MORRIS – Ron Marx has always lived an active life.
He was an officer with the Morris Police Department for five years in the 1980s, and has been an active firefighter with Naperville Fire Department, Homer Township Fire Protection District and most recently with Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District.
When he became increasingly and unreasonably tired, he assumed it was because he was burning the candle at both ends, running in the Republican primary race for Grundy County sheriff and working part time at the Morris fire department.
“I had my annual physical for the fire department and the following day the doctor’s office called,” Marx said. “They told me all three liver enzymes were elevated and so was my white blood cell count. They wanted me to take another blood test.”
On April 11, Marx learned he had small cell cancer and there was a mass on his liver and several tumors. His oncologist told him that if he didn’t do treatment, he would live another 30 to 60 days. If he started chemotherapy right away, he would live another six months to two years.
“The doctor told me he had one patient who lived five years with treatment,” Marx said. “So I said I’ll go six years.”
While small cell cancer is a lung cancer, it is not present in his lungs.
“I should have known something was wrong,” his wife, Tina, said. “In the last election, he was going strong in the end. This time, he just seemed tired.”
Marx ran against the late Sheriff Terry Marketti in 2010, but lost. He ran in the last primary to run again for sheriff, but lost the Republican ticket.
Tina said looking back there were some mood changes, and her husband snapped at things he typically wouldn’t have.
“He’s the most gentle, loving person I’ve ever met,” she said.
Marx said he usually feels like a million bucks and isn’t the kind to go to the doctor with a sniffle. Many men he knows also don’t go to the doctor regularly.
He’s hoping that his story will lead others to go to the doctor for physicals and not count on feeling bad if something is wrong.
“When the doctor told me the results, he told me how sick I was,” he said. “It didn’t make sense. If someone told me to run a mile, I could do it.”
Marx has started chemotherapy treatment and will have six rounds.
Due to his illness, he is unable to continue at his job at the Morris fire department, and Tina, who works part time, has taken time off to be with him during his treatments.
Friends are planning a fundraiser to help them financially.
“When I call him a gentle giant I mean it,” said JoAnne Gretencord, who is helping to organize the fundraiser. “He’s an awesome person, and they need finances to survive.”
If you go What: Fundraiser for Ron Marx When: 4 to 8 p.m., June 28 Where: Clayton’s Tap, 122 W. Washington St., Morris Cost: $10