SOUTH HAVEN | Just four months ago, George Wagner was feeling fine.
Then, said daughter Sara Wagner Fields, he found a lump on his back. She made him a doctor's appointment. Before he could keep the appointment, another large mass bulged from his neck.
About a week later the family got the diagnosis. Wagner was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastic lung cancer.
He underwent treatments for cancer. Then about two weeks ago Wagner came down with pneumonia and has been in Porter Regional Hospital ever since, said Fields, adding the family has decided to stop all cancer treatments and doctors give him about a month to live.
Wagner, of Union Township, retired from U.S. Steel in 2003 and opened Pirates Cove Pet Shoppe in the Portage Mall in 2004. He moved the business to Peach Tree Center in 2007. He ran the business with his wife Renee until he became ill. His son, George, has taken over the business and moved it to U.S. 6.
"We've had a huge outpouring of people," said Fields, adding the kind words and recollections of friends and customers at the shop have touched her family.
Fields added that the family is leaning on each other.
"We all have our moments and lean on each other. We spend as much time in the hospital as possible with him right now," she said, adding they spend time reminiscing and looking at family photos.
Fields said while her father has retiree's insurance from the steelmaker, it isn't covering all the costs.
South Haven American Legion Post 502, 429 West County Road 750 North, is hosting the benefit for Wagner and his family to help with increasing medical bills.
The benefit is from noon to 8 p.m. June 14 and will feature live music, cash bar, food, raffles and drawings. Cover cost is $10 per person.
People not able to attend the benefit may send donations to the family to the legion post with "Wagner Benefit" in the memo line.
The family has also established a gofundme account and donations can be made online there at gofundme.com and searching with Wagner's name.