Ephrata, WA -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/12/2016 -- Jeff Mears was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and he is losing the fight. A GoFundMe fundraising campaign is underway to help his family after he is gone.
The campaign is https://www.gofundme.com/jaymamears. All the money raised will go toward Mr. Mears' funeral expenses and furthering his wife and children's educations. The campaign seeks to raise as much as $100,000. As of this announcement, about $7,000 is available for the family.
A US Navy veteran, Mears left the service and went to Iraq as a contractor. There he was shot, but not harmed as his body armor protected him. When he came home, he and wife Jayma settled in the small Washington town of Ephrata.
Mr. Mears was forced to find a job out of town and lived in a motor home while he worked. With seven children, Mrs. Mears did not work, instead concentrated her efforts on the children. Jeff will be survived by his wife and seven children (five still at home): Tara & Tyler, Hunter, age 14, Hailey, age 12, Race, age 9, Lola, age 3, and Ava, age 2.
Jeff's cancer started as Metastatic Tongue cancer, also known as head and neck cancer. Doctors were initially optimistic about his chances. The cancer spread much faster than the physicians expected. Now, there's no hope of beating it.
Jeff is ready for his fate, but he is obviously very concerned about the family he will leave behind. Their financial stability is foremost in his mind.
"The family had no idea I'd start this fundraising campaign," said Tyson Downs, the Go Fund Me campaign creator. "Jayma is my sister and I want to do everything I can to help her and my nieces and nephews."
As a Mormon, Jeff does not use any tobacco products. The faith prohibits tobacco use. Because this kind of cancer is associated with tobacco users, doctors were even more surprised.
Cancer is an indiscriminate killer, taking the old and the young alike.
Mr. Downs said that while he doesn't understand why this is happening to his brother-in-law, the only thing that can be done is to make the best out of a bad situation. It's extremely rough on Jayma and the children, he continued.
"They are already hurting. Jayma's mother is too ill to physically be able to help.
Most of her siblings live hundreds of miles away and are able to offer limited support.
She does have some support in town, but the family is going to need more," Mr. Downs said. 'We're doing all we can."
Adding to this, just five months ago Jeff and Jayma adopted Jeff's grandchildren to raise as their own. Mr. Downs said that's typical of the kind of woman his sister is.
"She is there for anyone who needs help. She's always willing to put other people ahead of herself. Jeff is the exact same way. Now, they need help," he said.
Mr. Downs said he hopes the fundraiser will generate enough money to let Jayma and the children stay on their feet until she can get the education to find a job to support herself and the children. Even so, it's going to be very hard being a single mother of five children at home.
"Jayma and Jeff have a very strong love. They just held a sealing ceremony so they can be together for eternity," Mr. Downs said. "The whole family is leaning on God for the strength to get through this. We are reaching out to people everywhere to do what they can to help. Prayers, kind thoughts, words of encouragement and donations are all greatly appreciated."
For more information or to donate to the cause, visit https://www.gofundme.com/jaymamears