TRIMONT - For Josh Olson, it began with a swollen lymph node last month that never went away. He is now fighting Class Y melanoma at the age of 24.
"It's the worst stage and it's aggressive," said Amy Bloomquist, Josh's aunt. "They scanned the lymph node, and there were no answers. ... Then they had a biopsy and classified it. He's undergoing a new form of chemo, which is expected to double the life expectancy compared to the traditional chemo. But it had spread to his lungs and his hip. There was a complication with the chemo, and he had to stop it for about a week and in that time, a tumor had developed on his spine. But luckily, when they began the chemo again, that tumor shrunk so it didn't need surgery."
The chemo initially left Josh so weak he could hardly get out of bed, but as he regains his strength, he also has strengthened his resolve to live as normal a life as possible.
"He has to work at night because he can't be out in the daylight at all," Bloomquist said. "But he's still working at a farm. He wakes up around mid-afternoon, and goes out at about 10 p.m. and works until sunrise. It's been an adjustment, but we can't stop him from doing it."
And Olson is still finding ways to do the things he loves, such as fishing and riding motocross.
"That's the theme we're going with is 'Full Throttle,' because he is a speed freak," Bloomquist said. "He loves racing his snowmobiles and motocross bikes."
In spite of the cancer diagnosis, Bloomquist said her nephew, a 2006 Martin County West graduate, has managed to maintain his laid-back attitude.
"After the initial shock wore off, he was back to being happy-go-lucky and joking," she said. "He really is a big teddy bear underneath it all."
A benefit is being held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Martin County West Junior High School. Along with a free-will lunch, there will be a silent auction, bake sale, quilt raffle and bean bag tournament.
The organizers are farmers themselves, and they realize many of their colleagues will still be out in the fields. The family is willing to accommodate them.
"We know that when it's time to be in the field there are things you don't do: You don't get married, you don't have a baby and you don't hold a benefit," Bloomquist said. "We've done all three."
For farmers, or anyone else interested, organizers will make "to go" boxes that can be picked up on the west side of the school building.
"We'll also be doing 'Full Throttle' T-shirts for the benefit," Bloomquist said.
Donations can be dropped off at Triumph State Bank in Trimont, with checks made out to the Josh Olson benefit. Supplemental funds are being provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Martin County MN Chapter 31197.