SPRING HILL — Kevin Youse has borne some unexpected career setbacks during the past year. Now, at age 41, he is fighting for his life.
After 22 years in sales for an organic chemical company near Reading, Pa., Youse was transferred to Florida in August. Then the company downsized and his position was eliminated.
He got a job as patient transporter at Spring Hill Regional Hospital. But then, one night while he was at work, he passed out.
A series of medical tests revealed no heart or lung or other health problems. So with a clean bill of health, Youse began looking for more lucrative employment to support his family of four. He found it two months later as a broker with the DeBolt Co., representing 28 products to clients along Florida's west coast, similar to his job back in Pennsylvania with Misco Products.
But soon, he began suffering back and chest pains, so he went for another health check.
"Shocked" is how Youse described his feelings when the doctor told him to get his affairs in order.
Masses were detected in his lungs. Further examination established that the aggressive, stage 4 cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and bones.
The prognosis is not good.
In the short time Youse; his wife, Dana, and their sons, Nicholas, 13, and Demetri, 10, have lived in Spring Hill, they've become known as "good guys," said friend Charlotte Johnson. The family has friends from their neighborhood, from Youse's places of work, a soccer team he coached and other new acquaintances.
Those friends have come together to help the family with a community fundraising dinner and dance, dubbed "Help Kevin," which will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10209 on Edward R. Noll Drive, off Anderson Snow Road.
Only recently having obtained Social Security disability and Medicaid benefits, Youse, a nonsmoker, has had to pay some $50,000 out of pocket for medical care. Although he was without health insurance when diagnosed, an oncologist at Florida Cancer Institute-New Hope in Spring Hill immediately took on his care and has provided two chemotherapy treatments at no cost, Youse said.
The Youse family is expected to attend Sunday's event, which will feature an Italian dinner; entertainment by guitarist and folk singer Cliff Ritchie, vocalist Gwendolyn Battle and comedians; music for dancing, and raffles of items and coupons donated by various businesses.
Tickets are $20 at the door.
"We have 200 tickets to sell," said Johnson, who is leading the planning team, along with Stephanie Vasquez. Both women were co-workers with Youse at Spring Hill Regional Hospital.
With food preparation by the VFW and a reduced rate for the hall rental, Johnson said, "After our out-of-pocket expenses, we'll give everything to the family."
Youse himself is coping. He said his diagnosis left him in disbelief.
"I couldn't believe it was happening," he said. "It's still kind of hard to digest at some times.
"We just have to keep fighting."
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.