Restaurant owners pursuing their dream in northern Minnesota rocked by cancer diagnosis

The couple fell in love after working in the Twin Cities, but one is now fighting for their life.
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A former Twin Cities couple who chased their dream by opening a restaurant in northern Minnesota are now facing a nightmare after a series of setbacks culminated with a devastating cancer diagnosis.

It was all going so well for Robert and Shauna Banta, who had been friends for several years while working together in the Twin Cities, and fell in love when their time as colleagues came to an end and they realized how much they missed each other.

After getting married in 2013, they took the first step towards their dream by moving out of the cities and into northern Minnesota, where they already spent much of their time hiking, camping and fishing.

Part 2 of their dream was achieved in 2016 when they opened the Screaming Eagle Restaurant in Pelican Rapids, aiming to create a community hub that offered great food and service.

But the turn of the year brought with it a series of setbacks that started when Robert fell ill in January with what doctors diagnosed at a bronchial infection, which led to backache as a result of the subsequent coughing.

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Things went from bad to worse when their restaurant's furnace packed up at the end of January, costing them several days of income, before Robert's condition worsened, prompting an unwanted hospital trip on Valentine's Day.

It turns out, the cause of the bronchitis and back pain was something much more severe, with a scan finding a spot near Robert's lung, before others found similar spots on his lung, liver, spine and throughout his abdomen.

Cancer was unfortunately confirmed, with Robert starting treatment last month, and doctors remain optimistic they can get him into remission and keep him there.

Cost of care puts their future at risk

A GoFundMe campaign has been started by some of their friends to help with the medical costs, after the Bantas found that only some of the treatment Robert needs is covered by their insurance.

This includes IV treatments costing $17,000 per session, which is only partially covered, while he also has to pay for a decent chunk of his prescriptions, as well as fuel costs for the regular 60-mile round trip he has to make to get treatment.

Even if everything was covered, managing the restaurant is a two-person operation, and Shauna has to close up if Robert is too sick to work.

This is putting their financial futures – and the future of their restaurant – at risk, prompting their friends to launch the fundraiser to aid Robert's recovery, and ensure the Bantas and the Screaming Eagle are in Pelican Rapids for a long time to come.

The fundraiser has raised just under $1,400 since it launched last week.

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