Devastation. Shock. That's what Julie Johnsen said she felt when she heard her brother, Matt Davitt, had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer originating from white blood cells.
"He's my brother and I love him to pieces," Johnsen said Tuesday.
The 47-year-old, who owns The Pub in downtown Two Harbors, was diagnosed last month. He spent a couple of weeks receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and is now continuing treatments in Duluth. He lives near Island Lake with one of his three kids.
Johnsen, Davitt and another brother and sister grew up in Rochester and Davitt stayed with his two sisters while undergoing treatment. He's been off work since the diagnosis, taking time away from the restaurant and his day job as a representative for a pharmaceutical company.
"Obviously, he's a very hard worker and right now he's not able to work because of his energy level," said Jane Wilder, the manager at The Pub.
Wilder has worked at The Pub since Davitt opened the Irish restaurant and bar in 2008 and called him "a great guy." She estimated that he will be unable to work for five or six months, so she decided, with the help of friends, family members and coworkers, to organize a benefit to help with his expenses.
The spaghetti dinner benefit will be held on Nov. 30 from 4-8 p.m. at the American Legion Post 109 in Two Harbors. It will include a silent auction, meat raffle, 50/50 drawing and basket raffles.
"I'm super impressed with what people have been donating and how the community really comes together," Wilder said, adding that Blackwoods, Betty's Pies, Bernick's and Superior Beverages have made significant donations. Wilder said all of the money raised will go toward Davitt's medical and household bills.
Despite the hardships, Johnsen said her brother is keeping his head up.
"He's actually had a really positive outlook on his treatments and life in general. He knows that he's got to get it done and he doesn't complain," Johnsen said.