Husband Left Alone to Raise 7 Kids after Wife Abandons Family following Son’s Cancer Diagnosis

A father’s life was turned upside down when he received devastating news that his beloved son had cancer. Determined to fight for his boy’s life, he faced the challenge head-on, not realizing that he would soon be faced with another shocking revelation that would shake his world even further.

The thought of their child being in danger is every parent’s worst nightmare, and when a father from Shorewood, Illinois, found out that his son had cancer, his world was turned upside down.

Jeffrey “Jeff” Otte had always been a pillar of his community, offering his assistance to those in need. However, when his son was diagnosed with cancer, he found himself in a difficult situation and in need of help to support his beloved family.

Just a few days before his son’s treatment, Jeff was hit with another heartbreaking news – his wife, and the mother of their children abandoned them, leaving him to face the situation alone.

Jeff was faced with a difficult decision. He could either abandon his children like his wife did, or he could step up and become a single parent to his seven kids. Despite the pain and challenges he faced, he chose to stay and be there for his children during this difficult time.

Navigating Life as a Single Parent After Heartbreaking Cancer Diagnosis of Eldest Son

Jeff had been serving as a paramedic and firefighter for over a decade, always putting others before himself. But on a fateful day in January 2016, his life took a turn for the worse, and he found himself in desperate need of help and support.

Just days before his eldest son’s cancer treatment, Jeff’s wife left him, leaving him to raise their seven children alone. The shock and heartbreak of the situation were overwhelming, but Jeff knew he had to be strong for his children and navigate his new life as a single parent.

Jeff’s oldest son, Brandon, was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), an uncommon cancer that results in the buildup of excess white blood cells and the formation of tumors in the body. The initial signs of the disease appeared in December 2015, when a lump appeared above Brandon’s eye, leading to a visit to a neurologist who identified the tumor.

Jeff was devastated upon learning about Brandon’s diagnosis, feeling a mixture of shock, fear, and intense emotional pain. He later recalled the moment, stating:

“I was shocked. I was not expecting that.”

Despite the devastating news about his son, Jeff knew he had to keep moving forward and be strong for his family. However, his situation worsened when his wife chose to leave him and their children at a time when they needed her the most. This added to his already overwhelming pain and left him feeling even more shattered.

Just four days before Brandon was scheduled to undergo a life-saving surgery to remove a tumor from his skull, his mother abandoned him. Fortunately, his father Jeff was there for him and became his biggest support system.

Jeff, a Frankfort firefighter, now had to take care of his seven children alone, ranging in age from nine to 18 months old. He had to hide the pain he felt while watching his son suffer from cancer.

Jeff revealed that he didn’t have any close or distant relatives to help him, except for his sister Cindy McDorman, who was happy to step forward and support her brother.

Following Cindy’s breast cancer diagnosis, the Otte family faced another challenge. But even then, they remained strong and supportive of each other. Brandon, in particular, found solace in his aunt’s company and asked her to be by his side during his own fight against cancer.

Cindy, who had previously undergone two surgeries to remove aneurysms above her optic nerve, had a double mastectomy and went into remission. She traveled to stay with Brandon for a week each month while he underwent chemotherapy. Despite the obstacles they faced, the Otte family continued to support one another and never gave up.

Jeff was grateful to have his sister’s support during such a difficult time and appreciated all the help she provided. As for his own role in his children’s lives, the single father from Shorewood, Illinois, spoke about it, saying:

“I’ve proudly taken on the role of ‘Mr. Mom’ without directly asking for any assistance. Many people have reached out to me offering assistance, and I’m extremely grateful.”

Jeff faced a daunting challenge as a single parent with his sister as his only support, his eldest son undergoing chemotherapy, and some of his other children having cognitive and developmental conditions like autism.

He had to divide his time between home, frequent doctor visits, and work, but he refused to give up. Jeff was determined to care for his kids as both their mom and dad and worked tirelessly to provide for them.

Receiving Assistance from the Community & Overcoming the Challenge

Jeff created an online fundraising page in August 2016, stating that his son required a 52-week chemotherapy treatment to cure his cancer. The GoFundMe account, created to seek financial assistance, has received $20,965 from 339 donations out of a $50,000 goal.

The Shorewood father asked his community to pray for his family and requested financial help to hire special needs caregivers for his kids while working full-time.

Jeff, a long-time firefighter, expressed his gratitude for the community’s outreach and support in late December 2016. He mentioned that many groups had gone out of their way to surprise his kids with Christmas goodies, making the holiday season memorable for them.

In addition, the Ottes received a special trip to Disneyland, California, funded by the “Make-a-Wish Foundation.” Jeff’s support system gradually grew to include one of his local churches, and he and his family became members of it in September.

According to Nick Sandeno, the church’s pastor, many families and churchgoers, including regular members, stepped up to help and support the Otte family. Along with providing food and childcare assistance, the church members were devoted to finding other ways to alleviate the Otte family’s difficulties.

Nick also expressed his admiration for Jeff’s tireless efforts and unrelenting love for his children during a very challenging time. The pastor praised Jeff’s patience and kindness, noting that he had never witnessed someone go through so much adversity and still maintain hope.

After seven years, Brandon has fully recovered from cancer, and his family is doing well. They recently celebrated Easter and shared a heartwarming photo of their time together.

Brandon, Jeff’s eldest son, has reached significant milestones and will be turning 16 in October 2023. We wish the Ottes all the happiness and memorable experiences in the future.