In the spring of 2019, Robb Gaffney began to struggle when he was climbing mountains or hiking uphill in the beautiful Sierra. After a couple months of increasing symptoms, including bleeding from his gums, lab tests revealed that Robb's blood counts (white cells, red cells and platelets) were dangerously low across the board.
After two hospitalizations and extensive workups with the great folks at Tahoe Forest, UC Davis and MD Anderson Cancer Center, Robb was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow cancer known as Myelodysplastic Syndrome with Blasts. He has a high-risk version which has left him dependent on transfusions of red cells and platelets in order to stay alive.
Robb is currently receiving chemo five days a month to keep those dangerous blast cells in check. Given his severely low white counts, his primary focus is staying infection-free.
Robb now requires a bone marrow transplant. This will take place at MD Anderson in Houston, TX, where he will stay for four months. Essentially, doctors will use chemo and radiation to eliminate Robb's entire immune system – including all his immunizations from childhood. They'll replace his original immune system with that of a healthy person, who will act as the donor. Unfortunately, Robb's brothers were not a match, but he recently received the good news that two other unrelated donors are. After the bone marrow transplant, Robb will need to complete one more year of chemo in Truckee, CA.
As you can imagine, this has all been a huge shock – and it's put a heavy financial burden on the family. Robb is the primary wage-earner. While he's fighting this cancer, he has had to substantially reduce and alter his private practice.
To allow him to recover from the transplant, doctors have recommended a six-month hiatus before Robb can return to work. His son, Noah, is approaching his first year at UC Davis, and it was Robb’s intention to work extra-hard this year to help cover those costs.
Robb and his family are very grateful for the overwhelming amount of love and social support they've received from the community. While Robb and his wife Andrea are reluctant to seek financial support, they have been advised by many who have experienced the immense burden of such a cancer to begin this GoFundMe campaign.
The funds will be channeled towards: - Any potential lifesaving treatments that insurance denies - Medical copays - Bone marrow donor search - Travel expenses (including occasionally flying Noah and Kate to Houston to see their father) - Housing during his stay at MD Anderson
Of course, with the prognosis, this is a highly challenging time for the entire Gaffney family. They very much appreciate all the thoughts, words of encouragement, prayers and well-wishes that have been pouring in. Please know that it all matters!