Help Pierre Cappuccino Crush Leukemia

For: Pierre Cappuccino
Seattle, WA
Organizer: Team Pierre
$13,486
of $23,502 goal.
Raised by 84 donors
57% Complete
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The Story

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It all started unexpectedly... Pierre went to the doctor for a mild stomach flu and along with other tests the doctor called for a routine blood draw. The blood counts came back abnormally low for an otherwise perfectly healthy man. After many more tests, visits to specialists, and a bone marrow biopsy, my father received the diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia AML (a rapidly progressing cancer of the blood) and a prognosis of 2 months without treatment. 

Fortunately, it was caught early and he is already undergoing treatment. He will soon finish up his first round of chemotherapy and begin his second. He will also need a Bone Marrow Transplant in the near future. 

Pierre is a Navy Veteran and currently employed with the Civil Service at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA. He is the wonderful father of 4 grown children, the grandfather of 10, and a loving husband. He has a quirky sense of humor, an infectious laugh, and a smile for everyone. Pierre loves living in the Pacific Northwest, hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the region. He is an avid gardener and is missing this aspect of spring, having to be away from home at this time.

Pierre has quite a fight ahead of him, but with all of our help he will make it through victorious. 


Below I will give you details about the disease, the team, the treatment, and end with how your donation will help.


The Disease:

Acute means that this leukemia can grow quickly if not treated, and could be fatal in a few months. Myeloid refers to the type of cell this leukemia affects.

AML is a cancer that starts in the cells that are supposed to mature into different types of white blood cells. AML starts in the bone marrow and causes the bone marrow to create excessive immature myeloid white blood cells. These cells never mature and have no function. They just take up space needed to manufacture good cells, and can simply crowd out the cells that are needed to fight infections and other important functions. These immature cells can sometimes spread and create problems in other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and central nervous system.


The Team:

As you can imagine, my father has a tough road ahead, but he has never been known to back down from a fight. Besides being a scrapper, he has 3 very important things going for him. He has Heidi and his close family, an excellent medical team, and wonderful supportive friends.

His wife Heidi (my bonus Mom) has taken on the role of dealing with all the logistics involved with hospital stays, insurance, and financial concerns. She takes care of problems before they can snowball and makes my Dads comfort a priority. We are truly blessed to have her. He also has three other grown children in the area who have each stepped up to help in one way or another. He has many close friends who have been able to tie up loose ends and provide lots of support.

His medical team is led by Dr. Eli Estey at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Dr. Estey is a world renowned senior physician and at age 74 has more success, experience, and knowledge about curing AML than anyone else in the world. The doctors and nurses who have been helping my dad through this process have been amazing. They are kind, compassionate, and beyond capable. It is comforting to know he is in such good hands. 


The Treatment:

Pierre is nearing the end of his first treatment cycle, which consists of one week of chemotherapy at University of Washington Medical Center followed by three to four weeks of monitored recovery. This was the first of multiple 7-day treatment cycles of chemotherapy at the UW Medical Center in Seattle. Treatment consists of continuous 24/7 infusion of very strong chemotherapy drugs through a port that was surgically placed in his chest (the Hickman line). Following that, since his neutrophil count (a type of white blood cell that are important in fighting off infection) was so low, he developed what is called neutropenic fevers. This resulted in adding three days to his hospital stay. He was discharged from the hospital on his 58th birthday, April 3. They even gave him a special treat that morning, a big bag of caramel - his favorite. In all truth it was actually an IV of platelets, but he's always been a glass half full kind of guy.

His follow-up treatment is being administered by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in South Lake Union. He has many appointments each week for blood draws. The blood test results dictate if he needs an appointment for a platelet transfusion or a red blood cell transfusion. His progress will be checked by bone marrow biopsies throughout this process.

In order to be prepared for immediate treatment of sudden-onset neutropenic fevers, he is required to live within 30 minutes of the SCCA and the UW hospital. This means he cannot go home or go to work and must pay for accommodation and other living expenses in Seattle. Unfortunately, these expenses are not covered by insurance and are quickly increasing. He and Heidi are currently living in a hotel in the South Lake Union area of Seattle. 


How your Donation will Help:
Your generous donations will help cover the accommodation expenses and other related expenses from being away from home that will incur during Pierre's Leukemia treatment. 

It will help ease their financial burden and allow my father to focus on what is vital - crushing this cancer. 

Since his discharge from active duty Navy many years ago, Pierre has worked for several contractors supporting PSNS and IMF, including 23 years for Electric Boat Corporation. He came to the Civil Service only about 7 years ago. This being the case, he has not had sufficient time for his leave balance to accrue to a meaningful level. He will be undergoing cancer treatment for the next five to six months and is unable to work during that time. His civil service friends have donated and are still donating leave to him because his leave has run out. We are very grateful to them for this kind gesture. 

That is all the news we have for now, but know that Pierre is in good spirits, optimistic, and unafraid. He knows he will be fighting for a while, but he also knows that his family, his medical team, and his friends have his back.

Thank you so much your time, your compassion, and your generosity.

Please share this message and help spread the love! 

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on October 4, 2016

Posted on October 4, 2016

Pierre continues to recover from his bone marrow transplant and is making great progress. On his most recent blood tests and bone marrow biopsy, there is 100% donor marrow and 0% leukemia cells. Woohoo! Also, the first 100 days (the transplant was day 0) are coming to an end. This means Pierre is going home! This Wednesday!!
For at least the next year Pierre will still be recovering (it is a slow process) but it will be at home. He will still need to go back to Seattle weekly for testing, monitoring, and adjustments to medication. But, he will now be commuting there from Bremerton. He's going home for good after living in Seattle near the SCCA clinic for the past 6 months.
We could not be happier about this news or more thankful for all of your continued support and well wishes. You all helped Pierre Crush Luekemia and your love and generosity will not be forgotten. Thank you so very much!

Posted on July 11, 2016

Posted on July 11, 2016

Pierre is doing really well after his bone marrow stem cell transplant on July 2. He is very fatigued and his blood counts are quite low, but that is all to be expected at this stage. Heidi is taking very good care of him, as always.  It's a day by day battle, some days better than others, but he is continuing to fight his way to a full recovery. Pierre and Heidi will need to remain in Seattle at the Pete Gross House, located within blocks of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, for another 3 months. Part of the transplant policy is that the patient and caregiver must live within a half-hour of SCCA for 100 days post transplant. This is for monitoring, frequent clinic visits for blood work and medication, and any emergencies that may arise.
With your help, we are more than half-way to our goal of raising $23,502 to pay for accommodation and related expenses for Pierre's prolonged stay in Seattle. 
Thank you for all of your support - together we can Help Pierre Crush Leukemia!!
Please donate if you are able and share this campaign to spread the love. Thanks!

Posted on June 29, 2016

Posted on June 29, 2016

Sorry about the lack of updates recently. It has been a busy time; we will bring you up to date. Pierre's last round (second round) of chemo was a success - meaning he is now technically in remission - meaning he has no leukemia cells in his body - meaning woohoo! It’s great, wonderful, amazing news, and we’ve been enjoying it these past few weeks. He finished the last round of chemo back in May, and it took several weeks for him to recover and get back to feeling relatively normal and having energy. He’s been able to do some of the things he loves - like going for walks, occasionally trying new places to eat, and exploring their new community in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle.
So he is now in remission, but this is not the end of the battle. Pierre has a chromosome abnormality called a 7 q deletion - it happens when there is a missing copy of the genetic information located on the long arm (q) of the seventh chromosome of his stem cells. The stem cells make all the other blood cells, and the abnormality causes them to make abnormal (leukemic) white blood cells. This particular abnormality makes him more likely to relapse with leukemia. To put him on the best possible road to a cure, the team at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance have advised a bone marrow transplant. Treatments so far have been in preparation for a transplant. Step one was to get rid of all signs of leukemia - this was accomplished with the two rounds of chemotherapy, and will be topped off with a full body radiation just before the transplant. Step two is the transplant, and we are now go for launch.

The transplant team at SCCA has been searching and testing possible donors since early May. Pierre’s biological brother was not a perfect match, so they searched the database of the National Marrow Donor Program and found 2 people that match on all 10 of the criteria. These donors were contacted to make sure they were still eligible and willing to donate (they are), and the younger of the two has started the donation process. It is pretty easy on the donors end. They get an injection of a drug that tells the stem cells in their bone marrow to come out into their blood. A couple of days later, a small amount of their blood is collected, and will be immediately flown to Seattle to be infused as soon as possible. For Pierre's procedure, they will not take plugs of actual bone marrow from the donor, the stem cells are enough. The new cells know exactly where to go and what to do - the human body is pretty amazing.

Pierre has undergone a series of tests and examinations over the last several weeks. These included a bone marrow biopsy, a lumbar puncture, many different blood tests, an EKG, a chest x-ray, pulmonary function tests, as well as dental, nutrition, and psychological evaluations. These were all to make sure that he is a viable candidate for transplant, and that he’s healthy and strong enough to withstand the trauma of the transplant (he of course passed with flying colors). There were also a series of classes to prepare him and Heidi for what to expect including possible side effects and complications.

He began the conditioning chemotherapy for transplant regimen this past Saturday. This round of chemo is specific to the transplant, and is effectively killing his bone marrow. He will have daily doses from Saturday through Wednesday. He is doing this chemo on an out-patient basis which is new to us. For the first two rounds of chemo he was hospitalized for the duration of the chemo. For this round he goes into the SCCA clinic every day, and gets the chemo regimen, which will last two to four hours, and then goes home (or back to their home away from home at the Pete Gross house). Thursday is scheduled as a day of rest. Friday July 1st he will first undergo full body radiation, and then Friday night he will be admitted to the hospital. He will receive his infusion of normal, strong, and happy new stem cells from the donor at around 4am on July 2nd (Day 0). The transplant will be administered via an infusion into his Hickman line. He will leave the hospital later that day and return to the apartment for recovery. After transplant, he will have to go into the clinic daily for monitoring, blood tests, and medication adjustments. This out-patient thing is new and bit scary for us, but we know that they wouldn't be advocating this route if they didn't think he could handle it. It is a sign of his health and stamina and how well he’s responded to the previous rounds of chemo that they would even consider this treatment on an out-patient basis. Heidi and Pierre have been trained in what serious symptoms to monitor for at home and are very near the hospital if that is needed.

Heidi will be with him 24/7, and fortunately I work just a few blocks away, and can head over on a moments notice. We are optimistic about the future, and ultimately expect a cure. Most of all, we are prepared for success. One doctor likened the experience of a bone marrow transplant to being in a very serious car accident with tremendous internal damage with not a scratch on the surface, and then a whole lot of slow recovery time. There will be a tremendous amount of healing taking place over the next few months. He needs to recover from the chemo and radiation and allow time for the new stem cells to engraft. Engraft means they establish themselves in his bones and start making new healthy blood cells. Day 100 is the earliest he could go home where he will continue his recovery with visits to the doctor less often - we’ll be counting down.

Thank you so much for your continued support and generosity. We are grateful to have such love and kindness surrounding us and pulling us through. Please keep sending your healing thoughts and sharing the love and Helping Pierre Crush Leukemia!

PS. You can be a bone marrow donor too! It’s super easy, just go to www.bethematch.org and get the kit. All it takes is a cheek swab and your’e on the list and on your way to helping someone like my Dad. It truly is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give.

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