The Fight Against Leukemia And GvHD

My name is Michael Marconi and pictured in this fundraiser is my Father, Leo Marconi. Smiling in his Hawaiian shirt on a nice vacation with his beautiful wife. But, as we all know, a part of our lives includes change; whether it be for the good or for the bad.

To explain to you how quickly changes in life can be presented to you, this is the story of a very bad one...

It was December 3rd, of 2017. My Birthday. The family and I were out for a breakfast they wanted to have for my special day. I remember sitting across from my Father seeing his skin graying and the tired droop expressed on his face became more and more. Now, granted it was a bit chilly in December so that could possibly excuse the condition of which his skin looked. A couple months prior, and up until that day, he noticed himself feeling less and less energized. He noticed he was becoming weak, could no longer run as he once could (he’s a marathon runner), and even had a hard time getting around and doing the things he used to do with ease. A strange rash appeared on his skin thus leading everyone in the family to believe he possibly had shingles. At this point, he understands he should get it checked out so he does. After seeing the doctor, the phone call was made to my Father within 24 hours...

My Mother and Father were sitting down about ready to have some dinner. Phone rings. What my Father is presented with will change his and our families lives forever. “Lee, you have to go to the emergency room right now”, says the doctor. “But doc, my wife and are I are about to sit down and eat dinner, I’m fine, what seems to be the problem?”, questioned my Father. “Well Lee, I have to tell you that you have Leukemia”, with a broken voice stated the doctor. They drop the soup spoon and rush to the local hospital in Flower Mound. Within hours, he needed to be transferred to Baylor Scott and White for much more extensive treatment.

One may not know what to think upon receiving this phone call. Hearing such a thing would put you in instant shock and fear, presumably. We aren’t given a sheet with bullet points that explain to us the step by step process in which this cancer will take over my Father’s body. So, the journey begins. And it’s a rough one.

It all started with much chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Many bags of IV. Many many pills. This went on fighting the cancer itself for a good 4 to 5 months or so. It comes to a point where they are confident that they have wiped out 90% of the cancer but some could still reside in his bone marrow and come back stronger and less treatable, thus recommending a bone marrow transplant (also known as a stem cell transplant). Fair enough. It’s a $1,000,000 procedure and insurance will only cover it for the next year. That’s just about a no brainer, not many patients as the ones being ill themselves would want to take that chance...

So the hospital does tests on my blood and my aunts blood. Turns out his sister is a 100% match. Hooray! You’d think, right? It all sounds lovely. Until you now realize he no longer has Leukemia but something that seems to be just as bad. The doctors never told us that a female donor to a male donor would leave a good chance for another disease, which it did; and this one was damn near just the start of complications. He is now diagnosed with Graft Vs. Host disease. To fully understand it, it will take much research but the gist of it is it is very much so life threatening. Her cells being stronger than his try to go into his body and get along with his preexisting cells. In a perfect world where you hear it’s a 100% match, you’d think this would all be a breeze. Oh no. Her cells attacked the little bit of healthy ones he had remaining, and are currently taking a toll in which they’re pretty much eating him and at his organs from the inside out...

The start of it was very bad. He would pass blood and tissue from his organs and stomach lining upon going to the bathroom. I can’t even fathom wondering how it must feel to know parts of your stomach and tissue are coming out of your body. Poor, poor man. On top of that, comes the stomach cramps in which sometimes were so extreme he would need to be fed through a tube and from a bag because he could not eat any real food. Today, August 19th of 2018, his symptoms are better. He went from being a marathon runner to no longer being able to get up, walk, or stand. But, his stomach has cramped less and he is starting to work on physical therapy and get his nutrition back up. It has been a very rough road with many potholes. Many weeks we’d hear that he is doing great. Followed by the next week of something bad happening further more, and this went back and forth for a while and still is.

As all of this goes on, you watch his life get sucked away from him more and more. Just to a point of holding on by a thread. But, he is still very much so alive and the doctors say all of his organs and vitals are good and properly functioning. That’s one pleasant thing to hear. Funny how Healthcare works though huh? I understand you can’t put a price tag on life, it’s priceless, especially my Fathers. But for every bit of life they took from him, and every little procedure they have done, it was compensated to them in a very generous way from a good insurance company. Now yes, this is the way it works. This stuff and trying to save someone’s life isn’t free. At the same time, it is also not very cheap by any means.

I live away from home, down the street from my parents in an apartment with my lady and cats. I do as much as I can with the little time I have balancing a full time job and taking care of things around two different houses. Not to mention the endless drives back and forth to Dallas. But, you know what? I did what any child should be expected to do. My Mother and Sister have done and continue to do everything you’d expect family to do. Sad thing is, we can only do so much. I’m no rich man either, so it’d be very hard for me to pay out all of my bills and try to help with some of theirs too. In a nutshell, everyone knows medical bills aren’t cheap and they just pile up and up. My Father has to go on Long Term Disability as he can no longer work and do what he has loved doing for 30 years of his life plus. The big beautiful house they have is becoming less and less affordable with PTO running out at his job and him not being able to go back. It hurts me to sit back and watch the ones I love and would do anything to help struggle. So, this is the least I could do, right?

I appreciate everyone’s time in advance for hearing out my story about the Marconi family and the card dealt to us. I’ve got to try to do anything I can to help them. So, I turn to anyone who may come across this for help. Any little bit helps, even $1. I’m not exactly sure the extent of how bad their medical bills are, but I know they’re putting their house and much of their money on the line. If any of you have some extra funds to spare, no matter how small or large, it would greatly be appreciated from the hearts of the Marconi family. It’s bad enough to watch my Father physically suffer. It’s a whole other feeling to watch the most humble man you’ve known start to lose everything he’s worked his whole life for. Please help us.
  • Anonymous 
    • $30 
    • 47 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 48 mos
  • Gerald Goldsmith 
    • $50 
    • 50 mos
  • Michael Goldsmith 
    • $100 
    • 50 mos
  • Sharon Schultz 
    • $100 
    • 50 mos
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Organizer and beneficiary

Michael Marconi 
Lewisville, TX
Colleen Marconi 

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