words: Mark Clavin
Simply put, Gerhard Gross is the man. He is also a huge snowboard nerd, but that is one of the most endearing things about him. As a past managing editor and longtime member of the TransWorld SNOWboarding family, his name has been plastered throughout our magazine and website 10,000 times over. He even snagged a cover or two in his time as a pro rider with K2. With every word he wrote and turn he made during his time at the helm, he put snowboarding first and always took the audience along with him.
Now we are reaching out to help give back to a guy that has given us so much. Gerhard was diagnosed with cancer last year and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help him, his wife Kristen, and his 18-month-old son, Gerhard the fourth, with all of the financial battles that come with treatments as well as the new challenges still to come.
From all of us at TransWorld and the extended snowboard community, we wish you a speedy recovery and we can’t wait to see you back up on the mountain and in the office! Even when you are correcting our grammar and catching mistakes in our write-ups, you are hands down one of the most positive individuals we have ever met. Thanks for everything Gerhard! Details below.
Friends of Gerhard and Kristen,
Last Christmas, Gerhard was given 12 months to live with stage 4 stomach cancer -- a devastating diagnosis only 4% of people survive. Determined that that 4% would be him, he made immediate changes to his diet, started meditation, yoga, and practiced every holistic treatment he could in addition to chemotherapy.
After six rounds of treatment, a CT scan and laparoscopic exploration couldn't find signs of the cancer outside his stomach anywhere. His doctors said this was miracle. One more round of chemo, and they set a date four weeks later (time needed to recover from chemo) to remove Gerhard's stomach, a drastic but potentially curative surgery.
May 15 was to be a major milestone, and instead, it was the start of a tough road. Once the surgeon opened him from his breastbone to his belly button, she detected tumor nodularity studding Gerhard's peritoneum, one of this cancer's most complicated metastases, which comes with a terrible survival rate. They had no choice but to close him back up without removing his stomach, then hope it didn't advance further while he recovered from his incision. He was re-staged back to 4, and more chemotherapy was scheduled. Once again, his treatment was effective, and he was soon back to feeling great, eating well, and gaining weight.
A new CT scan in September again raised hopes -- they could see no signs of cancer whatsoever! It was incredible news, hard to believe but amazing nonetheless. They stopped chemo again with plans to continue a maintenance chemo program four weeks later.
But once again, when given even the slightest window, Gerhard's aggressive cancer found a way to rise up. Gerhard found himself in the ER with a dangerous small-bowel blockage in September, and again in November. Scans to see what was going on showed that the cancer had advanced and since then has not shown any signs of real change, even while on his second line of chemotherapy.
Our hope now lies with a clinical trial. Gerhard is helping to test an immunotherapy that blocks the pathways of the cancer’s communication and ability to spread. At the very least, he is helping doctors and scientists improve the odds for people diagnosed in the future. Since his cancer is hereditary, there is a 50/50 chance that his son, Gerhard may also be affected. Best case scenario, he will get his disease under control and managed for more time together. This treatment started November 15. The patient on the trial the longest so far has experienced durable results for over 17 months with no known side effects--results we hope to see for Gerhard too.
A big part of Gerhard’s motivation to beat this devastating disease is his family, which includes his wife, Kristen, and his 18-month-old son, Gerhard the fourth. Most of all, he wants to continue to be a husband and the father his son needs for as long as he can.
To devote the energy he needs to his healing and this trial, Gerhard has taken a leave of absence from work and we are raising money for him and his family for treatment, travel to treatment, and to ease the burden of financial stresses that comes with this difficult time.