Benefit planned for Galva couple facing medical bills

Doug Boock
A benefit to help defray medical expenses for Mike and Connie Byers is Saturday night.

When Mike Byers found himself rubbing his forehead occasionally two years ago, he didn’t think too much about it.

But that all changed in April 2006, when he had a seizure while working as a welder at Advanced Metalworking, Kewanee. That’s when he learned he had a mass growing near his brain.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said his wife Connie. “I could have dropped to the floor.”

Now, two years later, Byers is doing a little better. But he’s facing medical costs which are steep, especially since he and his wife do not have health insurance, their state aid has been cut, and disability payments ended six months after Byers became sick.

A benefit will be held for the couple Saturday, July 19 at McKay’s Fine Dining. Pulled pork sandwiches and other food will be served, beginning at 3 p.m. An auction follows at about 5 p.m., and karaoke at 7 p.m. All costs are by donation.

“Mike will be on seizure medicine the rest of his life, and it’s expensive,” said Connie, who works at McKay’s. “That’s really why we’re doing this (benefit), to help with medical (bills) and the medicine.”

Byers, 50, hasn’t worked since having his seizure in April 2006. He’s undergone extensive radiation, and will undergo some more.

“We definitely want to get that done, to stop it (cancer) from growing back again,” said Connie on July 14.

June was a difficult month for Byers. On June 29, he completed a 31-day stint in St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

He still suffers from short-term memory issues, light hurts his eyes, and he’s sometimes shaky.

Byers, who’s very quiet, said he’d like to be able to work again.

“It would be nice,” he said softly. 

Mr. and Mrs. Byers have lived in Galva for 30 years, moving here from Kewanee. They have two grown sons, Mike Jr., and Cody.