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Lee's Story

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Founder & President
Marrow Power

When I received the dire diagnosis of leukemia in August of 1995, I realized that not only was I mortal, but my mortality was suddenly quite finite. At 34 years of age, you donít normally think of your future in terms of just two or three years. That was only if the medicines could control the prolific overproduction of useless white blood cells in my bone marrow. I needed a bone marrow transplant, and I needed it soon.

Time: The days and months until a marrow donor was found for me dragged onóan agony of waiting. But time took on another dimension as well. Each day became a gift, a blessing, a treasure to be cherished without reservation.

I think of a bone marrow transplant not as a miracle of modern medicine but as a miracle from God. The transplant itself is like a blood transfusion. Except that in this case, the IV bag contains fluid bone marrow from a donor whose marrow is genetically similar (preferably identical) to the patientís own marrow. There is no operation. The transfusion occurs right at your bedside.

To prepare for the transplant, you undergo a process called conditioning. This is the most difficult part. To accept the new marrow, the doctors must virtually destroy your own marrow, meaning they obliterate your ability to fight infection. For me, that amounted to two days of intensive, continuous chemotherapy, followed by four days of lethal radiation, three times a day. Often, I recall the Book of Genesis, in which God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. My bone marrow was destroyed in six days and on the seventh day, my life was given back to me.

All the medicine in the world wonít save you if you donít have a genetically compatible, living marrow donor, and this is where the miracle lies. Being a marrow donor is easy and relatively painless. but it requires an act of moral courage. Donors save lives. A donor saved mine. Her name is Cheryl Wrigley, and Iíll always be grateful to her.

Strange as this may sound, I found that cancer can be inspirational. Cancer is not an end, but a beginning. A new way to look at life. The rat race is no longer important. Family and friends are the only things that matter. Time becomes a precious commodity, not to be wasted. Time for reflection and self-improvement. And to help others in need. Whenever someone newly diagnosed with leukemia wants to talk to me, I always make the time.

About Lee March Grayson,  Marrow Powerís Founder and President: Lee March Grayson, is a survivor of leukemia who underwent a bone marrow transplant in 1996. Grayson and his family encountered the full range of challenges a serious illness throws one’s way and successfully negotiated a myriad of difficulties with doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, employers and others during Lee’s prolonged illness and recovery. An attorney and criminal justice professor, Lee brings empathy, understanding, sensitivity, passion and compassion to this cause.

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