Erik Jensen, best known for his roles in “The Walking Dead,” “For Life” and “Mr. Robot,” has been diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer.
The actor, writer and director’s wife – fellow multi-hyphenate Jessica Blank – announced the diagnosis in a post on GoFundMe, with Jensen “miraculously surviving a brain aneurysm just a year and a half ago.”
Blank shared the “cancer has metastasized to his liver, but Erik is young and strong (cutting a film during chemo, working full-time as a director and writer throughout) and his doctors think they have a shot at shrinking the tumors enough to do two very major surgeries and get them all out.”
In a statement shared with USA TODAY by his publicist, Jensen said, “I am resilient; I will continue working as an actor/writer through this fight, and I plan to come out the other side of this stronger. I have an enormous amount of gratitude for the friends and strangers who’ve come together to support my family as we beat cancer.”
In an Instagram post from Saturday sharing the GoFundMe information, Blank wrote that Jensen is “a survivor” and “makes beauty out of adversity and he fights for the underdog every day.”
She asked fans to “send him your prayers and love (and UNION JOBS! he has all his hair and is working through this as a writer director actor- this is a man who survives by creating & always has).”
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Colorectal cancer, encompassing colon cancer and rectal cancer, is “a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum grow out of control,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Blank is looking to raise $300,000 to pay for treatment and support the family while Jensen, 53, is out of work during his treatment.
The couple has been together for 23 years and the two share a 13-year-old daughter, Sadie, the post said.
“He needs to help his daughter grow up,” according to the GoFundMe, which has raised nearly $92,000 so far. “He needs to stick around for the beautiful community he and Jess have built. And he has a lot more art to make in the world.”
The post also mentions how the resolved screenwriters’ strike and ongoing actors’ strike, coupled with Jensen’s health, have put the family in an “extremely precarious financial position.”
“Due to the strikes, the nonexistence of streaming residuals, and the fact that in a best case scenario, Erik may be recovering from major surgery during the exact earnings period to qualify for SAG insurance for 2025 – the family is facing a serious risk of losing their health insurance for 2025,” the post said. “If you are in a position to hire Jess, or Jess and Erik, for a WGA job this year – please reach out.”
Jensen told USA TODAY, “As a proud member of both SAG-AFTRA and the WGA, I’ve seen our industry change profoundly in the last few years – changes which mean I’ll likely lose my insurance for the first time in 35 years just as I embark on fighting a serious medical diagnosis.
“My story is just one illustration of what’s been happening to hundreds of middle-class actors for exactly the reasons we are on strike right now.”
Jensen played Dr. Steven Edwards in Season 5 of “The Walking Dead” and conspiracy theorist Frank Cody in Seasons 2 and 3 of “Mr. Robot.”
“The Walking Dead” star Jeffrey Dean Morgan voiced words of support on X, formerly Twitter: “Never had the chance to work with Erik… until now anyway. Only have heard many things about what a great guy he is. I do know he and his could use some help…. Of any and all kind.”