Tuesday, December 10, 2013
(Continued from page 2)
Damon Haggan, 18, of Belgrade was diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma in May. He plans to marry his girlfriend of two years in November.
Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans
Damon Haggan, 18, of Belgrade has been diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the internal organs. Mesothelioma is rare, occurring in one of 100,000 people.
His medical care is covered by insurance, but his family is struggling to pay associated costs, such as the unpaid time off for travel to medical centers in Boston. He is also seeking support for his wedding, planned for November.
The family asks donors to send contributions to the Damon Haggan Cancer Fund at TD Bank, or to donate online at www.gofundme.com/damon-haggan-mesothelioma.
“I’m gonna have my black steel-toed boots, black Carhartts, camo vest and tie with camo jacket, a camo hat,” he said. His camouflage sunglasses are in the mail.
Fournier, a thin girl with freckles and a ready smile, said she and Haggan love each other and had planned a relationship that would last far into the future.
“I was hoping it would,” she said. “But ...”
If he undergoes chemotherapy, his sperm will no longer be viable, so he’s also scheduling an appointment with a sperm bank. When Fournier is ready, he said, he wants her to bear his child.
“I’m not dying without a kid,” he said.
Haggan has a habit of asserting that things will happen the way he wants them to.
“I will have kids. That I will,” he said. “I don’t care what anybody says.”
Fournier said she hasn’t thought about when she might get pregnant, because she is trying to stay positive about Haggan’s future.
He’s got another goal, but he’s not sure whether he’ll be able to accomplish it. In November, Haggan’s father died in a car accident. The car, a ’94 Mustang GT convertible, was ruined, but Haggan saved the motor and the transmission. He would love, he said, to rebuild those parts into a fully functioning car that would honor his father’s memory, and be around long into the future.
But Haggan’s ability to accomplish these goals — wedding, child, car restoration — are limited in part by what he and his family can afford.
Even though his medical bills are covered by MaineCare, the family budget is being strained.
His mother has already taken three weeks of unpaid time off from work so that she could take Haggan to Boston for 10 days worth of medical treatments. In all, that trip cost them $2,000 out of pocket. They expect more costs in the future.
That means his mother can offer him only limited help with his other plans. So far, they have been unable to raise the $300 deposit at his favored wedding venue in Strong.
“It will be the Foster Memorial Building in Strong,” he said, another assertion. “The wedding and the reception. That’s where it will be.”
He said it will cost him about $350 for the first year of storage at the sperm bank, and about $700 every year thereafter. He doesn’t know what it would cost to rebuild his father’s car, but he knows it will be significant.
Haggan said he is maintaining a positive attitude and continuing to do the things that he loves. He said he is willing to share his experiences and thoughts in the hopes that it might help others with similar diagnoses.
He won’t make his own predictions about how long he will live with the cancer inside him. For him, a young person who has spent his life testing limits, the number of months he has is not as important as maintaining control over the decisions left to him.
He will decide when the time comes, he said.
“When I can’t take it no more,” he said, “I just lay down and relax.”
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287