Libertyville man’s legacy helps others continue fight against cancer

While fighting for his life, Michael Schostok found how fortunate he was to be able to afford the battle.

As his insurance paid for most of the expenses that came with resisting cancer, the Libertyville resident took note of the other patients in the clinic with him, the ones who came and went.

“A lot of people have to stop their treatment, and essentially tell themselves, ‘I’m letting myself die because it’s too expensive,’” recalled Marisa Schostok, Michael’s daughter.

Brain cancer ultimately took Michael Schostok’s life in July 2012, but his family continues to help others in their fight against cancer. On Friday night, Jan. 31, the non-profit organization Marisa Schostok helped found held their first fundraising gala at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire.

The Michael Matters Foundation was expecting about 350 registered guests to eat, bowl, listen to The Llamas and more, to raise money for the Kellogg Cancer Center at NorthShore University Hospital in Evanston. The group has already given the NorthShore hospital system a $25,000 grant.

The hospital uses some of the money to help patients afford treatment and medication. The Schostok’s foundation also helps patients and their families afford gasoline for the treks, food in the hospital cafeteria, parking fees and other costs.

“It’s those types of details that people often don’t think about,” Marisa Schostok said. “It’s the little things that really wear down on the family.”

Michael Schostok, who was a career trial lawyer, first visited an Evanston specialist in early 2011, when the 50-year-old started noticed he had become forgetful. His balance was off and he was tired. In mid-sentence, Schostok would stop talking when he could not figure out what word was supposed to come next. On occasion, he found himself writing off the edge of his legal pad.

“Finally, my mom pushed him to go get an MRI,” Schostok said.

Tests in April 2011 revealed a glioblastoma brain tumor, a rare brain cancer with no known cure. Schostok and his family learned the best they could hope for was slowing for maybe a year and a half, with a wave of expensive therapies.

“Devastated,” Marisa Schostok said. “Learning that there was no cure, that’s the hardest part.”

Dozens of trips to NorthShore followed. During those trips, Schostok took note of those who couldn’t afford to keep fighting.

“A lot of people don’t have that cash just sitting around,” Schostok said.

After her father died, Marisa Schostok and T.J. Saye, the business manager at Schostok’s law firm, went to work on creating a non-profit to help others battling glioblastoma. They founded Michael Matters that fall.

The group held its first fundraiser, a walkathon, in May at the Schaumburg Boomers’ baseball field. Its “New Year, Same Wish” event at Viper Alley aimed to bring their efforts closer to the family home.

A second walkathon will follow this May, back in Schaumburg, and Schostok said she was already hoping to be back in Viper Alley in 2015.

“He was so passionate about trying to help others who were struggling with this disease,” she said of her father.

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