Relief for Eef
When Jon and Lisa Efraimson tied the knot this past June, it was the happiest day of their lives, and it was supposed to be just the beginning of a fairy-tale life together. Unfortunately, like in the fairy tales, sometimes in life you have to fight the monsters before you can reach a happily-ever-after ending.The Efraimsons’ monsters began the day they returned from their honeymoon in Hawaii and continued coming throughout the summer with merciless speed. A premature birth claimed the life of their baby boy, Owen Daniel Efraimson, just days after the newlyweds returned to the Vail Valley. And then Jon Efraimson noticed some strange sounds in his lungs.The diagnosis was not promising. He was told he had Adenocarcinoma, a form of non-small-cell lung cancer, and his doctor did not give him much hope for fighting his stage four cancer.Time to close the book and give up on this fairy tale? Not for Jon "Eef" Efraimson."All my life I’ve enjoyed challenges," Efraimson wrote recently to friends. "There have been times in my life where I’ve set goals to achieve or looked for my next challenge. I think I’ve found it; right now, it’s to beat cancer. After I do that, most everything will seem pretty easy."To help Efraimson in his fight, the Vail Valley Charitable Fund will host a fundraiser this Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Kaltenberg Castle in Vail. From 6:30-10:30 p.m., Relief for Eef promises to be oneof the most festive pre-ski season events around, with beers, hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment in the form of the popular Harry Baxter Band and a silent auction.As Efraimson says, "It should be a lot of fun."Kate Carey, director of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund and a close friend of the Efraimsons, says Efraimson has been generous to the community in the past, both personally and through his video/television production company, Eef Productions. "Over the years, he has contributed selflessly to a myriad of nonprofit causes. Now it’s our turn to try to help him to the extent we can."Relief for Eef will not only be a lot of fun, it will be informative. There will be video presentations on cancer awareness, including information from the Lance Armstrong Foundation and a rumored appearance (not confirmed at press time) by the Tour de France king himself, Lance Armstrong, the first cancer survivor ever to win the fabled bike race.In addition, there will be a slew of quality merchandise and goodies available in the silent auction, such as a seasons ski pass, trips, golf passes, a Dagger kayak, skis and outerwear and gift certificates for services, restaurants, activities and lodging."Vail Valley businesses have been very generous," says Vail Valley Charitable Fund volunteer Pavan Krueger, another close family friend. "So many people know and love Jon and Lisa."Not one to sit back and except bad news lying down, Efraimson has been busy learning as much as he can about his disease. He has come up with his own blend of treatments, including experimental and traditional cancer treatments, yoga classes, acupuncture, visualization, a healthy lifestyle and a large dose of faith.Not satisfied with his first doctor’s prognosis, Efraimson quickly e-mailed doctors at the University of Colorado’s new Anschutz Cancer Center in Denver for their advice. Within days, Efraimson was admitted into a clinical trial, where he is receiving the experimental drug C-225 or Erbitux every week, as well as traditional chemotherapy every third week. His last check-up proffered the most promising news he’s had in a while. The CAT scan showed the cancer had stabilized it had not grown or spread further."At first, I was disappointed, for as hard as I have been working and thinking, I expected everything to be getting smaller," admits Efraimson. But his doctor explained that this early in the treatment,stabilization is an "excellent and perfect" result. "I am now very happy I had good results and will continue to work hard to beat this disease."Efraimson says he usually has lots of energy and has begun feeling, at times, the best he has ever felt. In fact, he recently reached his goals of biking Vail Pass and playing two rounds of golf before winter."I feel great most of the time," Efraimson says. "Cancer is not what people think, if you have a good attitude, eat healthy and exercise."As prevalent as lung cancer is, however it kills more Americans than any other cancer it still seems to carry a stigma that makes getting research funding difficult and can further isolate already suffering victims."A lot of people think you deserve it," Efraimson says. While breast cancer got $9,000 per death per year in research funding last year, lung cancer received only $900 for research. Yet, lung cancer accounts for 28 percent of all cancer-related deaths and an estimated 154,900 people will die from lung cancer in 2002, versus 39,600 who will contract breast cancer or 56,600 who will die from colon/rectal cancer.Although some 87 percent of those who contract lung cancer are smokers or reformed smokers, many have never touched a cigarette. Efraimson is a perfect example. A healthy 36-year-old, he has never smoked a day in his life and has no idea why he contracted the disease."Most people are supportive, but some people don’t know how to talk to people with cancer, and avoid them," Efraimson says. Even though, points out Efraimson, statistics show that one in every threepeople will be touched by cancer at some point in their lives. "If anything on Saturday night I hope people will be a little bit more aware of it. If you do get cancer, it is not a death sentence."Tickets for Relief for Eef are $20 per person, and monies raised will go to offset the Efraimsons’ mounting expenses. The Vail Valley Charitable Fund also will retain 10 percent of the proceeds tocontinue to provide smaller monthly grants for community members in need.Individuals unable to attend Relief for Eef (Kaltenberg Castle in Vail, Saturday, Nov. 9, 6:30-10:30 p.m.) who would still like to make a contribution can do so by sending a check to: Vail Valley Charitable Fund, P.O. Box 3861, Eagle, CO, 81631. Write Jon Efraimson or Relief for Eef in the memo field of the check; a tax-deductible receipt will be mailed in return.
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