If you come from a large family like Mike Tijan does, you'll understand when he says that you are never alone when you battle cancer.
The Tijan family is composed of ten siblings, their spouses, and their twenty children, and all have been right by Mike's side as he's had to fight Multiple Myeloma cancer for the past eight years.
Mike Tijan said, "I went and told my brothers and sister, explained to them (about the cancer). And I understand, they've got families, they've got their own lives and stuff, but when they got their blood kits (for donating), they all rushed down there as fast as they could."
Mike's father passed away from this same form of cancer many years earlier.
Multiple Myeloma is a type of cancer in the plasma cells of the body, which is normally a white blood cell that aids in producing antibodies. When someone has Multiple Myeloma, collections of abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, and they interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Kidney problems, bone lesions, and high calcium levels are also often encountered.
The cancer is not curable but is treatable.
Mike said the cancer has never bothered him much, until the past few years.
Mike's sister, Teresa Vitovsky, said, "It's hard watching somebody you care for physically be unable to do the things that they did a short time ago."
The good news is, Mike's brother, Andy Tijan, is a blood match. This means that Mike can now have a stem cell transplant, and Andy will be able to provide him with the much-needed stem cells.
Andy Tijan said, "It's a great feeling to have that honor, but it's also humbling in a way. It's like God wanted me to have this experience, and now I have to understand what it means for me."
However, the medical procedure the transplant requires is expensive. To offset the cost, a spaghetti benefit will be held for Mike.
"You can't let it get you down because then what's left, you know? There's no pity parties in this family!" Mike said.
For a good time and to support a good cause, you can attend the benefit this Saturday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Kimball Community Center in Hurley, Wisconsin. There will be raffles, silent auctions, and ticket sales, with a live local band playing in the evening.