The day before his 38th birthday, family and friends of an Armstrong man will gather to grieve.
Randy Berkholtz lost his battle to cancer on March 11, 2019 in Kelowna General Hospital.
“Dec. 25 he went to the hospital and he never came out,” said mom Janet Collins, who watched the aggressive sarcoma take over her son’s body.
Despite standing more than six feet tall and weighing in at 335 lbs, Berkholtz was no match for cancer.
“He had been going to the hospital pretty much weekly since October,” said girlfriend Michelle Tapp. “They kept telling him it was nothing.”
Berkholtz was initially admitted to Vernon Jubilee Hospital, but he and his family insisted he moved.
“He was misdiagnosed, to begin with, we feel,” said Collins.”He had been in the hospital in Vernon for about a month and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.”
Once in Kelowna, doctors were able to identify the source of pain and discomfort that Berkholtz had been struggling with for months – sarcoma.
“He had a tumour in his chest,” said Tapp. “It crushed his one lung almost immediately.”
Radiation and chemotherapy were attempted but nothing could stop the fast-growing, rare cancer.
Along with his mother, father, girlfriend, sister and a wealth of friends, Berkholtz leaves behind his 13-year-old son Adam.
“His main love was his son,” said Collins of Adam, who will be 14 in June.
Adam’s aunt, Misty Berkholtz, has started a Go Fund Me page to help the young man during this difficult time and into the future.
“We really want to give some support to Adam, he’s 13 and we felt this would be a good idea,” said Randy’s older sister Misty. “He may be feeling pretty lost right now. We just want him to know that there are people around everywhere that think about him and love him.
“His dad was his primary caregiver.”
Adam remains in his own with Tapp, who is trying to care for him the best she can.
“She is absolutely amazing with him,” said Collins.
Formerly from Kelowna, Tapp said Adam returned to school Monday, April 1 and is doing OK. But of course, there are many times when the pair misses the mellow, funny presence of Randy.
“He was a great dad, he definitely had his rules and they needed to be followed, but he was very attentive to Adam,” said Tapp, who met Randy on the dating website Plenty of Fish.
The trio could often be seen at the Enderby Drive-In, floating down the Shuswap River or having family dinners with cousins.
“He liked music, and he was a really handsome guy,” said Tapp.
Randy had tattoos and a moustache and goatee along with a shaven head, yet he was very polite, his mom fondly says.
The Pleasant Valley Secondary grad grew up on the coast in Gibsons and has always had a large circle of friends.
“Right from when he started school down on the coast he had lots of friends,” said Collins. “There was always somebody sleeping over or coming for supper. He was well-liked.”
Growing up he loved baseball and bowling, even making it to the provincial championships. While he never made it to the big leagues, his love for these sports never faded.
“He played baseball at (Funtastic) every year and he used to go bowling quite a bit,” said Collins.
Randy was a lead hand trucker with OVH Enterprises Ltd., out of Vernon.
Snowmobiling and ATV-ing were also favourite past times. Therefore, Randy’s wish was to have his ashes spread up Hunter’s Range. A group he used to go riding with will do so in the summer.
Prior to that, a Celebration of Life takes place Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m. at the Chapel of Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services (2980 Smith Dr., Armstrong). In lieu of flowers, support donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/fund-for-adam-berkholtz to help Randy’s son Adam during this difficult time.