.
Freedom Tabernacle Baptist Church, 8348 Fork Road, Norwood, where Chriswisser and Loflin attend, will have a fundraiser to help with medical expenses.
The benefit will be from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Individuals will have a choice of pork barbecue or chicken plates, with slaw, baked beans, roll and dessert, for $8 each. Advance orders may be placed by calling or texting Debbie Crump at (704) 984-2928.
Terri Leslie, wife of church pastor John Leslie, said they have known Chriswisser and Loflin for more than 20 years.
"We've gone to church together years and years and years, even before my husband was pastor there," Leslie said. "These are the most awesome people, most giving people you'd ever want to meet.
"They're the type of people when they're in a bind, you're going to jump in and help them. It's just mandatory."
Leslie said supplies and food have been donated and a man has volunteered to cook the meat at no charge.
"They just have so many friends," she added. "These are just really Godly people."
Have a story idea? Call B.J. Drye at (704) 982-2121 ext. 25, email email@example.com or follow bjdrye1 on Twitter.