Last summer, Oxford Village resident Eddie Kenny noticed something hard inside his left forearm just above the elbow.
Because he was doing a lot of work restoring outdoor decks as part of a side business, he didn’t pay much attention to it. He thought it was something innocuous caused by the physical strain of his labors.
“It was there, but it wasn’t anything alarming,” said the 2002 Oxford High School graduate. “It never really bothered me unless I bumped it and then it really hurt.”
While taking a shower in November, Kenny said he “felt like something popped” in his arm. Afterward, he began to experience swelling and pain, and developed an infection.
Following a trip to the emergency room, a few visits to various doctors and undergoing a surgical procedure, the 35-year-old received some shocking news that turned his whole world upside down. He was diagnosed with cancer, specifically Ewing sarcoma.
Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of tumor that forms in bone or soft tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, Ewing tumors mostly occur in teenagers, but they can also develop in younger children as well as adults, mainly in their 20s and 30s. In the United States, approximately 200 children and teenagers are diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma annually.
Upon learning the diagnosis, the only thing on Kenny’s mind was his son, Edmund Joseph Kenny IV, or E.J. for short, who’s almost 10 months old now. “I just thought about my kid growing up without a dad,” he said.
But Kenny, the son of Blanche Kenny, co-owner of Sisters’ Hair Care in downtown Oxford, and Edmund Kenny, Jr., isn’t giving up. He’s determined to be there for his infant son. He launched the opening salvo in his war on cancer when he received his first round of chemotherapy the week before Christmas.
Standing by Kenny in his fight are family members and friends who have organized a fund-raiser for him on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Knights of Columbus hall in Orion Township. The address is 1400 Orion Rd.
“It brings tears to your eyes when you’ve got this many people that (are willing) to help you,” Kenny said. “Everyone has been very supportive and everyone’s been reaching out to us (offering) help.”
He said “a lot of people have already donated stuff to the family” and that’s helped make life “a lot less stressful.”
“We’re very, very thankful for that,” Kenny said.
The fund-raiser will begin at 7 p.m. and include food, live music, a 50/50 raffle, silent auction and a cash bar. Tickets are $25 at the door or $20 in advance if purchased at Sisters’ Hair Care located at 19 N. Washington St. The salon number is (248) 628-7520.
“We already have over 200 people saying that they’re coming,” said Tia Arbeiter, one of the event’s organizers and Kenny’s cousin.
Arbeiter, a Clarkston resident and 1995 graduate of Lake Orion High School, promised it will be “a fun evening” to support a man who truly deserves a helping hand.
“He probably has the largest heart of anybody you’ll ever meet,” she said. “He’d give you the shirt off his back if he could. He’s just a good guy, always in a great mood, trying to make everyone around him happy.”
Arbeiter is no stranger to the fight against cancer. Her mother underwent a double mastectomy in October.
“Our whole family’s been on an emotional roller coaster (over) this last year,” she said. “We want to try to help in any way we can.”
Even though Kenny started work last month as an applications engineer and CNC programmer/machinist for Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT) in Detroit and has health insurance, the battle with cancer will place a heavy burden on his finances.
He’s concerned about his ability to help support his infant son as well as his fiancee, Breanna Bebernick, and her two children, Jayce, 7, and Ashtyn, 5.
“We weren’t prepared for any of this stuff,” Kenny said.
He’s already cashed out a 401(k) plan to help pay bills. “It’s scary,” Kenny said.
Kenny’s got a long road ahead of him.
His chemotherapy is expected to last for six to nine months. His cycle consists of two days of treatment at Michigan Medicine (University of Michigan hospital) in Ann Arbor, followed by a two-week break, then five straight days of treatment and another two-week break.
Kenny is quite concerned about how the chemotherapy is going to affect him and his ability to work at both LIFT and his side business, Kenny’s Quality Deck Restoration and Home Improvements.
Referring to the latter, he said, “I have lots of work to do right now for that company, but I can’t do it. I have a whole house to remodel.”
Fortunately, the homeowner has been very understanding, Kenny added, but depending on his health, he might “end up having to contract a lot of (the work) out” and “pretty much not make anything off of it.”
Kenny said the first two days of chemotherapy “knocked” him on his “butt” and put him “out of commission” for “seven straight days.”
“It was a living hell,” said Kenny, who began his first five-day treatment on Jan. 8.
He noted “it’s easy to stay positive,” as everyone has been telling him to do, when he’s feeling good, but once the side effects of the chemotherapy hit, “there’s absolutely nothing you can do to feel better.”
“You feel like hell,” Kenny said. “I didn’t know that a human could possibly feel that miserable. It sucks the life out of you. It really does.”
For more information about the Feb. 16 fund-raiser for Kenny or to make a donation, contact Arbeiter by calling (248) 506-5991 or sending an email to email@example.com.
“I just want to say thank you to everybody that’s helping out. It means the world to our family,” Kenny said. “I’m blessed. God bless everyone for helping us.”