Community bands together to help cancer patient

HOLLIS – Ten years ago, Kristopher Beinder spent two years in bed, dying.

He has a rare form of brain cancer, prolactinoma carcinoma, that spread to his spine and liver, and doctors told his parents that their son, then 25, had six months to live.

Beinder proved his doctors wrong.

Experimental treatments he underwent at Duke University saved his life, and he’s been fighting to stay alive ever since.

Now, he’s up against another mission that seems impossible: to pay for a drug he needs that his insurance company has denied him. The medication, an approved off-label drug, costs $6,000 a month, he said.

During a clinical trial in Feb ruary and April at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Beinder, the new father of an infant son, took the drug Nexevar.

Afterward, his insurance company refused to pay for the drug, even though during the trial, his blood count for a tumor-producing hormone dropped dramatically.

Since finishing the clinical trial, Beinder said his levels of the hormone have skyrocketed.

His neighbors, including the many parents who send their children to the Apple Tree Farm horseback riding school next door, want to help him. On Sunday, they will hold a fundraiser at a farm on Wheeler Road.

“He’s (organizing) a golf tournament, and he asked if I could donate a lesson,” as a tournament prize, said Alison Eastman-Lawler, who owns and operates the horseback riding school. “I said, ‘I think I can come up with something better than that.’ And it snowballed.”

Beinder recently left his job as a sales manager at ADT Security Systems in Hollis and is getting disability insurance.

He said he and his wife, Katherine, have had to put their home up for sale.

Eastman-Lawler said that after Beinder gave her the OK, she contacted her clients, asking for help with the benefit. The response, she said, was overwhelming.

“We’ll have a yard sale with rugs, furniture, children’s clothing, used horseback riding apparel. A bake sale put on by a group of kids from the high school,” Eastman-Lawler said.

The event will be held at the farm from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

It will include pony and horseback rides and face painting – activities aimed at drawing families with children.

Indeed, Eastman-Lawler said she is hoping that visitors to the town’s local apple orchards will take a detour Sunday, stopping off to enjoy $5 pony or horse rides, homemade treats and yard sale bargains.

If she sells 200 pony rides, she can raise $1,000, a third of her goal.

It’s a gesture for which Beinder is grateful.

“This is a hugely ironic time in my life. I’ve never been so happy and never been so scared,” he said, describing the awe he feels when he looks at his infant son, Alek, and his wife, who he calls his “angels.”

“I want to be here as long as I can.”

During the past 10 years, Beinder has been on and off chemotherapy, had multiple surgeries to remove 13 tumors from his liver and spine, and had a hip replacement, necessary to counter the effects of bone-killing drugs.

Over the winter and through the spring, he and his wife spent between $15,000 and $20,000 traveling between New Hampshire and Texas so that he could take part in a clinical trial at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

He has also had treatment at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth Medical Center.

It’s not just cancer that Beinder has battled with. He has also challenged the insurance industry.

“I have a very rare cancer, and I’ve exhausted all treatment options,” he said he told an insurance company case manager who denied him a drug that was working.

“In a letter, the insurance company told me, ‘This (drug) has not been approved for your cancer.’ This guy denied me, and when I called to talk, I said, ‘Give me three options. What do you recommend that I do, or just give me one or two.’ ”

Beinder said that he was told the insurance company would pay for the more expensive clinical trial, which he doesn’t need, but not for medication that had been effective.

And he’s not giving up.

“My family, my wife, we don’t take a back seat,” he said. “We’re always looking ahead. If you’re not aggressive, you get left behind.”