Chip L. Edstrom III was serving in the US Army, fighting in Iraq during 2005 and 2006. Little did Chip know but he was fighting two wars, one of them with Malignant melanoma. On January 24th 2007 Chip lost the battle with the silent killer. TFM is a 13-year Malignant melanoma survivor, please say a prayer for Chip, his parents and all those fighting this terrible disease. God bless them all.
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U.S. Army Specialist Clayton (Chip) L. Edstrom III of Robbinsdale beat
six months of warfare and two encounters with roadside bombs that rocked
his Humvee so hard he was thrown to the back of the vehicle.
Then Edstrom, 20 at the time, came home in January 2006 for two weeks to
celebrate his mother's birthday and encountered a new battle: a 7-inch
tumor attached to his spine. He had stage-4 melanoma.
"He was told he was lucky if he had a year" to live, said his mother,
The tumor climbed up his body. It put a stranglehold on his heart and
lungs, sending him to the hospital last week. Edstrom -- once "175
pounds and made of steel" -- deteriorated quickly, dying of a heart
attack Jan. 24, 10 days before the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis.
"God wanted my son," his mother said Tuesday after his funeral in north
Minneapolis and burial at Fort Snelling National Cemetery with volleys
of gunfire and taps from a lone bugle.
"It was time," said his uncle, John Egan.
"I don't ask questions," his mother said.
Edstrom, a basketball fanatic described as outgoing and funny, joined
the military soon after high school. His father and maternal grandfather
had served in the military. Family members said the younger Edstrom
wanted to fight for his country and hoped to continue his military
training after Iraq and one day join the U.S. Army Rangers.
He shipped out to Iraq in August 2005, shortly after turning 20.
"When he went in, he promised [his mother], 'I'm coming home for your
birthday, Mom. I'm coming home for your birthday,' " said his aunt,
On the trip home from Iraq, Edstrom -- the elder of Michele Egan's two
sons -- realized that something was wrong. He couldn't urinate. He
arrived home Jan. 28. Still nothing. Nerves, his family thought. The
next day he worsened and was hospitalized. Doctors drained four liters
of urine from his body and told his family it was a "miracle" that his
bladder hadn't burst, his mother said.
On Feb. 3 -- his mother's birthday -- Edstrom was diagnosed with stage-4
"There was nothing they could do for Chip," she said, adding that the
tumor's attachment to his spine rendered it inoperable.
He was moved to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where radiation treatments
shrank the tumor so he could urinate. He went home in April, about 50
He was scheduled to spend a year in Iraq, but he never returned -- a
fact family members said haunted the young man, who felt like he was
abandoning his comrades overseas.
"There wasn't one day he came home that Chip didn't hurt mentally or
physically," Michele Egan said.
Childhood friend Charles Tankson said Edstrom held back from complaining
about his illness and tried to return to everyday activities despite
bouts of drowsiness brought on by his medication.
"He didn't let it stop him from moving around," Tankson said. "Towards
the last four months ... he was trying to spread his time around more
Family members said that in his last year, Edstrom played basketball,
lifted weights, found a girlfriend and fell in love, hung out with
cousins and friends and drove his car around with music blaring while
they ribbed him for his questionable driving skills.
"He just fought it very bravely," Weickert said.
Pain and difficulty breathing sent him back into the hospital a week
ago. The tumors were pressing too hard against his lungs. Visitors were
instructed not to ask him questions; he couldn't speak.
At his funeral Tuesday morning, family friend and eulogizer Ron Walsh
recalled Edstrom's fearlessness in the face of death.
"[Family and friends] asked him if he was scared and whether he was
afraid of his predicted death," Walsh said in his eulogy. "Consistent
with what I know, he said, 'No, I'm not.' The thing that scared him was
if he had died alone in Iraq."He told me he wasn't too happy about
[dying]," Walsh said, drawing laughs from family and friends who knew
Edstrom to be a jokester.
The day before he died, doctors predicted he would fall into a coma, his
mother said. And although he could not defy the tumor that began at his
pelvis and sprouted up his spine and pressed itself against his heart
and lungs until they seized up, Edstrom bucked the doctors' expectations.
"He got out of bed," his mother said, "put his arms around me and said,
'Mom, take me home.' "