Despite being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, 35-year-old Ben Anderson and his family of Blackhoof remain close, happy and strong.
Ben’s battle is not his alone. Every step of the way his wife, Angie, is by his side. Ben and Angie were high school sweethearts, graduating from Moose Lake High School in 1995 and 1997, respectively. They were married in 1998. “It was the hardest three years not being able to marry her,” Ben said during a March 15 interview at the family’s home. The couple has four children, 11-year-old Nicole, 9-year-old Sydney, 7-year-old Josh and 5-year-old Levi.
Ben was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on December 23, 2011. Doctors, however, are estimating he’s had the tumor for much longer. “Mayo (Clinic) is guessing the tumor is about 6-10 years old because of the size and that it’s slow growing,” Ben said. “It hadn’t caused any symptoms for so long.”
When Ben first began having symptoms, he was working as a hydraulics design engineer for Exodus Machines in Superior, Wisconsin. “Sometimes I would have seizures that I wouldn’t even notice and sometimes when I would try to speak, I couldn’t.
“I would give presentations at work and had a co-worker helping (ready to jump in if Ben had a seizure during the presentation).”
“He also has some memory issues,” Angie said.
Angie described Ben’s seizures, “He’d stop and he’d be gone — white as a ghost and gone.”
“I can hear that she’s talking, but I don’t know what she’s saying,” Ben added.
The tumor cannot be surgically removed, at least not completely. According to Ben and Angie, doctors could maybe remove 40 percent to 60 percent of the tumor. “The issue isn’t the type of tumor, but where it’s located — wrapped around a blood vessel and inside far enough where they can’t take it out,” Angie said.
With this in mind, they made the decision to move away from conventional medicine and opt for alternative treatments.
The treatments include the use of a Rife machine, which Angie explained as generating frequency signals intended to kill cells that make up the tumor, as well as significant diet changes, anti-seizure medication, and a treatment called biofeedback. “Biofeedback is a computerized way of sending signals into the body,” Ben said.
“It scans the body and sees where it’s misfiring ... it works on correcting the things in the body that are off,” Angie added.
“I think the combination of the two (Rife and biofeedback) is really good,” Angie said, “It’s not necessarily that they’re healing (the tumor), it’s that they’re healing the body.” In turn, the body can fight the tumor, explained Angie.
While a limited amount of their medical expenses are covered, most, including the alternative treatments, are not. Also, due to the side effects of his medical condition, Ben has had to stop working.
In Blackhoof, a rural area, Angie says they have a strong network of family, friends and neighbors supporting the family. “They help with the kids, that’s a big thing,” Angie said.
When asked how the children are handling the changes in their home, Angie said, “They’re doing very well. They had been praying that Daddy would be able to spend more time at home ... They have seen this as God’s answer to their prayers, that Daddy would be able to be around more.”
The children have a number of ideas as to how they can fill their dad’s time at home and what activities they like to do with him.
“I like to work with our calf with my dad, shave the goats with my dad, take walks in the woods with my daddy. I really like it when he rides horse,” Nicole said. “I think all of us like fishing with Daddy and camping.”
“I like to ride horse with my dad and I like playing Tractor Family Night (a game created by the family) with my dad ... I like to go camping with my daddy,” Sydney said.
“I like to play any kind of ball with him. I want to fix the tractor with Daddy ... and I want to make a tree fort with Dad,” said Josh.
“Card games, ‘Go Fish’,” said Levi.
Ben and Angie find strength in their faith. “Our desire is to serve God through this,” Angie said, “We want all the glory to him for healing and whatever his plan is ... If (God’s) desire was for things to change in this family, we desire to change.”
A fundraiser for the family has been set for Saturday, March 30, from 5-9 p.m. at Cloquet National Guard Armory (801 Hwy. 33, Cloquet). The theme is “Saddle Up,” which reflects the family’s love of country living. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12, with a family maximum of $50. For tickets, call Jon Finifrock at (218) 389-3175 or Pam Lesner at (218) 389-6416. Donations can also be sent to Frandsen Bank & Trust, 712 Hwy. 33, Cloquet, MN 55720 with checks payable to Ben Anderson Family Benefit.
Ben is the son of Dianne and Dewey Anderson of Moose Lake. Angie is the daughter of Steve Stone and Denise Schmidt of Moose Lake.