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Dan Almquist battles brain cancer: Online fundraiser is underway

Dan Almquist has been battling brain cancer since February and has mostly been unable to work. The Almquist Family: Iyla, 2; Dan, Owen, 6; and JacyRea of rural Verndale.

by Trinity Gruenberg

A cancer diagnosis along with the COVID situation has made 2020 especially hard on a local family.

Dan Almquist, 41, operates his own construction company, Almquist Construction LLC. His wife JacyRea (Desotell) has been a first-grade teacher at the Bertha-Hewitt School for the past seven years. The couple has been married for nine years and they have two adorable children, Owen, 6, and Iyla, 2.

The Almquist family resides between Bertha and Verndale.

Back in February, Dan was experiencing headaches and his vision became blurred when he tried to read bedtime stories to the kids.

“I would read halfway through the page and start stuttering. I was getting so annoyed. I knew how to read this,” said Dan.

His headaches continued to increase in occurrence and duration.

Thinking it was a vision problem, they made an eye appointment and a doctor’s appointment for a physical. The eye doctor told him his vision was fine, but there was something wrong concerning his brain that needed to be checked out.

Dan then went in for an MRI and a brain tumor was discovered on the left side of his brain. The tumor was large, four by nine cm. It was a total shock to the family.

“It was amazing it didn’t cause him more pain,” said JacyRea.

Dan underwent a seven-hour surgery in St. Cloud to remove 90 percent of the visible tumor. He was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, stage four. It is terminal and he was given 12-18 months to live and that was at the beginning of March. It is the most aggressive type of brain cancer.

He underwent chemotherapy and daily radiation and completed that regiment in May.

JacyRea took over two months off from work to transport Dan to his treatments. The school board allowed her to receive a percentage of her pay during that time.

The treatments wiped out Dan’s immune system and they were told not to go anywhere. Some days he barely had the strength to walk.

Owen knows that his daddy is sick and he understands what cancer is.

“He prays for daddy every day,” shared JacyRea.

In mid-October, doctors discovered the tumor was growing back along the edge of the previous tumor.

“We were hoping it wouldn’t grow back so quickly,” said JacyRea. . .


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