Fraser Valley comes together to support local man suffering from brain cancer
May 21, 2018
Dozens of Fraser Valley residents packed into the Crooked Creek Saloon in Fraser on Friday afternoon to help raise money for John Feltz, a Fraser local who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.
The event featured live music, a silent auction, trivia and more, all to help Feltz and his family cover his extensive medical bills and lost wages.
"The community here is just unbelievable," said Feltz. "It's crazy how people help everyone around here. That's why we live here, it's like living in a bubble."
Feltz, 52, grew up in Milwaukee, but moved to Grand County more than 20 years ago to ski and become a commercial rafting guide. It was in Fraser that he met his wife, Juliana, and the two raised their children: nine-year-old Jack and six-year-old Tori.
“We have no history of cancer in our family at all. It came out of the blue. I watched the Super Bowl and went skiing the day before. It just all happened really fast.”
Feltz has been working as a bartender at the Crooked Creek Saloon for 14 years, but this February began to experience massive headaches.
"I just had a headache one night at work," recalls Feltz. "I went home and went to the doctor the next day. They thought it was migraines, but I spoke to [Juliana's] brother who is a surgeon, and he said to go get a scan. I went in and they found a mass."
Feltz was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a stage-3 brain cancer, and didn't leave the hospital for almost a month. Three days after his diagnosis he underwent a five-hour surgery to remove the tumor at Boulder Community Health.
"I was in disbelief," said Feltz. "We have no history of cancer in our family at all. It came out of the blue. I watched the Super Bowl and went skiing the day before. It just all happened really fast."
Since then Feltz has undergone 33 days of radiation treatments, which required daily trips to the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Boulder, and he's about to begin a six-month regiment of chemotherapy in June.
The Feltz family is optimistic that he will make a full recovery, though they understand that stage 3 astrocytomas often recur following treatment.
"Three years ago, this might have been a death sentence," said Juliana. "Nowadays they test the genetic markers of the tumor and the mutations they find can help improve the prognosis, and determine the best type of chemo they can apply to those types of cells. So we're optimistic, but we know that in two years, or 10 or maybe 15 something could come back."
Feltz has been out of work since the diagnosis, but friends and family have rallied around him to help with the financial burdens he and his family is facing. Over the last three months, more than $12,400 has been raised via GoFundMe, as well as all the money raised during the Crooked Creek event.
"I never expected this," said an emotional Juliana. "I don't like coming out to ask people for help, but it's overwhelming to have the community on our side. They're helping with the kids, with the benefits, with rides. They've really come together as a community to reach out. And that's really incredible."
To donate to Feltz's cause, visit gofundme.com/johnfeltzmedicalexpensefund.