Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County community members step up to help one of their own

Santa Cruz Co. Sheriff's deputy's pregnant wife has brain tumor

Sheriff's Office helping deputy and his wife

LOMPICO, Calif. - Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputy Brian Lande and his wife Melissa were thrilled when they found out in October that they were expecting their first child.

Then in January, Lande had to go on leave from the Sheriff's Office due to a wrist injury he suffered while trying to apprehend a suspect. He was granted six weeks of paid leave.

He was planning on returning to work as planned when his wife began experiencing what he called "crippling headaches." They thought it was a pregnancy-related symptom, but Melissa's doctors were concerned and ordered an MRI.

The MRI results showed Brian and Melissa something they were not expecting, nor were they prepared for what they were about to hear next.

"I've got a baby and I may or may not be a single daddy at this point," said Lande.

The results showed Melissa had a tumor, and Lande says the doctors brought in specialists, because it's not a tumor doctors typically see, nor do they know how it's affecting the couple's unborn son.

Central Coast News talked with Lande through Skype on Wednesday because he hasn't left his wife's side at the  San Francisco hospital where she is being treated. 

Melissa is now in a coma and her future -- and that of the couple's unborn son -- is uncertain.

"I am really hurting right now an enormous amount, and I'm having to deal with that…while fighting for and making sure our baby comes healthy," says Lande.

The couple have both put work on hold, but Brian knows the medical bills are piling up. He says it's an added stressor worrying about keeping the bills paid, and making sure his wife gets the care she needs to get better.

Some of Lande's friends from the Capitola Police Department decided to help. They started an online fundraiser in his name, raising over $46,000 so far (donate here).

The Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office is lending a helping hand for whatever Brian needs from them.

"The deputies and the Deputy Sheriffs Association have done their best by donating money and helping to arrange a living situation close to the hospital so he can be by Melissa's side," said Ryan Kennedy, a spokesman with the Sheriff's Office.

Lande is struggling to get a handle on his life now, and focusing on getting his wife and his unborn son healthy.

"Up until the last week my wife and I were building a life together and now I'm fighting to get that life back," said Lande.

While what lies in the future is unclear, he is sure the community will be there to support them.

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