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Farmington Hills

August 27, 2014

Fundraiser set for local man to offset medical expenses

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Tom Hunsberger and his wife, Lois, pose for a photograph during a wedding.

FARMINGTON HILLS — It wasn’t until Tom Hunsberger, 42, of Farmington Hills, woke up on a CT scan table July 14 at Botsford Hospital that he discovered a cancerous tumor had been removed from his brain after bouts of seizures sent him to the hospital.

“You certainly don’t think it is going to happen to you,” Hunsberger said Aug. 12 at his job at Lieblich’s Nine & Middlebelt Marathon, 29450 W. Nine Mile Road, where he works as a service rater. “I didn’t know I was having a seizure, or anything else was going on. The first thought was, ‘You have this wrong, you’ve got the wrong guy, maybe it’s food poisoning.’ The doctors came in and actually had to show me what was going on.”

Hunsberger’s MRI and CT scan results showed that he had glioblastoma multiforme, the most common cancerous brain tumor.

“Stage four cancer is never easy, but when you have a supportive group around you like I do, it makes it so much easier,” he said.

Hunsberger’s wife of 18 years, Lois, his three children — ages 14, 17 and 19 — his boss, Howard Lieblich, and many community members have banded together to help him financially and emotionally through an upcoming fundraiser.

“He is the type of person that is very proud,” Lois said the same day at a nearby coffee shop. “He loves his family, would help anybody. They don’t even have to ask. He likes working in the community. That is part of what keeps him going forward to fight this. He loves helping people at his work. That is what he does. People come in, have problems, and he helps them.”

Now it is time for him to receive a bit of help in return.

From noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 14 at Country Lanes, 30250 W. Nine Mile Road, a fundraiser is set to help the family with medical bills and expenses.

For $25, attendees can play three games, and the price includes shoe rental, pizza, pop and more.

Donations may also be made through gofundme.com/tomsfight, where $405 of $3,000 had been raised as of Aug. 22.

Lois, holding back her emotions, said that she hopes people attend the fundraiser so her husband sees that he is not alone, along with bringing awareness to these type of tumors.

“Our friends and family have been very supportive,” she said.

Hunsberger said that he has no choice but to stay positive.

“It is a gift, it really is,” he said of life. “Embrace everyone around you that supports you. Take care of those that take care of you.”

Lieblich, who attended Hunsberger’s wedding and the birth of this three children, teared up in his office near his employee of nearly 20 years, as his hands, lightly covered in motor oil residue, gestured emphatically to encompass Hunsberger and the shop as he talked about Hunsberger’s character.

“I’ve made my life this, and it is nice to see people who care about what they do and like what they do,” he said. (Hunsberger) has a great passion for life. He’s got a family. I get choked up — it is really easy for me. It takes you by shock when something happens.”

Hunsberger, who likes to ride his motorcycle in the summer and snowmobile in the winter, seemingly has the same effect on his neighbors.

Susan Nelson-Jiles, neighbor to Hunsberger, said he embodies a perfect neighbor.

“I found an incredible person in him,” she said sitting next to Lois, sipping coffee. “As soon as I moved into the neighborhood and had power outage after a storm, he ran a line across the street so we had power.”

Those are just one of many stories Nelson-Jiles said she has of her neighbor, for whom she often cooks dinner.

Hunsberger, who has 23 radiation treatments — with 21 to go — along with more than 40 pills to take, said he looks at his medical journey as a challenge.

“If you look at it in a way that, ‘(I’m) not going to let it beat (me), I’m going to beat this,’ then I’m going to move on with my life,” he said, holding the chicken salad his wife made for him for lunch. “Life is like a toilet paper roll. As it gets smaller it spins faster … every day I wonder where am I at on that roll.”

“He is strong and he is ready to fight for his life and his family,” Lois said with fire, a twinkle in her eye.

For more information or to register to bowl, email lizhenry83@yahoo.com or call (248) 476-3201.