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CRAIG ROBERT HELLMERS: LEGACY HERO
Craig Was The Epitome of Courage and Hope.
His cherished memory will last forever.
Regretfully, we announce that Craig Robert Hellmers passed away on April 8, 2022 at the age of 51, overlooking the ocean in his Florida home with his beautiful wife, family, and friends. He fought a heroic battle with pancreatic cancer.
Craig was born on April 5, 1971 to Robert and Lynne Helmers in Van Nuys, California. He is survived by his wife, Tricia Hellmers; daughter, Rylee Shepherd; step-son, Dr. Koalby Brown; daughter-in-law, Haley Brown; grandson, Walker Brown; father, Dr. Robert Hellmers; mother, Lynne Hellmers; sisters, Kimberly Hellmers and Roz Trull.
Craig received a Bachelor of Science-Aerospace Studies degree from Embry Riddle in 1994. He started his professional career in Prescott, Arizona as a flight instructor. From there he moved to Anchorage Alaska for his first airline job where he delivered unconventional cargo to fire fighters and Indigenous people in far north, remote villages. He then proceeded to work for other regional airlines in Texas, Montana, and Utah.
These experiences earned him his position as a Captain at JetBlue, flying the Airbus A320. His love of flying and aviation was so strong that it inspired Rylee to follow in his footsteps.
Craig enjoyed exploring the outdoors and traveling the world. He loved encouraging his friends and family to go on extraordinary adventures with him, such as snowshoeing down mountains in the dark of the night. Craig did not let his cancer diagnosis define him; he continued to live life to the fullest. He chose to become an advocate for pancreatic cancer and to inspire others with his story. He maintained a positive attitude and a fighting spirit. He continually showed more concern for his wife, family, and friends than for himself. Even though Craig was taken too soon, he lived a remarkably full life, surrounded by people who loved and adored him. In his lifetime he amassed an enviable collection of true friends. His legacy of unconditional love and loyal friendship will endure forever. “WarriorOn.”
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to the Seena Magowitz Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer research and pilot trials.
READ CRAIG’S ORIGINAL WARRIOR STORY BELOW.
Craig was the epitome of positive outlook, hope, and inspiration.
His cherished memory will last a lifetime and beyond.
An Amazing Inspirational Story
Written By Debra Gelbart
October 20, 2019
Diagnosed: June, 2018
Status Update: Presently No Sign of Active Cancer
Craig Hellmers’ life changed its trajectory on the night before Father’s Day in 2018. A healthy, energetic pilot based in Florida for a commercial airline, Craig suddenly started experiencing stomach pain and noticed a yellowish cast to his eyes. The next day, on Father’s Day, an urgent care center in Fort Lauderdale recommended he go to a hospital emergency department.
He was diagnosed with a mass in his small intestine and later, his doctors told him he had stage 1 cancer of the pancreas. In mid-July of 2018, he underwent a Whipple procedure. He tolerated the surgery well but began to experience complications after being discharged from the Florida hospital just three and a half days later. The next day (four and a half days after the surgery), he was admitted to the ICU. He lapsed into a coma and didn’t wake up until mid- August.
A New Life Begins
Craig and the love of his life, Tricia, had been together for six years before that, but hadn’t been in a hurry to marry. But when Craig woke up from his coma, “I realized the person taking care of me every day, was Tricia,” he said. “I wasn’t healthy and yet, she was still by my side. That’s when I knew what true love is and that’s when I knew I wanted to marry her.”
On September 11, 2018 with Craig still in his hospital bed, the couple exchanged wedding vows.
When Craig was discharged from the hospital again, he learned that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer and he started researching possible treatments. A friend in Phoenix wanted him to connect with HonorHealth Research Institute in Scottsdale where several clinical trials for pancreatic cancer are being administered. Craig qualified for the study, called the Trial of Ascorbic Acid (AA) + Nanoparticle Paclitaxel Protein Bound + Cisplatin + Gemcitabine.
Spectacularly Encouraging Initial Results, Ongoing Good News
After being on the chemotherapy-plus-ascorbic-acid (also known as Vitamin C) protocol for nine weeks, a CT scan showed that Craig’s tumors had shrunk by as much as 50 percent.
Today, after completing nine months of chemotherapy, Craig is showing no signs of active cancer. “My scans have been excellent,” Craig said. “I’m now on a maintenance plan of oral medication. The five- year average survival rate for this terrible disease is 9 percent, so why can’t I be part of the 9 percent? I’m grateful to HonorHealth Research Institute and Seena Magowitz Foundation for giving patients like me hope in beating this awful disease.