Central graduate fights for life in Navy hospital

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Navy Airman Jeffrey Edmundson, a 2002 graduate of Central High School, decided to join the Navy after completing high school because he wanted to make something of his life, said his sister Pam Edmundson.

When she visited him two weeks ago at Balboa Naval Hospital her reaction was one of shock. "That night he knew us. The next day when he went on the ventilator he did not."

While onboard the USS Constellation, fighting for his country, Edmundson began experiencing symptoms of illness first thought to be seasickness. It was later determined by the ship surgeon that he had cancer. He was flown to the Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego on June 1. Edmundson, who has testicular cancer, underwent surgery and chemo-therapy. His medical situation did not improve. Instead his health weakened.

At this time he is in the intensive care unit on a ventilator. The family was told that the cancer has spread and nothing can be done to cure him. Most recently they were told his tumors have not grown and that if his health improves in 10 days he will receive another round of chemotherapy.

Complications are making this seem unlikely according to family members.

His aunt, Diana Reynolds and his father, Wayne Edmundson, are at his side at Balboa Naval Hospital.

Reynolds said, "They told us Jeff will never leave this hospital alive. They said when they flew him off the USS Constellation they asked him who he wanted with him and he said his dad and his aunt, Diana."

High school sweetheart Andrea Parsons met Edmundson at the SEMO District Fair about two and a half years ago.

Parsons, who will graduate in 2004, said, "He knew something was wrong since about March 2003. He went into the Navy because he wanted to master something and be able to provide for his family. If he makes it through all this we probably will get married."

Served aboard carrier

The USS Constellation completed its 21st and final overseas deployment June 2. The Constellation spent four months in the Arabian Gulf, taking an active part in Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and finally, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When Edmundson's sister, Cindy, discovered her brother would be involved in the war her reaction was one of fear. "I began e-mailing him more often, like every other day. In the e-mails he said he wanted to tell his kids stories about the war."

The Edmundson family has set up a trust fund at US Bank under the name of Jeffrey W. Edmundson for those who wish to help.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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