It's taken me a week to be able to write about this. On July 2nd, a man I never met and very minimally communicated with died of complications due to a double-cord transplant he had almost a year ago.
The first time I heard about Graham and his battle with leukemia was reading a post his wife Sam had written on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Discussion Boards asking for input and advice. Graham and Sam live in Australia, and felt they'd exhausted treatment options there. Sam sent me several emails, and as a fellow double-cord transplantee, I shared whatever I knew about the procedure, the recovery and the emotional stress of the whole process.
Graham, who was 44, traveled to the U.S. to have his transplant at the Fred Hutchinson Center in Seattle, WA. To pay for the transplant, the family started a massive fundraising campaign. This campaign continues and can be found here.
I have been following Graham's story closely since the Spring of 2008. I remember running in the CVS-Providence 5k last September thinking about him and his struggles, gaining strength and inspiration from his determination to beat this brutal disease (and he did beat it, dying disease-free). I've often thought to myself, compared to Graham, I have skirmished; he has truly battled.
Though we never met face to face, I've walked in Graham's shoes and he's walked in mine. This may seem like an odd bond, but it's a very real one. With of the loss of Graham, I lost something, too.
Today is Graham's memorial service. You can be sure I'll be thinking about Sam, his two young children, friends and loved ones. I wish them solace, great memories and a maelstrom of love. I'm feeling sad, but I continue to be inspired by this man I came to know through his amazing story.
Walk on, Graham, peacefully, hearing the tunes you love.