Pub crawl fights rare cancer

After 500 tumors were pulled from his body, every birthday became more precious to Keith Surges. This year, instead of celebrating with candles and cake, Surges is fighting for future generations.

Join Surges and his family, friends and life-changing surgeon Dr. George Salti at the second Crawl for a Cure August 23 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. in downtown Naperville.

Last year’s crawl was a huge success, raising more than $8,700 for Dr. Salti’s research on Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) through Edward Hospital.

“It was great for me to see cancer survivors, patients and families—not in a hospital setting, but in a bar having fun,” said Dr. Salti.

Surges is still able to attend the event largely due to the work of Dr. Salti. Diagnosed with appendix cancer and pseudomyxoma peritonei in 2010, Surges underwent a 12-hour HIPEC surgery performed by Dr. Salti the next year. The operation is a painful memory for Surges.

“They removed eight or ten organs,” he said, pausing to ask his wife Therese Surges which organs were removed. “Part of my liver, my spleen, gallbladder, half of my colon, a third of my stomach, the appendix.”

Surges says he felt ‘great’ a few months after the operation. He played golf and ate his favorite foods. Unfortunately, the cancer returned and he has been on hospice since January 31, living on an all-liquid diet.

The HIPEC surgery, which involves the removal of tumors and the chemical washing of organs, did not stop the cancer from coming back. It did, however, give Surges some more birthdays.

“It gave him a quality of life he never would’ve had for the past 3 years,” said Therese.

“He’s living the way that he knows best,” said Kimberly Ballard, Surges’ daughter. “By making sure those around him—my mom, myself and his grandchildren—are taken care of.”

Surges is making the most of his time gained from HIPEC. He wrote a ‘maintenance book’ for Therese, to help her ‘keep the house in tip-top shape.’ The couple renewed their vows and went on multiple ‘honeymoons.’ Surges even recorded a video of himself for his grandchildren.

“I’m going to lose my husband,” said Therese. “On his birthday, he’ll be 59 years old; that’s too young.”

“I know I can’t cure my dad…as much as I wish I could,” said Ballard, who coordinates the Crawl for a Cure.

Although his cancer is terminal, Surges, along with his family and Dr. Salti, is fighting appendix cancer for future generations. This year’s Crawl for a Cure has nearly met its fundraising goal of $5,000. Therese wants the event to do more than gather money; she wants it to raise awareness.

“It’s not a well-known disease,” she said. “There are too many physicians who don’t have a clue about it, and only a handful of surgeons across the country perform this surgery. The more that it’s in people’s faces, the more doctors will pay attention.”

The Crawl for a Cure will begin at Quigley’s Irish Pub and move to Peanuts, Jimmy’s Bar & Grill and the Wise Boxer Pour House. Registration is $20 per person, with all proceeds benefitting Dr. Salti’s cancer research. There will be prizes, including a 10-person wine tasting at Tasting DeVine in Naperville. All participants must register online by August 15. For event details and registration, visit teamkeithforthecure.wordpress.com/.

“We praise Dr. Salti as a hero to our family for giving us time that we weren’t going to get,” said Ballard. “But Dr. Salti’s always quick to respond…”

“No, the cancer patients—they’re the heroes,” said Dr. Salti.

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Crawl for a Cure Schedule

2 p.m.: Quigley’s Irish Pub at 43 E Jefferson
4 p.m. : Peanuts at 22 Chicago Ave.
5:15 p.m.: Jimmy’s Bar & Grill at 242 S Washington St.
6:45 p.m.: Wise Boxer Pour House at 16 W Jefferson
8 p.m. : Jackson Avenue Pub at 7 W Jackson

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