And What Followed...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Camp Keepsake

Camp Keepsake Promo Video

I just returned from a weekend of volunteering at Camp Keepsake. I've attended this wonderful
camp as a patient and guest in the past. This year I returned as a host (like a camp counselor) to welcome the new campers!

It was a thrill to return healthy and to return to give back to an organization led by a group of the most passionate and authentic people I have met in my cancer journey. Camp Keepsake has done so much for me and my family and friends. I've seen the camp give hope and transform patients into a family of warriors for love and life. I know it may sound a bit overwrought but I guess you have to experience for yourself the beauty and inspiration this single weekend of camp does for so many.

I was lucky to be paired with a
wonderful family group and made quick friends with Sophie and little Lauren. Both their mothers were dealing with health issues so it was a true gift to be able to give these little girls a chance to be little girls; to give them a break from the difficulties and suffering that illness can burden upon a family. Camp Keepsake is the one weekend when families can be "normal"and enjoy life and each other without worrying about chemo, needles and doctor appointments.

Thanks to Chris, Karie, Thomas, Melissa, Kristi, Carmine, Mara, Juli, Jason, Mark, Ryan, Oscar, Rose, Louie, Alon, Kevin, Joe, Dale, Drew, Gary, Emily, and everyone involved with camp. Here is another way that we take tragedy and turn it into something beautiful.

I can't wait to volunteer again next year!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

NAI - USC Marrow Drive

My undergrad Alma Mater is the University of Southern California. One week ago, thanks to my dear friends Tim & Margaret, I was 23 rows from the field at the awesome Ohio State rout. (USC 35, OSU 3). Today, it felt great to return to campus and show my Trojan Pride in a completely different way

The Neighborhood Academic Initiative is a University program designed to help get disadvantaged youth on track towards a college degree. Most of the teens in the program would otherwise not have a chance at a college education. A full-scholarship at USC awaits those who successfully complete the program and pass the application process. I had the pleasure of meeting a "graduate"of the program who is now attaining her Master's degree at USC.

I gave a talk at an intimate auditorium on campus in an effort to sign more donors onto the registry. Jerome Williams was also there to speak and the marrow drive was done in his name. Sadly, Jerome has not found a match yet and a number of the African-Americans in the audience voiced their desire to be his donor.

A majority of the attendees were Latino, which was wonderful because it is not often that I get a chance to reach out to the Hispanic community. There were many parents present who did not speak English, so my words had to be translated by an interpreter. There was still hope for Jerome, as he has some Latino blood in him.

A great discussion ensued after the talk and we dispelled many of the myths of donating marrow while talking about love, community and the miracle of saving a life . In the end, we signed up over 60 new donors. I just know that there will be matches for other patients to be found in that special group. :)

Thanks to Vivian, Maria, Monica and Michelle for a successful drive!



Friday, September 5, 2008


I'm devastated to report that my sister's cancer has relapsed. As most of you know, my brother and I also fought Lymphoma.

When will this end?

Please pray for her health.
And for the strength of her husband, Tony.


ADDENDUM: September 12, 2008 :

It appears that my sister wants her story to remain private at this time. In respect for my sister's wishes, this blog will remain focused on the life-affirming events and people in my healing journey.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Adrian "Baldy" Sudbury passes away

Across oceans and continents, the plight and the courage of Bone Marrow Transplant patients continues. In the UK, a young man who lived his last days dedicated to educating the public and finding other patients a marrow match has passed away. His story was not as known here in the States but his spirit and legacy has changed lives and will likely save the lives of future patients around the world.

Adrian "Baldy" Sudbury's blog chronicles his story.

Here are a few excerpts:

"I can’t beat this leukaemia but I can make a difference, I’m making the most of every breath I have left, I am spending time with some of the most wonderful friends and family anyone could ask to share their lives with; but more importantly I’m going down in style."

"I've led a decent life, seen a lot of the world and been in a job I've enjoyed. As for dying - how can anyone be scared of something that is going to happen to every single one of us?"

"One of the saddest aspects for me is that I hoped Baldy's Blog would shine out as a beacon in the too often tragic world of blood cancers. I honestly thought I had conquered the leukaemia, that I could manage the GvHD, get married and have children. I really wanted that to be the end of this story and show that people can overcome this disease."

"I have one last little mission before I die. I'm determined to try and educate more people about what it is like to be a bone marrow donor. There are still 7,000 people - children and adults in the UK alone - who are waiting to find a match. Without your help they have no hope. At least I was given a chance. The problem is people think it is some horrific procedure and I want to show as many people as possible that it is not like that. Apparently, the Germans have one of the world's best marrow registers. All they do is educate their sixth form students about why it's important to donate blood, bone marrow and how you do it. Why can't we do that here?"

"At this stage I decided the source of the anxiety was a number of factors. Of course the obvious one about a drawn-out death still worries the hell out of me. I explained in the previous post how my friends stepped in. It doesn't sound very cool to have a timetable but we did and it worked really well. Over three days I saw around 32 people. I was so proud of myself because now everyone has had the opportunity to say goodbye properly. I feel like I have said everything too and if I died tomorrow, it would be sad, but there would be no regrets."

Click here to read Adrian "Baldy" Sudbury's blog.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” - Pericles (495-429 B.C.)