12/01/13 — Family looks for help in fighting cancer

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Family looks for help in fighting cancer

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on December 1, 2013 1:50 AM

After years of battling skin cancer that resulted in more than 100 minor surgeries, Bobby Edwards, 48, has now found a battle that he needs more than the usual help to win.

Recently diagnosed with adena squamous-cell carcinoma, Edwards and his family are now looking to the community for financial help to pay for his difficult treatment scheduled in Chapel Hill.

At the end of September, Edwards had found a lump that "felt like a butter bean" under his arm. He went to his blood doctor in Smithfield, who sent him to a specialist in Chapel Hill. There, he was immediately sent into surgery to remove the lymph nodes under his right arm before the cancer spread.

But it didn't work

Edwards fights these days armed with extreme radiation and chemotherapy -- a treatment so intense that it could wipe out the hearing in his right ear and the use of his right arm.

If he didn't do so, there's a good chance he would die, said his sister, Lisa Parker. The treatment has raised his odds of survival to about 50/50.

Yet this isn't the first time Edwards has dealt with cancer. He's been living with skin cancer since 34, and the battle has left its scars, literally.

"If you see him face to face, he keeps his shirts buttoned up and long sleeves rolled down," Mrs. Parker said.

But the treatment hasn't stopped him from living his life. Even with his intense treatment schedule, he still works as operations manager at the Belk department store in Berkeley Mall.

Edwards, originally from Mount Olive, got his first job at Belk when the manager of the Mount Olive store watched a young 15-year-old work hard at raking some leaves in his backyard.

Impressed with the young man's work ethic, the Belk manager brought the teenager with him to work. From there, Edwards worked his way up the corporate ladder at the store, eventually earning a manager's job in Kinston and then in Goldsboro. And he isn't planning on leaving that job despite needing to drive to Chapel Hill every day for radiation treatments.

"He's hard-headed and stubborn. He's still trying to work a few hours every morning," Mrs. Parker said.

Edwards' treatment schedule consists of 33 doses of radiation topped with nine sessions of chemotherapy over a nine week period. His hardest treatment comes on Thursdays where he's hit with both radiation and chemotherapy. He needs both Friday and Saturday to recuperate, but goes back to work on Sunday to round out a five-day-a-week workweek.

"(The radiologist) is trying for the cure. That's why he's doing such a big area in the chest -- do some splatter with it hoping to take care of it. If (the cancer) went down a nerve or got out, if it would go down, it would hit an organ," Edwards said.

"It's a lot of stress. The driving is stressful. I wonder if we are going to get it right this time. We do a lot of hoping and praying," he said.

Despite all the stress, Edwards keeps on working because somehow he has to pay for transportation and treatment costs. His health insurance only covers 80 percent; everything else is out-of-pocket.

"He doesn't even like that we are doing the fundraiser," Mrs. Parker said. "He feels bad that they feel bad for him. He's funny about it, but we told him that they need the financial help."

Eventually, Edwards knows that the treatment will probably stop him from going to work. The combined stress of multiple radiation will make him too "petite" to be able to work.

"The biggest thing is just the expense. If anyone is willing and able to give, they should get in touch with (Mrs. Parker)," he said.

Edwards currently has two ongoing raffles to raise money for the cancer costs. His sister, Mrs. Parker, is organizing a raffle for a number of items donated by local businesses. Raffle tickets cost $5 each or 5 for $20. Prizes range from transmission services to high-valued necklaces and jewelry. The Belk department store that Edwards works at has also donated a $100 gift card for the raffle.

A second raffle is also being organized in which $1 tickets will be sold to raffle off a $300 prize.

Finally, a funding website has also been created at www.gofundme.com/ 5anlbw in case anyone wishes to donate from home. So far, the family has received more than a $1,000 for the "Bobby Edwards Cancer Fund" on the website.

All proceeds of the raffle will go toward Edwards' cancer treatments and travel expenses back and forth from Chapel Hill.

To donate, contact Lisa Parker at 919-920-6917 or send money directly to 206 Deen St. in Mount Olive.

When Edwards is not working or taking treatments, he is spending time with his son, Bryce Edwards, a freshman at Southern Wayne High School, or is working as a Boy Scout troop leader. His wife is Donna Edwards.