MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - A terminal cancer patient and his Minneapolis family are so grateful for a simple gesture from Target as the holiday season draws to a close. The locally-based retailer has made sure Tom Hicks has an ample supply of his favorite drink, eggnog in the weeks ahead even as the product disappears from store shelves after Christmas.
"I wouldn't be drinking all of this had it not been for the diagnosis," Hicks told FOX 9’s Paul Blume as he pointed to several quart-size cartons of Favorite Day eggnog on his daughter’s kitchen table, explaining the holiday treat has proven to be almost medicinal as he looks to keep weight on during the fight for his life.
His adult twin daughters, Rachel Hicks and Megan Bekwelem recalled how their father has always loved eggnog from their early childhood days growing up in Brooklyn Park, "We remember having eggnog flights where dad would go out and buy all the different brands of eggnog so we could sample each one, do little taste tests, and have our little rating sheet where we score the eggnog by consistency, sweetness and thickness."
But this year with the drink’s annual shelf life in grocery stores coming to an end, the 78 year old and his daughters were desperate to find a way to make sure Tom’s fridge remained stocked with eggnog, particularly his favorite brand, Target’s Favorite Day. That is because Tom was recently diagnosed with a rare, terminal cancer known as Cholangiocarcinoma that attacks the bile ducts. He was given maybe a year to live. Especially worrying, he was quickly losing weight after chemotherapy sessions. Turns out the eggnog, with its 180 calories per serving, has proven to be just what the doctor ordered. The family reports getting the thumbs up from the medical team.
"Why eggnog," asked Hicks. "The oncologist says two things. One, any calorie is a good calorie and it is high in calories as you can imagine. And two, is that you should be when you're going through cancer, drinking lots of liquids. The doctor says, great. It's a good liquid."
"As a caretaker, I am like, how can we get more calories? What are the things that we love?" Megan Hicks remembered thinking soon after the devastating diagnosis. "Like this eggnog really is liquid gold."
Liquid gold, and nearly impossible to find after December 25th annually as stores typically only carry eggnog through the holidays. So daughter Rachel checked in with a friend at Target’s corporate office a couple of weeks ago. She could not believe the lightning-fast response.
"She called us within 24 hours and says, can you get to the Crystal Target? You've got 100 cartons waiting for you there. And we were together when we got that call. We both were in tears because as caretakers, you know, getting calories and making sure that the weight doesn't plummet so quickly is pretty important."
The $2.99 cartons are now packed away in refrigerators and family freezers for Tom’s journey ahead, the hope is they will be pouring glasses with him next Christmas. Tom said he goes through about one carton daily, sometimes accounting for one-third of his caloric intake that day. The family has been told the frozen eggnog can be kept for about 6 months. Tom says it tastes just the same after it thaws.
"I feel really grateful that we have some time," explained Rachel Hicks. "He has created a bucket list. And, you know, I just feel really thankful and grateful that we have time to make memories together, to have quality time together, have meals together, check off the bucket list items together, enjoy a cup of eggnog together."
Added Tom, who goes through two-week cycles of chemotherapy before taking a week off, "The way I feel right now, I will tell you, it could be two years, or three. I mean, I just feel good. Guess why (as he held up a glass of eggnog)? So I don't feel any impending doom or sadness."