Caleb is 35 years old and has always been a very health conscious, active person - never ill with more than a bug or the flu. Nonetheless in late October of last year, he abruptly became very sick: vomiting profusely, dehydrated, delirious with an extreme fever. In a matter of days his body hurt all over, and I had to help him do the most simple things like sitting and laying down. Days passed and he wasnt getting any better. I took him to the ER on Halloween night. He got admitted right away and the doctors spent the next few days checking for every virus under the sun, thinking he had something foreign like Malaria. Little did I know what would come next. I was about to confront my biggest fear.
I’ll never forget the day they gave us the heart crushing news. On November 2, Caleb was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) - a life threatening, aggressive form of blood cancer. It begins in the bone marrow and eventually spreads throughout the body. Myself, his family and all our friends were stunned. It just made no sense. But from the beginning, watching Caleb stand tall to this monster kept us all strong.
Considering Caleb is young and otherwise in good health, his chances of full recovery are above average, but treatment is a long, painful and an expensive process. He has to undergo countless rounds of intense chemotherapy along with a bone marrow transplant. During treatment and recovery, his immune system hovers around 5-15% of a healthy person. He’s had to remain practically quarantined in the hospital for months with so many lifestlye restrictions to prevent infections and other potentially fatal complications.
When he was first diagnosed, Caleb had 70% cancer cells in his bone marrow. For the next 8 weeks following his diagnosis, I stayed with him in the hospital as he painfully fought through 2 rounds of induction chemotherapy with relentlss optimism... alway telling me "This is just a detour, baby. I don't HAVE cancer. It's just an temporary guest that'll soon be leaving." The chemo's painful side effects were all consuming, completely wiping out his immune system, and I watched him fight to get it back. He quickly lost 30 pounds, and I watched him fight to eat every day with no appetite. And even though his body was brittle and hurting, I watched him exercise and meditate almost every day to keep his muscles and organs from deteorating and his mind strong. It was vey hard to watch but I couldn't have been prouder and more amazed at his relentless optimism to move forward and stay alive.
Bone Marrow Transplant
Moving forward, Caleb has to undergo more rounds of chemo and radiation to gear up for his bone marrow transplant (BMT). No relatives are matches, so we are still waiting to confirm an unrelated donor - hopefully for an early March transplant date. A BMT basically replaces the cells in Caleb's bone marrow with the cells from a donor's healthy bone marrow. Because of the typically long recovery time, the BMT's overall process takes around 6 months, including at least 100 days of 24hr caregiving onces he's released from the hospital. It's an exhaustive procedure, but vital for him to eventually become cancer free.
How can you help?
This all has unfortunately put a signigicant financial strain on the both of us. The medical treatment is vital for him to survive, but the expenses are stacking up. Caleb has to essentially take a year off from life, unable to work during most of this period. These funds will help us pay for medical, pharmaceutical, transportation, caretaking and general living expenses during the course of this process, so we can focus on his full recovery. No donation is too small. We will keep you updated as Caleb conquers this disease. Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart for all of your support!
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