Rich and Marla Hinners, of Kansasville, have spent the last several months battling Rich’s brain cancer. Chapel on the Hill Community Church in Lake Geneva is hosting a breakfast fundraiser for the family from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1.

Area man supported while battling brain cancer

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

When Rich Hinners, of Kansasville, was diagnosed with brain cancer last summer, his wife, Marla, thought they would be facing the battle on their own.

She was wrong.

“I could say thank you a million times and it wouldn’t be enough,” Marla Hinners said. “So many people have offered prayers and assistance, it’s just been beyond what I ever could have imagined.

“I really thought we’d be doing this alone, but the outpouring of love and help we’ve gotten from everyone has just been amazing.”

The offers of help have run the gamut from dinners to driving and the Hinners and their children have been humbled by the generosity of the community, Marla said.

“It’s meant so much to us,” she added. “I didn’t realize how many people even knew who we were until this. Seriously, everywhere I go people are coming up to me and asking if they can help.”

While Marla may have been surprised with the community’s support, it’s not hard to understand why people are stepping up.

With Rich Hinners working as a self-employed independent remodeling contractor in the area for the last three years – he opened his own business after more than 20 years in the industry – he interacts with people on a daily basis.

Add to that the family’s local history and it’s easy to see where those strong community connections formed.

Rich, 50, is an East Troy High School graduate who served five years in the U.S. Army. Marla, 48, and a Burlington High School graduate, works at Dover Stables.

Their children, Riley, 21, and Hannah, 19, graduated from Waterford High School while their youngest, Lily, 14, is a freshman at Waterford High.

The Hinners are also active in the same church they were married in, Chapel on the Hill in Lake Geneva where a breakfast fundraiser is planned in a few weeks.

The devastating news

Rich was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme tumor late last summer, Marla said. It’s a Class 4 aggressive brain cancer.

“He had been having headaches but he kept saying ‘it’s too hot,’ or ‘I’m just stressed,’ or I just worked too much’… any excuse you could think of,” Marla said. “But they just kept getting worse and worse and then he said he thought he was having migraines. I told him that it didn’t sound normal and he never had them before, but again he just put it off with another excuse.”

Marla said it was Aug. 28, 2019, when she finally convinced Rich to seek medical help.

“He got a really bad headache and he couldn’t work. He went out to his van and slept for two hours but when he woke up he realized this might be a bigger problem than he realized and he drove to the ER in Burlington,” she recalled.

“He called me and said ‘I’m in the ER and they did a scan and they found a spot on my brain.’ And that’s when our lives changed.”

Marla drove Rich from the Burlington hospital to St. Luke’s in Milwaukee where he was admitted for tests.

“We spoke to several surgeons and surgery was scheduled for Sept. 11 because they wanted time to analyze the tests and see what they were up against,” Marla said. “They sent him home after a couple of days with steroids for the pain and swelling and told us to comeback in two weeks for the surgery.”

The surgery was delayed until Sept. 18 when Rich needed an infected tooth removed.

Marla said Rich spent about two weeks in the hospital following the surgery to recover.

“It was a very invasive surgery and he was having balance issues and things like that so they kept him for inpatient physical therapy,” she said.

But within a week of coming home, the Hinners were back at the hospital for a second surgery.

“The symptoms worsened radically,” Marla said. “The first surgery they only removed about a third to a half of the tumor because it was so invasive, but by Oct. 2 we were back at St. Luke’s with Rich’s headaches worse than ever.”

The tumor had grown back fully in that short amount of time and had actually grown, Marla said.

“This time they removed it all, including a ventricle with spinal fluid they were worried about during the first surgery because it was in a sensitive spot,” she said.

In the second surgery, doctors were able to remove about 80% of the tumor, along with the ventricle wall which contained the cerebral spinal fluid that the tumor was growing through.

Because of the aggressiveness of his tumor, six weeks of radiation followed almost immediately.

Encouraged by his latest MRI results, which show a significant reduction in the size of the mass, Rich will continue with chemotherapy for the next six to 12 months, as long as the tumor is responding to the treatment.

“He’s improving daily and getting much better,” Marla said. “He’s got ants in his pants because he wants to get out and do things.”

How you can help

The family’s church, Chapel on the Hill Community Church in Lake Geneva, is hosting a Breakfast Fundraiser for the Hinners on Saturday, Feb. 1.

“Rich and Marla were married at Chapel on the Hill almost 25 years ago and continue to be a part of our Chapel Family each week, spending 35 to 40 minutes traveling each way from Kansasville, where they now live. Rich has driven the Inspiration Ministries van, bringing their residents to our Chapel Worship service at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday, for many years,” the church stated in a press release.

The fundraiser will serve breakfast for $5 a person (kids 5 and younger eat for free) from 8 to 11 a.m. that day to raise money for the family.

The menu includes scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes, toast, orange juice, milk and coffee. Tickets are available at or at the door.



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