Friends rally online for Nesbitt family during cancer fight
Marc Nesbitt, 40, is fighting medulloblastoma
David Nesbitt (seated at upper right), a well-known soccer coach for decades in Columbia, chats with friends who gather at the Katana Japanese Steak House in Columbia for a fundraiser on Wednesday evening to benefit the family of his son Marc Nesbitt and his family. (Doug Kapustin, Baltimore Sun / January 17, 2012)
Six months ago, at age 40, Marc Nesbitt, the elder of two sons of Columbia soccer coach Dave Nesbitt, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a rare type of brain tumor that is primarily found in children and very seldom seen in adults.
Left with little use of his left arm and hand, weakness in his left leg and double vision, Marc had to quit his job as a video game producer and stop driving. When Matt Nesbitt learned that it would cost $10,000 to transport his brother back and forth from his home in Jersey City, N.J., to get treatment at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he was enraged.
Matt began sharing details of his brother's predicament with friends, and that's when he hit on a plan of action. He decided to channel his anger against what he views as a broken system into a way for people to donate online to a transportation fund.
Since he first drafted a letter Jan. 4 detailing Marc's health status, Matt has been contacted by 400 people, many of whom donated money or offered their time and resources, through Facebook, Twitter and at marcnesbitt.com.
"You have to have significant [monetary] resources in order to fight this kind of battle, and many people feel that's pretty ridiculous," said Matt, a Columbia real estate agent and entrepreneur who makes frequent trips to New York to oversee his brother's care.
"Everyone deserves to get treatment; this isn't being extravagant," he said. "And everyone feels like this could happen to them."
As hard as it was, asking for donations seemed the only way since Marc didn't want to think about leaving Erin, his wife of one year, grieving and in debt, if the worst were to come to pass, Matt said.
"I'm astounded by the range of givers, and floored by the overwhelming generosity," Marc wrote in a text message about the response to Matt's social media campaign.
Friends are also helping in other ways.
On of them, Hamisi Dove, organized a fundraiser Wednesday night at Koto Katana, a Japanese steakhouse in Hickory Ridge, and others are planned in Columbia in the coming months. Dove, who grew up with the Nesbitts and is the same age as Matt, recalled how the two of them looked up to Marc, who has "always been this big, strong dude."
"It was definitely a shock — it's always a shock when someone gets a cancer diagnosis," he said. "I wanted to help Marc with the battle he's facing, and I hope people will keep opening up their wallets."
Matt said his family is overwhelmed by people's generosity.
"This has really caught on at Facebook and on Twitter, and the Wilde Lake community, soccer community and video games industry have all joined in," he said. "It's become a pay-it-forward movement."
Dave Nesbitt said, "You don't know how much you've touched people until something like this happens."
And while he feels "the community has risen up in terms of adopting Marc," Dave said the impact on his already tightly knit family has been even more incredible.
"The one thing we have really attempted to do with Marc is to be sure there's some levity, some humor in his life," said Dave, who is technical director of the Soccer Association of Columbia — Howard County.
"The tendency is to be somber, and that's an additional weight on the patient," he said. "We try to be natural and normal, and Matt has been incredibly good at one-liners."
Laura Nesbitt, Marc and Matt's mother, agreed.