Leader Blues

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

TOP STORY >> Tom Armstrong has many friends

Jerry Cole and Sandy Hicks visit with Tom Armstrong (center) during a benefit dinner that was held Saturday to help pay for his expensive treatments. 

Leader staff writer

Friends of Cabot Alderman Tom Armstrong held a barbecue fundraiser Saturday night at the Cabot Middle School North cafeteria.

The dinner raised about $4,000 to help pay for travel expenses associated with brain cancer treatments Armstrong has been receiving. Since September 2008, Armstrong has been battling glioblastoma.

“The fundraiser is much appreciated,” said Tom Armstrong.

His daughter Kristal Armstrong said, “I am very grateful since I see the struggles my parents go through on a day-to-day basis since my dad can’t work anymore.”

Armstrong went to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., for radiation treatments and experimental chemotherapy treatments every 28 days until October. He now goes to the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas every two weeks for intravenous chemotherapy treatments.

There wasn't a closer location that offered the chemotherapy that is required according to Armstrong’s daughter, Angie Hoschouer. Family members or relatives accompany Armstrong during his travel for treatment. Hoschouer said her father’s tumors have shrunk and are stable.

“It was very expensive paying for gas and rooms they needed to stay in. With the economy the way it is, it is very expensive,” Kristal Armstrong said.

When Tom Armstrong went to Florida for treatment, the family spent four days on the road and three days at the Mayo Clinic.

Now that Armstrong is going to Baylor, it is only two days of travel and a one-day stay at the medical center.

Hoschouer said, “I have the best parents in the world. Our family is honored that people care about our family enough to do something like this. “My mom has been amazingly strong. We are trusting God that he will be completely healed. Dad has not complained one time ever about this.

“It helps that there has been such a support system of friends and people in the community. Every day at least 10 people ask me how he’s doing and say they are praying for him,” Hoschouer said.

Armstrong retired after being full-time in the Air National Guard after 28 years. He was a boom operator during in-flight refueling on KC-135 Stratotankers.

He recalled a time when he refueled the Thunderbirds.

“They were going to an air show and needed to refuel on the way. I got the privilege to do it,” he said.

After retiring, Armstrong worked for the city a few years as the city code inspector. He then opened his own business doing home inspections until his battle with cancer began more than a year ago. He has been on the city council for eight years.

Armstrong was born in the Garner area and went to school in Beebe. He has lived in Cabot for 22 years. He has been married to his wife Melanie for 37 years. Besides daughters Angie and Kristal, they have a son, Jason.

For the benefit dinner, Charles Ward cooked the barbecue and made the sauce. His wife Cathy cooked baked beans.

Ward said, “I’ve known Tom a long time, a really good friend. I like to help people. We are just fortunate enough to do so.”

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams estimated that 150 people ate dinner at the middle school cafeteria or took carryout home.

“We are thrilled everyone came out,” the mayor said.

Those who want to help out or contribute to Tom Armstrong’s travel expenses, can stop by city hall or mail a check to City of Cabot, c/o Tom Armstrong, P.O. Box 1113, Cabot, Ark., 72023.