Since the discovery of a tumor in Vincent Helmers brain, he and his family have received an outpouring of support from the lakes area communities.
But the 2019 Frazee High School graduate still has a long way to go.
In a follow-up email on June 4, Helmers shared that Vincent’s ventricles did reopen. They are very small, but open.
“They just completed his fifth day of chemotherapy yesterday. They gave him two extra days worth since he was taking the chemo so well,” Helmers said.
Even though there has been an improvement in the ventricles, the tumor did grow slightly. Vincent isn’t 100 percent conscious and hasn’t opened his eyes or said anything. Doctors are considering another brain surgery to make sure the spinal fluid is draining properly.
“He is having Neuro Storms, which is a common occurrence when someone has severe brain trauma. These can last days, weeks, or even months. Neurology explained that they send false signals to his body; increasing heart rate, blood pressure, (and) body temperature,” Thaddeus said. “Neurology also explained that is why he is so tired, because a Neuro Storm is like running a marathon. He has several as these storms at night and has one or two during the day.”
To help the family with the bills that have already accrued in the past few weeks, Active Nutrition’s Dani Leach and Elisa Harmon decided to host a benefit for them. They offered pancakes and cookie dough shakes May 31.
“We did it to help them out because they’re our regulars and they’re from the community, not to mention that they're a military family. Anything we can do to help out with their added expenses is why we’re doing it,” Leach said.
They chose to offer pancakes because it’s Vincent’s favorite breakfast food, and cookie dough is his favorite flavor of ice cream.
“I’m still blown away that we put something together on Tuesday, sent it out on Wednesday, and it blew up on Thursday. . . Just watching it go from ‘this is what we’re going to do’ and then be like ‘holy crap how are we going to do this’ is just amazing,” Leach said.
“There was over 300 people that walked through the doors. We served 264,” Leach said. “Our total donation as of right now is $2,100.”
Leach is grateful for the amount of community that came out to support the Helmers family and the event, saying that she is still overwhelmed and blown away by it.
“It’s so good to see. It’s a terrible reason for everybody to come together, but it’s so good to see everyone that came together to help out a family in need,” Leach said.
The community showed up for the Helmers family all day May 31, gathering at Harvest Fellowship Church in Frazee later that evening for a community-wide prayer. The event was live-streamed on Facebook, getting 1,400 views and more than 40 comments - many of them being prayers for Vincent.
“However the community wants to help, that’s great,” Helmers said last week. Since then, his family has received an outpouring of support.
For continued help and support, the family has a GoFundMe page set up. The page has a little over $6,000 to go before it reaches it’s $15,000 goal. The link to the GoFundMe is https://www.gofundme.com/for-vincent-helmers?u=21794634&fbclid=IwAR3Kae254LGRcGfKBmb_YMizqTCDPxf0z15c8M3Vt3FTOUEOqr8F1AhzQDI.
Active Nutrition is hosting a benefit to help the family of 2019 Frazee High School graduate Vincent Helmers. Less than two weeks before his high school graduation, doctors found a serious tumor in Vincent's brain.
"May 7th he complained of headaches, we thought it was a migraine. We took him in, they did a CT scan and when they did the scan they could see that there was a large mass the size of a golf ball in the very middle of his brain," said Vincent's father, Thaddeus Helmers. "It's deep inside the brain, a lot of his motor functions, his vision, a lot of that is all controlled in that area. It's right behind the pineal gland."
Vincent's first brain surgery was on May 9, where the goal was to drain the backed up spinal fluid and take a small sample of the tumor to test it.
"The spinal fluid came back with certain markers inside of it that showed that it was a germ cell tumor," said Thaddeus.
After the first surgery, the doctors sent Vincent back home. During the practice for his high school graduation, Vincent bumped his head, which caused spinal fluid to start leaking from his stitches. His family took him back to the hospital, where they restitched the incision and were told that if it leaked again, he needed to come back.
On May 19, Vincent walked through graduation at Frazee High School. Four days later, on May 23, his incision started leaking again. This time, the doctors installed a shunt to drain spinal fluid out of his brain.
"So we took him back this past Monday ... because he couldn't walk anymore on his own. That's when they did that third surgery," said Thaddeus. "The shunt worked too well and drained one of the ventricles inside of his brain, it actually collapsed, which is a bad thing."
To recover the collapsed ventricle, the doctors put a catheter in to relieve some pressure. They also did another CT scan immediately after that surgery, which showed that there were actually two collapsed ventricles, which is devastating. So the doctors took him back in for surgery.
"That was the last brain surgery and we're praying that that's the last one," said Thaddeus.
After that last surgery, the doctors were still concerned that there was something else. They did a full MRI of Vincent's spine, where they found something.
"They didn't say it was a tumor, they said it was an area of strong concern. At that point in time, they said they were going to treat it as though it was cancerous. It's a tough tumor to get rid of," said Thaddeus.
The plan was to start chemotherapy, but originally the doctors had to wait seven days after brain surgery to start. Vincent's vital signs have been sporadic though, which changed the doctor's mind on when to start chemotherapy.
"The benefits outweigh the risks at this point because they physically ran out of options," said Thaddeus. "[Vincent's] fighting, he's a tough kid. He still gives a thumbs up, he's not talking, but he can put his thumb up and tell us that he's still there. The surgeons and the other doctors are pretty impressed with his neural abilities thus far. They just can't get his vitals to calm down."
To help the family with the bills that have already accrued in the past few weeks, Active Nutrition's Dani Leach and Elisa Herman decided to hold a benefit for them. On Friday, May 31 from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., they will be offering pancakes and a cookie dough shake.
"We're doing it to help them out because they're our regulars and they're from the community, not to mention that they're a military family. Anything we can do to help out with their added expenses is why we're doing it," said co-creator Dani Leach.
"I'm good friends with Kristin (Vincent's mother). It seemed right for us to help them out, that's every mom's worst nightmare," said Leach.
They chose to offer pancakes because it's Vincent's favorite breakfast food, and cookie dough is his favorite flavor of ice cream. All the proceeds from the cakes and shakes will be going back to their family.
"We're doing a boosted tea if they do a cash donation above and beyond the cakes and shakes. If you just want to stop in and donate cash that's totally fine too. We actually have a jar set aside just for tomorrow. We've already had some donations today," said Leach.
"However the community wants to help, that's great," said Thaddeus.
For those who can't make it to the event, a GoFundMe page has also been set up for the family. The page has a little under $10,000 to go before it reaches it's $15,000 goal. The link to the GoFundMe is https://www.gofundme.com/for-vincent-helmers?u=21794634&fbclid=IwAR3Kae2....