New father searches for bone marrow match
One day after his daughter's birth, Greg Grappone learned he'd need to undergo chemotherapy for the second time in his 32-year-old life.
A month later, his young family is hoping to find a bone marrow match among his four sisters to help Grappone beat back cancer again.
Not everyone has a big family to turn to for bone marrow matches, though, which is why the Grappone
family is throwing its support behind a registration drive for the national bone marrow donor registry at NHTI tomorrow.
Grappone, who has been gradually acquiring co-ownership of his family's auto dealerships with one of his sisters, said he'd register if he could.
"I would donate in a heartbeat if I wasn't in this situation," he said. "From my experience, it's a scary time for a lot of people. Knowing there is a resource out there of people who don't question what it means for themselves, but say, 'If I'm a match, I'll give my stem cells,' means a lot. It's helping someone continue living."
Grappone first battled cancer when he was 2 years old and a year ago learned he had cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It's a rare cancer that strikes between four and six people per million worldwide, his wife, Amy, said.
Greg had always been told the chemotherapy he received as a toddler meant he'd never have children. But when he got his diagnosis a year ago, he and Amy pushed up their planned wedding. A few months later, they were surprised but happy to find out she was pregnant.
Baby Briar arrived Sept. 26. While the couple talked with doctors after the delivery, Grappone's cell phone rang. His own doctors called to tell him other treatments weren't working, and he'd need to go through chemotherapy again.
With a stem cell transplant, the prognosis is good. Without one? Well, the couple doesn't think like that. "There's so many different variables, it's hard to say," Amy said.
"I don't try to over-think it," Greg said. "It's a day-to-day thing, otherwise you have 16 options in front of you at once and you second-guess yourself."
When Grappone's family heard about the tomorrow's drive, they thought their well-known name could bring some attention to the event.
It's scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the college's Grappone Center, and anyone 18-55 is eligible to register if their body mass index is under 40 and their weight is above 110 pounds. Registration involves a cheek swab and takes about 10 minutes.
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SpalermoNews.)