VERSAILLES — Area musician Jeff Madewell — known for his big heart and giving back — is finding himself on the receiving-end after learning he needs open heart surgery. He was recently re-diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Madewell is currently at the Cleveland Clinic undergoing numerous tests and conferring with doctors, who specialize in patients with a radiated heart from previous cancer treatments, about how to move forward. After learning about the diagnosis, his friends stepped up to try and help relieve some of the financial burden.
A benefit which includes a night of music and fundraising is being held at Creekside Drive N Go, 176 N. Center St., Versailles, on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. Also a GoFundMe page has also been established to help off set offset his medical bills.
The West Milton native was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a type of lymphoma, and also lost his vision, in 1985 at age 19. The two are unrelated issues. He beat the disease, but after two surgeries and 45 radiation treatments, it took a toll on his heart by destroying his aortic valve and causing coronary artery disease.
Madewell said the radiation was a “catch-22” because the treatments saved his life 30 years ago, but as his radiologist warned, it caused severe heart problems when he turned 50.
“He was dead-on, almost to the year,” Madewell said. “Every now and then (the thought of the warning) would pop up that 50 is right around the corner, and then, when it would start happening, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, wait a minute, the doctor told me this was going to happen.’ But at first you don’t want to (believe it); like, ‘That can’t be right. That can’t be what it is.’ And then I started finding out after going to a cardiologist in 2015 what was causing a lot of my heart issues was because of the radiation I had years ago.”
Dealing with his vision loss was put on the back burner at the time to focus on fighting the cancer. Once they began pursuing it, Madewell said doctors couldn’t figure out for years what caused his vision loss until a genetic condition was discovered in 2012.
Although he beat Hodgkin’s disease, in 2009 Madewell was then diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But he had been in remission after a 2010 stem cell transplant, until November 2019, when he started having serious respiratory issues. Now he is fighting both serious health diagnoses, as well as investigating the cause of a lesion on his hip bone.
Buff Francis, who is a fellow musician and Madewell’s close friend, said once he learned the lymphoma had returned, he immediately spoke with Tony Streib, owner of Creekside, about creating a benefit for their friend. Madewell had played there with Francis and his band Higgins Madewell numerous times, so it was the perfect spot for the benefit.
Francis, Josh Jacobs, and also Jerry Grazioso, of the band The Blessed Hatred, will each be performing Saturday. There will be no cover charge to attend the event. Throughout the evening, 50/50 tickets will be sold and several gift baskets and items donated by local businesses will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to help Madewell.
Francis said he and Madewell played several acoustic shows together last year, and near the end of 2019 he played alone because of his friend’s declining health.
He also noted Christmas 2019 was the first time in 20 years Madewell was unable to send a truck of goods for the Rosebud Indian Reservation fundraiser. Madewell has been collecting clothes and funds for a Lakota tribe in South Dakota since 1999.
Madewell said in 1999 they gathered and donated seven pallets of goods to the tribe. And for each of the last 15 Christmases prior to 2019, he and his friends have sent about 50 skids that completely packs a semitrailer full.
“Jeff is like a brother, and so I said, let’s give back to someone who has given so much,” Francis said to friends when putting together Saturday’s benefit.
Friend and organizer of the GoFundMe page, Jim Hausfeld, noted Madwell has “made his true mark in the world by his kindness, selflessness and generosity to others” with his Rosebud fundraiser and by donating his time and talents for countless benefit events over the years. He created the page to help Madewell as he has helped so many others over the years.
“I can’t even put into words how much I appreciate what everybody is doing for me. It just seems like the whole area has always had my back, be it with music, health issues or the Christmas for Rosebud project. I’m forever grateful, and it means the world to me,” Madewell said.
To donate on the GoFundMe page, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/open-your-heart-for-jeff-madewell
For more information about the the Jeff Madewell benefit on Facebook, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/creekside-drive-n-go/jeff-madewell-benefit/3460022614069017
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.