By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
SILVER CREEK - A local firefighter is in need of the community's help.
Friends of Gary Sutter are holding a benefit Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Silver Creek Fire-men’s Club to help defray medical expenses.
Gary Sutter, a Silver Creek native, has been a firefighter most of his life. In July, he received the shocking news that he had kidney and bone cancer.
On Nov. 10, friends will hold a benefit to help offset the cost of his treatments.
Sutter graduated from Silver Creek Central School and lived in Stockton for almost 20 years before moving out of state.
He was a firefighter for the Stockton and Cassadaga Fire Depart-ments during that time.
He later returned "home" to Silver Creek and, when in better health, was a member of the Hanover Center Fire Department.
"Fire protection is his life," Sue Wilcox, Gary's girlfriend, said. "He volunteers for everything. He is always helping when others are in need and he never asks for anything in return. He would give you the shirt off his back, even if it was all he had to give. He would go without before he would let others go without."
Gary has a family history of kidney cancer, which claimed the lives of his father and two uncles. He also previously had a kidney removed.
Sue said on July 1, she received an early call from Gary and she had a bad feeling. He was in a panic, they went to the emergency room and the doctor suggested they get a second opinion at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Sue and her sister, a nurse at Roswell, convinced a doctor to see Gary, despite him not having health insurance.
The doctor found a large tumor on Gary's only kidney. He gave him three options; do nothing and have only several months to live, use research drugs, but said it was likely too late, or have surgery and hopefully save a part of the kidney and extend his life for another eight to nine years. Gary was told if the kidney could not be saved, he would need dialysis for the rest of his life.
He chose the third option and a day later, his one-third of a kidney began to work.
"It was a miracle. We were all amazed," Sue said.
The doctor was able to remove most of Gary's stage 4 cancer cells and had him begin taking chemotherapy pills after recovering from surgery. Gary cannot have traditional radiation because it would damage his kidney.
Just after beginning the regimen, Gary was back at work and he broke his collar bone. It was then that they found the cancer was in his bone.
Sue said Gary is finishing his second round of chemo medication and then they will have testing to see the extent of the remaining cancer.
Both Sue and Gary's friend Cindy Clareus describe Gary as a very giving person.
"Gary is a very giving person, anyone who asked him for anything, he would do it, he's there," Cindy said.
Sue said Gary is uncomfortable asking for help, but has many medical bills associated with his treatment and previous medical bills.
"He is one sick puppy. He has previous medical bills and his current bills are sky-high. We don't know where the next penny is coming from. He is an owner/operator truck driver, but because of his illness, he has been unable to work. The last pay check he got was in July for $22. As much as he gives for other people, Cindy thought we should have a benefit for him," Sue said.
The benefit is set for Sunday, and will be held at the Silver Creek Firemen's Club, 21 Jackson St., from noon to 5 p.m.
There will be a spaghetti dinner, a 50/50 raffle, a Chinese auction, music by Rick Kibler, a bake sale and a door prize drawing.
Benefit tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.
Donations of gift baskets, gift certificates, baked goods and cash donations are also being accepted. Donations will also be accepted by mail after the benefit by sending checks to Cindy Clareus, 11649 Hanover Road, Silver Creek, N.Y., 14136.
For more information, contact Cindy at 934-7150.