In 2013, things changed... Andee was diagnosed with Myelodyplasia (MDS) a bone marrow failure disease and precursor to leukemia. She had never heard of it until ABC's Good Morning America News' Robin Robert’s successful battle with it. The MDS was manageable with treatment consisting of chemotherapy shots for a little over a year, but soon it was apparent she was in need of the only cure, a stem cell transplant. Her brother Art was identified as a sibling matched donor. On June 2, 2014, Andee became a patient at the renowned City of Hope in Duarte, CA outside of Los Angeles. Andee's immune system was obliterated with heavy doses of chemotherapy before the transplant. She then began the uphill battle hoping and waiting for the stem cells transfused to graft onto her bone marrow and start making healthy blood cells. At first, things looked hopeful as her white blood cell count began to increase. She continued to show a slow but consistent improvement for approximately 6 weeks. Then things started to go backwards and she stopped making new white blood cells. On August 22, 2014 Andee was told that during this time of compromised immune system, some 'smoldering' cancer cells began to proliferate and she was diagnosed with leukemia. The leukemia ran rampant and in less than a week, she was gone. Andee passed on August 26, 2014.
She blessed so many with lifelong friendships, many spanning over 30 years. Her memory and warm smile remains in our hearts. To honor our dear friend, who taught us so much about living life with passion, this fund has been established to carry on her legacy and love of the arts.
The money raised will be used to grant scholarships to students from Carlton Oaks Elementary School for art lessons at Art by Larisse in Santee. Each year, teachers will nominate students in grades three through eight, who express that extra love of art as Andee did. Up to four students per year will be selected by committee to receive this scholarship.
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- Darlene Draper
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