Chad Hermans was in the prime of his life and pursuing a degree in business marketing and communications in 2021 when he was struck ill.
The 2008 graduate of Aitkin High School had put in two and one half years toward that degree when in May he suffered severe abdominal pain. Tests and scans revealed a large tumor which turned out to be two, then 20, then hundreds.
The next few months turned dire leaving him bedridden and catheterized suffering excruciating pain. Moving his care and surgical plans to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, those few abdominal/groin tumors turned into more than 20 tumors on scans. In July, a surgical team removed at least 200 tumors with a thousand still remaining.
In August, Hermans was officially diagnosed with MPNST (Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor) sarcoma, stage 4. An extremely rare one in a million cancer in which this soft tissue aggressive sarcoma covers and grows over the nerve cells. The largest tumor removed out of Chad’s abdomen was roughly the size of an NFL-sized football and there was a softball-sized tumor in the groin. After the removal of hundreds more, his intestines, prostate, bladder and rectum were pulverized leaving behind an ostomy.
“It has since spread to his liver and right lung,” said his aunt Melanie Poelvoorde. “With a dire prognosis, he continues to fight. Duluth hospital now works with Mayo in hopes of shrinking or slowing down the growth.
“Although Chad has health insurance, it doesn’t cover all the costs as his mom and two brothers care for him,” added Poelvoorde. “He depends on his close relatives for transportation for his appointments, tests and scans while depleting his entire savings. His mom continues to fight along with him doing the best she can financially. All of this is taking a huge toll on Chad and his family and having help with the finances would lift a huge weight. If you can find it in your hearts to donate anything would be such a blessing. Please keep this fighter in your prayers.”
Susan and the late Butch Hermans adopted five children who had the same birth mother. The family moved to Aitkin from St. Paul.
Chad enjoyed sports, especially basketball, football, baseball and boxing.
“My mom (Susan) has been my emergency line and caregiver since tumors were first discovered in May,” said Chad. “The sarcoma is in stage 4 with a 20% survival rate in five years. It’s a slow but aggressive cancer as we have seen it turn twice already. Hundreds of tumors are still inside me but I am resilient, strong and a fighter.”
Chad has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation to fight the cancer.
“He is 31, ambitious, athletic, independent and looking forward to a bright future,” said Poelvoorde. “With such a growth mindset, he strived working hard and excelling at college.”
College is on hold for now. Poelvoorde has set up a GoFundMe page for Chad and his family. Those who wish to help the family with medical expenses can search for Chad mpnst sarcoma on GoFundMe or mail a donation to the Hermans family at 208 Third Ave. SE, Aitkin, MN 56431.
“I believe in God and miracles do happen,” said Chad.