Terminally ill and living in a Racine motel, Kevin Cronin posts memes about wanting to be as fat as his cat Angel, that he didn’t know that in the first episode of the television show Happy Days that Arnold’s was actually called Arthur’s, and that he no longer requires his visitors to bring him cookies – seven dozen is enough.
He’s posting the status updates often because he wants his friends and family to know that he’s still alive.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September, these are not the posts of a man who has decided to just curl up and die in a motel room. He’s focused and positive. He’s working hard to stay strong, and his support system is quite extensive.
“I want to keep as active as possible, and I’m praying and hoping that something will happen, that if stuff just remains the same as it is and doesn’t get any worse, I can keep going,” Cronin said.
What The Doctors Say
But, things haven’t been staying the same. Doctors found lesions on his liver, and they didn’t know if they were cancerous or not. Because of where the lesions are located, several surgeons said the biopsy procedure was too high risk because Cronin could die during the surgery.
He didn’t consent to having the operation and instead started chemotherapy treatments. After three rounds, Cronin had felt fine until just before a Nov. 16 benefit event that he was scheduled to attend.
With his blood pressure low, Cronin passed out, and the doctors at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee said he had a bad infection, but they couldn’t isolate its location.
“They had me in the hospital for 25 days, even though most of the time I was in there I was fine,” Cronin said.
Moving Into The Motel
No one really knows the current status of Cronin’s cancer; whether it’s grown, stayed the same or shrunk.
The doctors planned to check after his fourth chemotherapy treatment, but Cronin never had that fourth treatment because he went to Froedtert in November. The doctors there ordered CT scans that focused on his liver, not his pancreas, and told him that because he was taking antibiotics, they couldn’t continue the chemotherapy. He also had not consented to the liver biopsy so there was nothing else they could do for him.
“They told me I needed to seek hospice care,” he said. “But I’m not ready to call it quits because I feel fine.”
Cronin is now staying in a local motel with his cat, Angel. He’s paid up through Jan. 10 and he’s focused on making it to the Governor Scott Walker’s Inaugural Ball on Jan. 5.
Friends Come To Help
Kevin doesn’t recall when he started receiving so much help, but there are two groups called “Friends and Family of Kevin.”
The groups have held several benefits for him; most of the money was used to pay off his medical care from Wheaton Franciscan Hospital and the bill from his stay at a local motel, where he is currently living.
Cronin doesn’t have a lot of money coming in now, only the payout from a short-term disability policy he has through Case IH, where he’s worked for the past year.
“I’m thankful that I’m getting that, but compared to what my paycheck was, it’s not much “ Cronin said.
Cronin is a Racine native, and he played football and softball, wrestled and ran track. He graduated from Park High School when he was 16 in 1981. Over the years he has also been active in the Racine County Republican Party. A number of Cronin’s Democratic friends have also stopped by to visit.
People from both groups have organized benefits, brought him food, given him rides to the hospital, and come for visits. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch have called Cronin a few times, state Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) has come to visit him, and Gov. Scott Walker sent him a photo.
“He’s staying in a motel and that’s symbolic, right? He’s moving on to whatever that next adventure is and hopefully that involves him beating this,” D’Abbroccio said. “He’s a good guy, I wish I could do more to help. I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer and I wished I could have done more to help him too.”
Not Giving Up
Cronin’s friends are also helping him seek treatment from other doctors, including at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Waukegan, IL. Doctors there also told him they would treat his liver first before they could treat the cancer in his liver.
“They say that if there’s an infection in the liver that they can’t give me any treatment and they would have to operate on my liver, which is what I wouldn’t consent to because of the high risk involved,” Cronin said. “I was told by too many surgeons that I probably wouldn’t survive it.”
He isn’t taking any medication now — not for pain or any type of treatment — and he feels like he’s getting stronger because his appetite has gotten better. He has put on a couple of pounds, lifts small weights and walks short distances.
“I’ve been keeping my spirits up the whole time,” Cronin said. “I’m not just going to lay down and die no matter what they tell me. But if there’s nothing else I can do, there’s nothing else I can do. I don’t want to spend my last days in the hospital.”
He wishes the cancer wasn’t happening, but he’s fine with living in the motel. He didn’t really see that he had too many other options because his house needed too many repairs so it was sold while he was in the hospital and he had no place to go.
Still, Cronin is not giving up hope. He’s got an appointment with a doctor from Aurora in a week. For now, he’s focused on spending time with Angel, his friends and family, and watching movies.
“I’ve got hundreds of people helping me out,” Cronin said with a smile.