#TeamEric raises money to beat Hodgkin's lymphoma

#TeamEric raises money to beat Hodgkin's lymphoma

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

It was an “unreal moment” that turned a fan into a star, and a star into a fan -- and more importantly, the moment helped bring life-saving medical treatment to a Minneapolis man.

Last November, Elton John dedicated “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to Eric Gilseth, a 30-year-old Minneapolis man, who had just defeated Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“This song is for Eric Gilseth,” Elton told the crowd, “He’s determined to live and he will.”

The song started, tears flowed, and Elton invited Eric onto the stage for the song’s ending. The crowd went wild.

VIDEO: Elton John dedicates song to Minneapolis cancer survivor

It was an inspiring moment; however, unknown to most of his friends, Eric’s cancer had returned.

“I kept it a secret for a little while because I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to have my last birthday,” Eric told Fox 9 News.

Gilseth wanted his friends to feel normal, too.

By worrying about everyone else feeling “normal,” Gilseth showed how extraordinary he was -- working hard every day to remain positive despite a recent stem cell transplant and confinement to a quarantined hospital room for two or three months.

“It’s hard trying to be happy -- to put forth that energy every day when you’re trying to not to throw up and get out of bed," he admitted. "So having a positive attitude takes work, and that’s where my friends, family, and Team Eric comes in. There are some days I can’t do it on my own."

Team Eric, also known as #TeamEric, is the name Eric’s fans -- family, friends, and strangers who support him -- adopted for their Facebook page, through which they accept donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, LLS, an organization that helps cancer patients with everything from co-payments to heating bills.

The help doesn’t end there, though. Elton John helped Eric meet with one of the top cancer doctors in the country; the Houston doctor provided treatment for Elton’s friend with cancer.

Now, Gilseth is in a clinical trial at the University of Minnesota. Despite his tough battle, Eric has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the LLS from his hospital room and was nominated for “Man of the Year” by the organization, an award announced on Friday. Meanwhile, he’s trying to collect more money before the deadline at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.

“Honestly, I don’t know what I did to deserve all this help. I’m very grateful for it,” Gilseth told Fox 9 News.

Eric remains concerned with the well-being of his friends and family.

“When one person gets cancer, it’s not just me. It’s my mom, dad, family, colleagues, and friends. Everybody sort of gets cancer with you. It’s important for me to tell them I’m doing okay,” Eric told Fox 9 News.

“Eric is just such an awesome person, such a happy guy. He motivates so many people,” Justin Reis, Eric’s partner of five years, told Fox 9 News. “Just seeing him fight so hard during these times of when he got his stem cell transplant. He’s quarantined in his room for two or three months, yet ye’s so positive and has such good energy.”

“He’s been such an inspiration to all of us,” Karen Gilseth, Eric’s mom, told Fox 9 News, “Every day is a gift.”

To donate to #TeamEric, go to http://www.ericgilseth.com/LLS. The deadline for donations is Thursday at 11:59 pm.

To learn more about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, go to http://www.lls.org/aboutlls/chapters/mn/.

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