A little over a year ago, in May 2016, Damion was diagnosed with Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). AML is a cancer that occurs in your blood and in the marrow of your bones. Marrow is a sponge-like material inside your bones that produces blood cells. This means that Damion has bone marrow that makes abnormal myeloblasts (a type of white blood cell), red blood cells, and/or platelets. This type of cancer usually gets worse quickly, if it is not treated.
After his diagnosis, Damion was hospitalized for two months where he received two consecutive rounds of intensive chemotherapy treatments prior to being released from the hospital in late June 2016. Damion and his loved ones wanted to believe that his initial treatments were sufficient and that he’d be able to bounce back to his pre-diagnosis condition. Damion really worked effortlessly to regain his strength so that he could return to work and provide for himself and his family. He was really feeling good and looking even better. However, in February 2017, his health started to decline and he fell ill again, which lead to an inevitable hospitalization. This is where he learned that his cancer had reemerged, full force, which meant that his previous treatment episode was ineffective. However, this treatment consisted of another harsh round of intensive chemotherapy and hopes for the best.
By late March 2017, the treating doctor disclosed that Damion’s cancer was determined to be unresponsive to the hospital’s very best treatment efforts. The treatment team indicated that not all hope was lost as there were still a few options to consider. It was at that time that he was referred to the National Institute of Health (NIH) to partake in a clinical trial that combined both chemotherapy and immunotherapy to see if his cancer could be cured. Damion graciously accepted the referral and was eager to participate in the clinical trial. He was transferred bed-to-bed from the hospital to NIH. Damion and his loved ones had high hopes for this treatment, but the reality is that Damion’s health has not yet improved. Recently Damion was notified that his white blood cells are increasing which means that the clinical trial is not working, thus he will be discharged from NIH and referred for some other form of treatment. The fear is that his cancer is pretty close to becoming uncontrollable. This means that Damion has no time to spare and must act fast!
It has been an uphill battle for Damion and it’s extremely difficult to witness. He has lost 40+ lbs, his hair, taste buds; he has been a high-fall risk because of all the chemotherapy given; and he has had multiple reoccurring infections. The leukemia and treatments have significantly weakened his immune system, resulting in neutropenia. In other words, unlike healthy individuals, he has no immune defenses, and needs to stay away from public areas and wear a mask when outside of a sterile environment. It goes without saying that Damion’s life has changed drastically. Although at times he has found himself struggling to regulate his emotions and to maintain a positive outlook on his life, he is refusing to give up and is remaining a warrior. Damion is willing to go to any extent to try to find a cure. He has two beautiful loving daughters, family, friends, and other loved ones that keep him motivated in this fight for his life. Anyone who knows Damion knows just how optimistic and light-spirited he is; his smile is contagious. He is full of ambitious goals and dreams. Damion brings life to those around him, so let’s try to bring life back to him!
He currently has over $350k and counting, in medical bills from a total of 3-4 months of hospitalization at INOVA. While services at NIH were cost free, he now has to look into private care which will be costly because his current insurance does not provide good coverage, nor can he afford the premium of quality insurance. The first goal is try to get his cancer into remission, at that point he will try to see if he can get a bone marrow transplant.
Funds collected will be used to get other opinions, for medication that will attempt to slow the growth of his leukemia and towards future expenses that he will have to incur as he tries to figure out where to go next to try to find a cure. But he simply cannot do this by himself and needs help from his community.
We appreciate ANY, and we mean any amount that you are able to donate to help him in his battle against cancer. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers and help us spread the word!
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