This was quite a shock for Brian and his new wife, Renee, who have been married a little over three months! Brian also just started a new job as a help desk technician for Learn on Demand Systems (LODS) working from home in November.
What makes Brian's story unique is that this is not his first encounter with leukemia. When Brian was 17 years old, one of his best friends, Kathleen, was struck with leukemia. While she was receiving treatment she lost her hair, so Brian, her brother (Luke), and friend (Jacqui) shaved their heads to show their support. (Brian is pictured second from right.)
Kathleen was treated at MD Anderson and received a stem cell transplant in Houston. Brian ran away from home, while grounded and skipping school, in order see her during that trying time. This didn't go over so well, as he also got a $300 speeding ticket on the way, but he was forgiven by his parents shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, Kathleen passed away a few months later. This was a devastating blow for her friends and family. There was a huge outpouring from the Bartlesville, OK, community. Teachers and counselors at the Bartlesville High School (and Mid-High) were also there to support students who were affected by her death.
As time went on, Brian made a huge decision; he would find a way to give back. He registered on DKMS - a nonprofit organization that helps match people with leukemia that need white bloodcell and bone marrow transplants to donors. He was found to be a match after only a year of being registered and began the process of donating. He flew out to Denver with his father and donated his bone marrow following a few months of prep work for himself and the patient. After several positive updates over the next year the person who received Brian's bone marrow made contact with him. It has now been nearly five years since Michelle has received the bone marrow transplant and they communicate frequently! (see Michelle below)
Brian and Renee were just starting their married lives together when this happened. All immediate family live out of town or out of state. So, Brian and Renee are depending on Renee's salary to sustain them. If she takes FMLA it would be without pay. Renee does not drive so she is using Uber to get her from Oklahoma City back to the town where she works. Thankfully Brian does have some short and long term disability insurance, though it will be at a reduced pay.
Brian and Renee at their wedding.....
As of now, the Stephenson Cancer Center is working with them to set up a treatment plan. Brian will have to stay in the hospital at least four to six weeks until he reaches remission. We do not know how far the cancer has spread yet. Whether Brian will be needing a bone marrow transplant is unknown at this time as well.
We are setting up this fundraising effort to help offset any medical expenses that insurance does not cover. Also, this will help with transportation costs for Renee to go to/from the hospital and to supplement any loss of income that Brian may incur.
Dear friends and family, we truly appreciate anything you feel you are able to contribute. We appreciate your prayers, thoughts and words of encouragement and hope. The outpouring of love that we have already received has been amazing! Thank you so much for your love and support!