American man wants to see Toowoomba before he dies
AN AMERICAN man with only months left to live has one wish before he dies - to visit Toowoomba.
Aric Hoogerwerf, 37, discovered in September he had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
He met Toowoomba man Matt Doran about 10 years ago during a chance encounter on the online role-playing game World of Warcraft.
Mr Doran said they quickly developed a strong friendship, talking for up to 10 hours a day.
The Toowoomba man was a "tank" type character and Mr Hoogerwerf a "healer", something that required intense cooperation.
Their bond grew and Mr Doran said he considered his friend, who he has never met in person, as family.
"We both had our hardships and helped each other through it," he said.
They had always planned to meet but when he found out the American had terminal cancer and wanted to visit Toowoomba, he said there was an added urgency.
Mr Hoogerwerf said the men both had children about the same age and were "like brothers".
When he underwent back surgery and Mr Doran shoulder surgery they each had time off work and they sent each other finger puppets to cheer each other up. They are so close they even talk to each other's wives when the other is at work.
Mr Hoogerwerf said it was important to talk to friends and family about his condition and that included friends from around the world.
In December doctors told the Iowa man he had stage four of the cancer, which had progressed into his lungs and around his heart.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatment will likely only buy him another month of life and he made the decision to spend his remaining time making memories with his family.
He said the Dorans were like family and saying goodbye in person was something he wanted to do before he died.
His wife Dru, who has visited Australia in the past, has set up a aGoFundme page help pay for the visit to Toowoomba, estimated to cost between $5000 and $7000 at gofundme.com/help-aric-reach-australialymphoma.