Life is Good GREAT. ..And the MOJO is back, baby!
It’s been an amazing 3 weeks since my last post. Sorry for the delay, but as you’ll see, there’s been a LOT going on!
The counts are increasing
Well, not really my blood counts…but, I wanted to say THANK YOU to all those who came out and donated over 60 units of blood and platelets at the Woman’s Center for Wellness drive, and a special thanks to my wonderful wife, Angela who coordinated everything with Our Lady of the Lake. That brings our donor count to over 300 units donated since January. MOJO!
Bone Marrow Biopsy #5
Last blog, I talked about how my counts were down and that I would be going to NIH for the ‘next step.’ That happened this past Tuesday, and of course, I had my fifth bone marrow biopsy. (Read about my previous biopsy experiences here!) This one was a little uncomfortable because I had to do it without sedation. But I gritted my teeth and it was done in about 10 minutes. My butt still hurts a little though…maybe a little Boudreaux’s? The doctors at NIH say there is some positive sign of a slow response (remember that I’m 2 months behind schedule!), so we will wait 1 to 2 months to see my progress and determine next steps for treatment. MOJO!
The Mayor’s Challenge
Two weeks ago, my oncologist Dr. Cataldo told me the mayor of Baton Rouge was going to start an initiative to recruit 250 bone marrow donors in 90 days with Our Lady of the Lake. I told Dr. Cataldo, “250? I can do that in one day!” recalling that we had 47 sign up during my drive back in April. I eagerly offered to be a spokesman for the cause. MOJO!
The next day, our Be the Match representative, Madonna Phillips, asked me to be at the mayor’s press conference on April 12. I said, “I’m happy to be a poster child, but I can’t be there then. I’m scheduled to go to NIH!” But I quickly called my friend Matt Williams, the morning anchor of the top rated morning show on WAFB, and asked if he would like to do a story on me to time with the mayor’s announcement. Without hesitation, he had everything set up and produced an amazing 4-minute video of my story and family here. MOJO! We even had a 6AM watch party at the Brewshack that morning! Wait, who’s that guy in the yellow shirt? (This story keeps getting better!)
MarrowQuest is in town!
That’s Steve Matchett who is doing a 2500 mile bike ride down the Mississippi River to promote bone marrow donor awareness (by the way, he’s 72 years old!) He blogs about his journey at www.marrowquest.org.
No, it’s not GalaxyQuest. But that was a pretty cool movie!
I just found out about Steve a few weeks ago through Jeff Haertling, who just happened to read my blog and sent me an email about Steve. I reached out to Steve to see what I could do to help and then put my network to work! MOJO!
He’s riding for the Hendrick Marrow Program. Yes, the famous race car owner Rick Hendrick, who had leukemia but didn’t need a transplant; yet he created a program with Be the Match to raise money and awareness for bone marrow donation.
Still doesn’t ring a bell? Ever hear of Kasey Kahne? Jeff Gordon? Jimmie Johnson? Dale Earnhardt Jr? They all drive for Mr. Hendrick!
My good friends and neighbors, Cheri & Blaine Efferson offered to pick up Steve in Mississippi, and house and feed him for 3 days so he could make the mayor’s press conference (with thanks to Darrell Ourso!) I was honored to sign his bike, which will be auctioned off after his quest ends. In true, south Louisiana tradition, we had everyone at the Brewshack for a jambalaya dinner and Bone Marinara Bracelet ceremony!! MOJO!
One of the highlights of these past few weeks was my annual research meeting (TRAC) for my company. I had been hoping to attend this event that I started 16 years ago, and made it a goal to attend 7 months ago. We had our meeting in Park City, Utah, and I had to get an extra bag of red blood to survive the elevation. But I made it and had a great time with my awesome wife and friends. MOJO!
One of the best parts of the meeting was when my boss, Ethan Pochman, gave me and my wife shirts that say, “Everyday I fight.” The same shirt that Stuart Scott wore in my last blog post. (Stuart Scott is a sports caster with ESPN battling cancer).
Bone marrow transplant is still my only option for a cure. But without a full match, the risk of complication is too great, so we are waiting and continue to transfuse regularly. Remember the book, A Purpose Driven Life? I read it a few years ago and it helped me to find a purpose for our life and God’s mission. I think I’ve found the purpose of my life and the reason for all of this.
In the past 2 weeks, things have happened so fast and so simultaneously that God has to be behind this. He wants me to promote bone marrow donor awareness. MOJO!
So you can see, there’s lots of MOJO going on here all at once… hundreds of blood donors, hope in my treatment, the mayor’s bone marrow challenge, my story on the news, Steve and MarrowQuest, facilitating my network, southern hospitality, achieving goals, leveraging social media, and finding a purpose for all this.
As I told someone today, my entire experience isn’t necessarily positive or negative, it’s enlightening. And hopefully helping many more people than we’ll ever know. Life is GREAT!