Like most parents, Peter and Susan Freshour of Wayne County want what’s best for their kids.

Like most parents, Peter and Susan Freshour of Wayne County want what’s best for their kids.

“They’re just awesome, good kids,” Susan says of their 6 children, who range in age from 20 down to 11.

The eldest, Peter, is away at college, pursuing a career in politics and battling a rare disease known as Wilson’s.

It’s a disease, his family just found out, that he shares with his younger brother, Jack, 18, a member of the U.S. Marines Corps. It’s a disease that manifests itself as too much copper in the body.

About a month ago, Susan reached out to The Wayne Independent for help. Having burned through their IRA savings, the family was struggling to pay Peter’s prescription co-pays and other medical expenses, about $2,400 per month. And Susan desperately wanted the rest of her children tested to see if they too had the same disease.

“One in 30,000 people have Wilson’s Disease. But one in 400 are carriers. So, if two carriers get together, their children could have the disease,” she explained.

The community stepped up in a big way.  

Having read of their plight in the newspaper, Attorney Steve Burlein contacted the Freshours’ insurance company, successfully requesting they cover the cost of genetic testing, saying it was part of their medical contract.

Vanessa DeGori of Milanville organized a benefit 10-mile walk, Laurel’s Coffee Grinder in Honesdale is holding an all-day benefit on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Jeannie’s Chapel Street Salon in Honesdale  is holding a Cut-A-Thon on Monday, Oct. 17th, from 4 to 8 p.m.

The Freshours can’t thank the community enough.

“Through their generosity, we have been able to make it every month,” Susan said.

It’s through genetic testing that they learned that Jack, too, has the rare, inherited disorder and that his four remaining siblings are carriers. 

“There’s two routes this disease can take. It can take the route of Peter, where it’s like this progression, where symptoms develop and you see them. But, because of all of these benign symptoms — like bruising, depression, etc. — you don’t know what the heck it is,” she said.

“It could also manifest itself where you just wake up and you’re in liver failure. And that’s what I’m worried about with Jack,” she said.

Already battling cirrhosis of the liver, Peter’s been told he’ll in all likelihood need a transplant in the coming 10 to 15 years.

For now, he takes Syprine, a low grade chemotherapy drug, that removes the copper from his body and Zinc which blocks the absorption of copper.

Though their family is going through quite a bit, Susan says faith, family and the community are what’s pulling them through.

“Family prayer, I truly believe in my gut, is what is saving us. And will take care of us. I was doubtful in the beginning. And it was a real test of my faith. And just too many things have happened, people I’ve met, had conversations with on the street, strangers I didn’t know – things they’ve said that have stuck with me. It’s like God sent these little angels to just talk to me and reassure me and just strengthen me up,” she said. “They have inspired me.

“Faith is so important in families. People who are worried about their families and trying to struggle through their own hardships – trust in God. If you can just make that leap and trust in Him, everything will work out. I can truly tell you that that is the one thing I have completely learned now for the rest of my life going forward. 

Things that have happened to me in the past, there was more worry and anguish and angst on my part when maybe I didn’t need to have it, maybe if I had just had that trust, it would have been less worry. And now, like going through this, I smile more, I appreciate each day more. I’m into the moment with the kids and I’m not taking it for granted. Especially since they’re growing so fast, I’m not taking it for granted.” 

“Pete and I would really want to thank all of the wonderful people in Wayne County who have helped us through this hard time. And we look forward to the time when we can give back to them, when we can do something for somebody,  that’s going to make a difference.

“You know what? God has blessed me with six great kids. He really has,” she said.