Christian rock group strikes chord of hope for cancer patient

April 17, 1994|By Karin Remesch | Karin Remesch,Contributing Writer

When William Wojcik hammers out the word of God in heavy metal rock music Saturday, he will not only be trying to teach people about faith, he'll also be helping raise money for a cancer patient in need of a bone marrow transplant.

"That's what we're here for, that's what we do -- helping others," said Mr. Wojcik, lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for the nonprofit Christian rock band, Two Edged Sword.

The three-man band aims to introduce young people to Christ through religious messages set to progressive hard rock music. The musicians say they are glad to perform this benefit concert to help someone in need.

Proceeds from the 8 p.m. concert in Bel Air United Methodist Church's McComas Hall will go to Mike Foos, a 31-year-old Bel Air man who was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago.

"I was overwhelmed and surprised when I heard about the concert," said Mr. Foos. "It's a great honor, and it will be a great help."

Mr. Foos needs a bone marrow transplant before he can receive higher doses of chemotherapy to treat his cancer.

He is awaiting a surgery date from Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.

Although Mr. Foos' health insurance covers his medical bills, his income has shrunk. Unable to work full days as a credit coordinator for the McCormick Co., he's on partial disability.

His wife, Monica, will have to take an extended unpaid leave of absence from her job as a store manager at Courtland Hardware in Bel Air to be with him in North Carolina.

Mr. Foos is expected to be in the hospital for at least six weeks and possibly three months or more.

"That's why we are so very thankful for the concert. It's such a positive thing to realize how people are opening their hearts to us," said Mrs. Foos, 36.

The idea for the benefit concert came from Mr. Foos' friend and neighbor, Will Chaillou.

"Usually, when I lay awake at night, I pray and sleep will come. But this time I couldn't fall asleep," said Mr. Chaillou, 41, director of Everlasting Rock, a Harford County youth ministry that is sponsoring the benefit concert. "I just kept lying there asking God what he wanted me to do. . . . The answer came -- a benefit concert for Mike -- and I fell asleep."

With Mr. Chaillou at his side, Mr. Foos leans back in an easy chair in the living room of his townhouse and recalls the ordeals he has endured since he was diagnosed with cancer in February 1993.

A sport cap covers his head, hiding the hair loss from monthly chemotherapy sessions.

His hazel eyes are bright and his voice, though quiet, is full of confidence.

"I never had a medical problem before . . . until the headaches started," Mr. Foos said.

He said his doctor first thought the headaches were from an inner ear infection, but when medication didn't ease the pain, MRI tests were prescribed.

"Only as a precaution," Mr. Foos remembers his doctor saying.

"He even bet me money that the test would be negative," he said.

But the results showed that Mr. Foos had medullablastoma, a malignant tumor at the base of the brain rarely found in adults.

"It's a very common pediatric tumor that can occur in adults, but rarely does," said Linda Swallow, a nurse practitioner at the University of Maryland Cancer Center, who often tends to Mr. Foos.

"What makes this tumor different from other brain tumors is that it can spread along the spinal cord and elsewhere in the brain," she said.

The tumor was removed Feb. 6, 1993, and Mr. Foos received radiation treatments for his brain and spine for six weeks, Ms. Swallow said.

By the end of the year, Mr. Foos was experiencing excruciating lower back pain. Tests revealed that his cancer had recurred and spread to his spine.

Since Jan. 3, Mr. Foos has received monthly intravenous chemotherapy treatments. Because his cancer appears to be responding to the chemotherapy, he has become a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. He is going to Duke because doctors there have a transplant program for his type of tumor, Ms. Swallow said.

Mr. Foos' prognosis is uncertain, Ms. Swallow said, adding that in children, medullablastoma has a cure rate of about 50 percent.

Despite the illness, Mr. and Mrs. Foos, who were married two years ago, have not lost faith.

"We really believe this [the cancer] is going to be healed," Mr. Foos said.

"And there's something to be said for the power of positive thinking and the power of prayer. Without it, Mike wouldn't have come this far," Mrs. Foos said.

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