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Family surprises brain surgery patient at St. Charles Bend

In renewed battle, Jeff Rasmussen also gets to witness son's special moment

(Update: Adding video, comments from patient's family)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Jeff Rasmussen, 56, battled brain cancer nearly a decade ago, and is recovering from brain surgery at St. Charles Bend after being diagnosed again with brain cancer just three weeks ago. 

This hospital stay is much different from the one he had eight years ago. Due to COVID-19, his family, who lives in Bend, has been unable to see him since his name had been called at the waiting room last Thursday.

With the help of some nurses at St. Charles Bend, his family found a way to show its support on the hospital grounds without actually having to step foot in the building.

They held up signs and balloons outside of his window, yelling “I love you!” and “Come home soon!”

His son, Chris Rasmussen, told NewsChannel 21 Monday the first time his father was diagnosed with brain cancer, the doctors told him he had six months to live.

“It’s been almost eight years, and it’s unfortunate it came back,” Chris Rasmussen said. “But he was texting us that night in the ICU like, ‘Hey, kid! I love you.’ Who texts after their second brain surgery?”

Jeff was not the only one getting a Memorial Day surprise.

His son revealed the tri-fold sign he had been showing his father hid a secret message intended for his girlfriend, Genna Salmon.

The sign said “I Love You, Dad” on the front and “Hey Kid,” a term of endearment, on the back. But on the inside was a message he unfolded for Salmon: “Will you marry me?”

“I felt the timing was right, and I’m glad my dad got to see it,” Rasmussen said. “It made him really happy!”

Salmon said she was excited to surprise Jeff, but did not expect to get a surprise of her own.

“I was filming his dad and saw him down on one knee,” Salmon said. “I had no idea!”

Meanwhile, a nurse helped Jeff out of his hospital bed and stand near the window. He shed tears of joy, witnessing his son’s proposal and everyone’s colorful signs, with words of encouragement. 

His family calls him “a walking miracle.”

Jeff’s stepdaughter, Shelly, said she is grateful for the nurses caring for Jeff while his family is unable to see him in person. She said they have ben constantly updating them on his condition. 

His stepdaughter, Carey, said she is also empathetic toward the nurses and medical workers, who also have to shift their approach to families and patients due to COVID-19.

“Jeff is grateful for every day. He is perfectly content doing whatever he does, and he’s happy all the time,” Shelly said. “The nurses keep commenting on how happy and easygoing he is.”

The family said Rasmussen faces a long journey ahead, but he is ready to continue the fight against brain cancer, surrounded by the people who care for him the most.

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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.


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