I am writing to thank you for giving me a ride to the airport last week, and to tell you "my story" so you know how much I appreciate your service.
I am a college-age kid from Utah who has been treated since 2004 for
Ewing's sarcoma, a childhood bone cancer. Various treatments in Utah have kept me alive and in good spirits while fighting a protracted war. Neither side is giving any ground, so I continue to fight. However, six years is a statistical milestone, and at this point I am more optimistic than ever that I will beat the cancer. The future's looking bright already.
Despite lengthy treatments, I have refused to put life on hold. I have eked my way through college and I am now a senior in Physics at Brigham Young University, accepted with fellowships to graduate programs at UC Davis, U New Mexico, and U Maryland for Fall 2010. In February I married my college sweetheart, a second-grade teacher, who is the reason I'm going to beat the cancer. Though I still fight the cancer, I no longer let it control my life. My wife and I are planning a future ahead of us, and we refuse to doubt I will make a full recovery. We hang on to each other for dear life, because life and each other are the best things we have.
In December 2009 my cancer started gaining ground. My Utah oncologist said that I had exhausted all standard options, but had time to try some experimental therapies. He said my best shot was to fly to MD Anderson for specialty treatment. My first day in Houston, I expected the doctors there to hand me some paperwork and send me back to Utah for treatment. Instead, the doctor recommended I stay in Houston for treatment. He said that traditional therapy in Utah was "bunting," but with the treatment that MD Anderson offered, "this time, we're going for the fence."
Being treated in Houston would be extremely difficult. The treatment was my best hope, but would require three months of therapy in a place far from home. Ordinarily, my wife could quit her job and I could drop out of school, and we could move to Texas for three months. But if she quit her job, she would lose our insurance coverage, and our coverage in Texas was already dubious. Her 27 children in her class would lose their teacher halfway through the year. If I dropped out of school, I could not graduate or accept offers to graduate school. I had worked so very hard to get this close to a diploma, and I did not want to stop just before the finish line. Being apart during this ordeal would deny us the support and care that marriage offers. We could not bring ourselves to move to Houston.
It made the most sense for me to fly to MD Anderson once a week for treatment. But to make this work, a lot of puzzle pieces had to fall into place. The airfare, lodging, and rides back and forth to the airport represented a significant cost, in addition to out-of-network insurance costs we already needed to bear. We and the doctors are optimistic this treatment will work. We are confident all the trouble and expense will be worth the sacrifice.
I hope you can see by now where the Houston Ground Angels have made a difference. They have made an enormous impact on my life, for which I am truly grateful. By donating your afternoons, gas, and kindness, you have spared me the expense and infection danger of public transportation. On top of that, you are making it possible for me to come home to my wife, retain our health insurance, and meet this awesome goal of graduating from college on time. If it weren't for your help, I don't think we would have even considered treatment at MD Anderson, and I would still be "bunting" today. I am grateful that my fellowmen are on call to help out in a time of need. Thank you for making this treatment a success. We're going to beat the cancer, thanks to you.