Prairie du Sac man given months to live asking for as many Christmas cards as possible

In the Weittenhiller home in Prairie du Sac, Christmas is one of the most important days of the year.

Gene Weittenhiller has celebrated Christmas with his wife, Linda Weittenhiller, for the past 40 years.

He said this year, he’s cherishing the gift of time.

In January, he said he had his prostate gland removed after cancer was detected. Weittenhiller said his family celebrated, thinking he was cancer-free.

But a radiology report came back after his surgery showing that a tumor was growing on his pancreas. The cancer spread to his liver. Gene Weittenhiller started chemotherapy in mid-August. He lost 50 pounds and said, “It unfortunately showed that it had not caused any shrinkage at all in the primary tumor on my pancreas and, in fact, some of the lesions on my liver, where it’s growing, had increased in size.”

Weittenhiller said he stopped chemotherapy three weeks ago because the treatment wasn’t working and it was worsening his quality of life.

“My youngest granddaughter, who is 3 years old, doesn’t grasp that Grandpa W is sick and he isn’t able to get on the ground and roll around with me anymore. That’s very difficult for me to accept,” he said.

His wife said the whole journey has been “devastating. Mostly because we just retired, we are just enjoying being close to our kids and our grandchildren.”

Weittenhiller’s doctor says he has months left to live.

“We are each other’s best friends, we are travel buddies, we do everything together. That’s why I’m going to miss him so much,” Linda Weittenhiller said.

Gene Weittenhiller’s son, Ross Weittenhiller, said when he heard that his dad was going to stop chemotherapy, he said: “I was proud of him. I knew how hard that was, and I knew that he wasn’t giving up. He was making the best choice for how he wanted to feel.”

Ross Weittenhiller has gone above and beyond to make his dad’s final months alive the happiest ones yet.

Ross Weittenhiller has contacted the Packers who sent his dad a football signed by the entire team and coaching staff, reached out to “Jeopardy” host and fellow pancreatic cancer patient, Alex Trebek, who signed a photo and wrote him a handwritten letter of support; and contacted neighbors, many of whom have brought over food and offered to help remove snow when Gene Weittenhiller is no longer around.

Ross Weittenhiller said in an attempt to make this Christmas the most memorable one yet for the whole family, he is asking anyone and everyone to send as many Christmas cards as possible to his dad to show him that he isn’t alone.

“I’ve been a firefighter for 13 years,” Ross Weittenhiller said. “I’ve been with Sauk City for five. I was an EMT for six years with Dane County District 1. One thing I learned from all that is sometimes you help out a complete stranger just because they asked. This time, I’m the one asking from other complete strangers.”

Although Gene Weittenhiller said he had no idea his son was doing all these things for him, he is excited to see how many Christmas cards he gets and anticipates an “overwhelming outpouring of love and support of people that I’ve never met and probably never will, but (people) who care.”

If you would like to send a Christmas card, you can mail it to the following address:

Gene Weittenhiller

410 20th St.

Prairie du Sac, WI 53578

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