Family seeks help with medical expenses

By Kelly Ducote, The Observer December 20, 2013 10:14 am

Before he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, Jim Russell was a triathlete. He was riding his bike in the spring of 2012 when he started getting pains.

By November of last year, he was referred to an oncologist.

His daughter, Rachel, says he got back into training for triathlons after her mother Kim passed away in 2010 due to complications from multiple sclerosis. 

The family, which has lived in La Grande for about five years, is now gearing up for a move to Arizona, where Jim Russell has a free stem cell transplant scheduled after a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells.

Rachel, 16, and her brother Joel will be moving in with their oldest sister, Emma.

“My sister’s been trying to get us to move down there for a while, since my mom passed away,” Rachel Russell said.

The stem cell transplant is expected to add a year or more to his life — and provide a break from chemo.

The family is seeking financial help for their expenses. According to their YouCaring website, medical bills from the past year total about $30,000. They also have travel expenses incurred from flying grown children in to help the younger kids pack and move.

Rachel Russell said she is thankful for her family, which includes seven children, her faith and music, which all help her get through the tough circumstances.

A member of the La Grande Latter-day Saints church, she said her ward has been very supportive.