Ed Nemerever was the first person Richard Crane met at Ohio University, he said. The two were roommates all four years and both graduated in 1979. Crane said they’ve remained friends ever since, calling each other on birthdays and after watching OU football games.
But when Nemerever called Crane on his birthday a couple of weeks ago, Nemerever mentioned something surprising.
“I said, ‘What are you doing these days?’ " Crane said. “And he said, ‘I don’t want to depress you on your birthday,’ and I said ‘Ed, don’t worry, you’d never depress me on my birthday.’ "
Then Nemerever told Crane that he has been spending a good deal of his time in the hospital because he has liver cancer, Crane said.
Nemerever, who lives in Carmel, New York, said he learned during the first week of August he has liver cancer.
“You’re numb,” he said. “You’re in shock. You don’t know what to make of it.”
Before he had time to process it, Nemerever said the tests and appointments began. He estimated that he has been to 20 to 30 doctors appointments.
He said he worries about being able to take care of his 15-year-old daughter and his dogs. Nemerever added that he worries about his wife, Monica Blank, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks ago.
Blank is still going through biopsies to determine how bad her case is, she said, but she began treatment earlier than her mother, who also had breast cancer, did. Her mother fought it for years before dying at the age of 70.
“I’m a mess,” Blank said. “It’s a shock.”
Crane, who lives in Naples, Florida, said Nemerever didn’t seem to want to accept money from him, but he still worries about his finances. Last week, Crane said he decided to reach out to OU organizations and alumni for help.
“I thought, what better place to start than where we started?” Crane said.
Crane started a GoFundMe to help Blank and Nemerever pay their expenses. The GoFundMe website lists the fundraising goal as $25,000, but Crane said he wants to raise as much as he can.
“I don’t even have an idea,” Crane said. “Anything we could raise would be terrific. The more we could raise, the better.”
So far, Nemerever and Blank said the expenses haven’t been too bad. Insurance has covered most of their costs.
But Nemerever said the flexible spending account for their insurance recently ran out, and they will now have to pay copays for every appointment. And one bill for about $4,000 — a blood test to find whether Nemerever had a genetic mutation — was not covered by insurance, despite the doctor's assurance it would be.
Blank and Nemerever said the family already struggles to pay its bills and buy food.
“One bad bill and we’re toast,” Blank said.
Nemerever said he now faces a liver transplant surgery that his doctors said could cost about $30,000. His insurance should cover some of that cost, but he said he hasn’t seen any concrete numbers yet.
“I’m still waiting for the bombs to drop,” he said.
Nemerever said he is likely to survive if he undergoes a liver transplant, but that is “a big if.”
Blank said she worries that she may have to go through chemotherapy. If she does, she said she would no longer be able to work at her job as an archivist for the Rockefeller Archive Center in New York. She has already seen the effects of chemotherapy on her husband.
“He just had a procedure on Friday, and it wiped him out,” Blank said last week. “I mean, he can’t walk the dogs. The other night he had, like, a banana for dinner.”
Crane said he and Nemerever used to do everything together. During Homecoming and other wild times on campus, he said they would sit on the wall next to the C.I. at 32 N. Court St. and just watch people walk by.
“The thing that sticks really close to my mind was what a good listener Ed was,” Crane said. “We used to get on the back of my motorcycle and go to this little brook … and we would just sit out there and talk, and talk and talk.”
Crane said he wants to help support his friend through "the good, the bad and the ugly.”
“Last Friday he had one of his chemotherapy sessions, and I said, ‘When you’re done, give me a call,’ " Crane said last week. “ 'I don’t care if you feel bad, I don’t care if you feel great, just let me know one way or another and we can talk about it.’ You know, because all those years he always listened to me. The least I could do is listen to him.”