Fighting Blood Cancers in Memory of Brian P. Medford
The Annual Medford Classic
Brian came into this world on Saturday, July 27th 1985 with a head full of red hair. He never had more than an ear infection while growing up until December 5th, 1995. For several weeks before, Brian had complained of joint pain, though it never stopped him from playing and going to school, so it was chalked up to “growing pains”. Unfortunately, this was not the case. After a brief visit to the family doctor and some blood tests, Brian was diagnosed with A.L.L., Acute Lymphocyte Leukemia. At the age of 10 ½, in 5th grade, he started an intense chemotherapy regiment to get into remission. He was not allowed to return to school for one year, which was the time frame that it took to complete the intense part of his treatment. He was home schooled during that time. In January of 1997, now in 6th grade, Brian was finally able to return to school. For 2 ½ more years, Brian would receive “maintenance” chemotherapy to make sure the cancer cells did not return.
Brian excelled in school and graduated in 2003 with High Honors from Shaler Area High School. He then enrolled at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park. After more than eight years from his original diagnosis, Brian’s cancer was just a distant memory, never thinking it could ever possibly return… We were wrong.
In Brian’s freshman year at Penn State, he returned home for the Thanksgiving break feeling extremely run down and very pale. We went to the doctors where they immediately ran blood tests and our worst fears were confirmed; Brian’s Leukemia had returned. Brian would again have to receive intense chemotherapy to get back into remission. He completed the heavy part of his treatment by the spring of 2004 and would again remain on maintenance chemotherapy to keep the cancer at bay. Brian returned to State College in the fall of 2004 to resume his studies. He would come home once a month for his chemotherapy treatments. For the next year, Brian would overcome several obstacles including Pneumonia and Shingles resulting from his low immune system. But during all of the bumps in the road, Brian remained in school with a very good GPA and positive attitude, and he was totally enjoying college life with his friends and his girlfriend.
In October of 2005, Brian was home for a routine chemotherapy treatment when his doctor, out of concern due to a continuous low white blood cell count, decided to test his bone marrow. The results were not what we expected. Brian’s cancer had returned for the third time. The doctors decided Brian’s only hope at this point was a bone marrow transplant.
Brian’s sister, Amanda, was the only possible “related” donor. Siblings have only a 25% chance of matching, at best… it turned out not to be. The National Donor Registry was now Brian’s only chance of finding a compatible donor. It took until late January of 2006 but they finally found one. Brian entered Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on January 31, 2006 to start the prep work for his transplant. This included the strongest chemotherapy that he had ever endured and full body radiation, twice a day, for 4 days. This was all done to kill off any remaining cancer cells that may have been floating around. Unfortunately, it also kills off the good cells too, leaving him very weak and with absolutely no immune system. Brian received his Transplant on Thursday, February 9th, 2006.
Brian was so brave and fought so hard. He started to graft new white blood cells 13 days after his transplant, which being the competitive person he was, he wanted to know if that was a record. The doctors told him it was very good. Unfortunately, from all the years of chemotherapy and the intense radiation he received, his organs were damaged to the point that they would not be able to recover. Brian’s fight ended, due to multiple organ failure on Tuesday, March 14th, 2006 at 6:30pm.
Brian fought so hard to achieve his record of 3-0 (Anyone who knew Brian was very familiar with these statistics). When Brian’s autopsy was completed, there was no cancer to be found anywhere in his body. He did it…
BRIAN - 3
CANCER - 0
...as told by his mother, Jeanne Krachala