WILMINGTON -- When Michael and Joanne Crosier found out they were going to have their third child last year the couple thought it was a miracle.
At age 40, Joanne thought the possibility of more children was impossible, but when their daughter Addison arrived she brought an unimaginable amount of joy, something the family needs now, as her father most likely won’t be able to see her grow up.
On May 16, Michael went to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington with what he thought was a severe sinus infection. Doctors however, quickly revealed it was something far more serious.
Michael was diagnosed with a stage-4 non-curable glioblastoma, a form of aggressive brain cancer.
"I didn’t even have time to think about what they had told me," Michael said. "The next thing I knew I was in the ambulance on my way to Dartmouth."
It took a team of 15 doctors more than eight hours to remove the two-inch tumor, but it had spread to throughout the left frontal lobe of his brain, the parts that control speech, emotion and motor function.
Doctors said he could have anywhere between four weeks to four years, but eventually the cancer would return. However, Michael is determined to defy the odds.
"I’m getting 10 years," Michael said. "And it’s because of my family, friends and this community."
With their father in the hospital, 18-year-old Kody, 14-year-old Alec and 9-month-old Addison
Kody, who chose to attend Greenfield Community College this fall to become a firefighter and EMT instead of a school farther away, told his mother she didn’t have a choice, that he was going to be at his father’s side while he was in the hospital.
"He’s my best friend," Kody said. "We do a lot together, he’s always been there for me so I wanted to be there for him."
Every weekend Michael would take Kody and Alec to play paintball or to race remote controlled cars in Connecticut or Massachusetts.
In his weakened condition, paintball is out of the question, but he can still pull back the trigger and let his car zoom around the track.
On Father’s Day, the three of them spent the afternoon winning trophies for racing at RC Madness in Enfield, Conn.
Alec, who has always had a strong bond with his new sister, stayed with her and a family friend so that Joanne could be with Michael as well.
"They’re inseparable," Joanne said of Alec and Addison. "When we found out we were going to have another child, Alec enrolled himself in the baby-sitting course, infant CPR and has fed her and changed her when needed."
Addison’s role, although she may not know it, is the glue of the family.
"She makes us smile every day," Joanne said. "She’s helping us stay together as a family."
Michael said that looking at her reminds him of when his two sons were that age, which immediate brings a smile to his face.
"She’s good medicine," he said.
While Michael was in the hospital dozens of family members and friends offered their help and to visit, and their sister-in-law, Jill Maynard, was there from the beginning.
Maynard, a nurse who was on-duty at the hospital in Bennington the night Michael was admitted, provided translation for medical jargon and was able to ask doctors questions about his condition.
"It allowed me to focus on Mike instead of having to worry about what this or that meant and looking up what it meant later," Joanne said. "She also kept everyone in the loop through Facebook so I didn’t have to. She provided a huge relief."
And since Michael’s diagnosis, the family has relief and support from numerous community members, she said.
Next month friends and family members will hold a fundraising event, on July 14, to help the family pay for the costs associated with Michael’s treatment.
"Our community has been beyond unbelievable," Joanne said. "We’re getting bills that we can already pay because of the donations from loving people in this area."
One of those people, Liz Fernot, has set up donation jars at several gas stations in the Deerfield Valley, organized the family’s bills so that each gets taken care of on time and set up a dinner train where nearly every night a meal is prepared for the family so they don’t have to cook.
"Not having to cook and being able to just focus on my family is amazing," Joanne said. "It’s nice to know we’re not alone in this because it feels like a time where it could be easy to be alone. I’m so glad we live where we do in this community. There’s hundreds of people who have our back."
For years Michael delivered heating oil and got to know just about everyone in Wilmington. Whenever he saw a person who’s car was having trouble or needed help, he reached out to lend a hand.
"I see now that it’s being paid back," he said. "People are bending over backwards to help us out."
His boss, Guy E. Nido, has also been instrumental in his battle, Michael said.
"He’s been at the house everyday making sure I’m OK," Michael said. "He’s the best boss I’ve ever had and could ever ask for. Guy’s been like a father figure to me."
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.