My name is Lisa, and I have the best brother in the world. His name is Joe, and I almost lost him a few months ago.
Joe is in the fight of his life against acute myeloid leukemia, and I want to do everything I can to help him beat this.
In early February, Joe couldn’t shake an upper respiratory infection. He tested negative for COVID multiple times, and after a round of antibiotics didn’t work, he drove himself to urgent care.
Once there, doctors took lung X-rays and, concerned about a dark spot they saw, directed him to the ER for further tests. Little did my brother know that, once at the hospital, he would be admitted, it would take 40 days to get out, and his life—and the lives of those who love him—would change forever.
Joe’s initial CT scan results showed double fungal pneumonia, and his blood work had doctors hinting at leukemia almost immediately. We were nervous but doubtful: He was perfectly healthy and only his 40s. How could he have cancer?
But sadly, he did. Joe was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (or AML) and potentially life-threatening pulmonary complications. For the next 40 days in the hospital, he went through hell, and nearly didn’t make it out alive:
He spiked 103-degree fevers every day (and night). He had blood taken and diagnostic tests run every few hours around the clock. He was fitted for a PICC line to receive a constant stream of antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal meds; chemotherapy; and liquid nutrition. He underwent a bronchoscopy, multiple bone marrow biopsies, X-rays, and CT scans. He had countless blood transfusions. And he developed retinol hemorrhages (bleeds) in the center of both of his eyes that severely impaired his vision; he couldn’t read texts from his friends, check his email, see get-well cards, watch TV, or even recognize the faces of his nurses and doctors. His eyes are still not back to normal.
Joe’s first round of aggressive chemo exacerbated his lung problems, landing him on oxygen, in the ICU, and hours away from intubation and a ventilator that we were told he’d likely never come off of. (One of the worst days of our lives came in March when his entire team of doctors gathered around his bed to tell us he may have no more than 48 hours to live. We sobbed as we scrambled to get his affairs in order.)
But—HE PULLED THROUGH! And to our great relief, Joe celebrated his birthday with us in April.
Now at home—30 pounds lighter, bald, and on his fourth round of chemo—he continues to face this beast. AML is aggressive and can be deadly, and relapses are common. He will face many more rounds of chemo and very likely a stem cell transplant, which carries a great deal of risk and has no guarantee, but may be his best chance at a cure.
As long as my brother is fighting leukemia, he’ll be unable to work, which means at least a year of no income. In only four months, he’s lost over $10,000 to out-of-pocket health insurance, deductibles, copays, medications, and transportation to and from the hospital and chemo clinic—and this doesn’t count all of life’s many expenses, including his mortgage, utilities, food, and cell phone service. Joe is filing for disability, and should there come a point where he is financially able, he intends to pay it forward with a donation to a pediatric cancer hospital.
If you’re able to donate, you’ll be helping my only brother fight for his life with one less thing to worry about. No donation is too small—every dollar counts. If donating isn’t possible for you at this time, we will happily accept prayers, healing vibes, and shares of this campaign.
Thank you with all my heart.