Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Be Strong. Fight On! In Memory of Zach Guillot.

On Friday, February 7, 2014 at the age of 9, Zach was granted his angel wings to "fly and love" with another honored hero Aidan "80" who battled the same type of blood cancer.  Even though I did not personally know Zach and his family I have been following their journey for quite some time.  Zach's family is originally from the Dallas area but he has spent the last year in Seattle at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center touching the lives of every person he met!

Zach battled AML for FOUR years and endured THREE bone marrow transplants!  AML is Acute myelogenous leukemia and one of the most aggressive forms of leukemia especially in children.  AML usually is given a 50/50 survival rate.  

His mother Julie said the doctors described him as a "medical marvel" and he "contributed much to the knowledge of how AML can be managed and treated."  He was also regarded by his medical team as one of the "toughest kids they had ever met."

Julie has asked that those who followed Zach's journey share the following "far and wide" and I'm honored to help spread Zach's journey to our friends and family because if this can help one family not lose their child to AML that is enough!  Childhood cancer isn't easy and it isn't friendly...it is BRUTAL and from the mothers I personally know and ones like Julie who I've followed...the stories of what their precious children endured and what they had to witness is beyond comprehension.  My heart breaks for them.

If you'd like to make a difference...here are the items that Zach's mom listed:

1) Donate blood or platelets in Zach's honor.  Zach required bags and bags of blood and platelets to fight an internal bleeding transplant complication.  Visit the Red Cross website or Carter BloodCare for locations near you.

2) Enter the Bone Marrow Registry.  I've posted about this multiple times and the previous post lists a Bone Marrow drive on Friday, February 14 at Children's Medical Center in Dallas.  For other information please visit Be the Match or Delete Blood Cancer.  Both feed into the same database, so if you are registered with one you are technically on both.  If you are interested in hosting a drive at your place of business or church just let me know and I can put you in contact with individuals who can assist you!

3) Donate your baby's cord blood. If you are pregnant you can save a life by simply donating your baby's cord blood (from the umbilical cord). Cord blood donation through Be the Match is SAFE & FREE! Zach's last transplant was a double umbilical cord blood transplant....two unrelated anonymous mothers gave Zach a 3rd chance at life and Julie stated "on the day of his death, his new baby blood cells were proliferating wildly and he had new blood, free of leukemia!"

4) Help the Guillot family directly fund AML immunotherapy at the Fred Hutchinson Research CenterImmunotherapy involves engineering specific white blood cells to RECOGNIZE cancer cells as foreign and DESTORY them, without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, the birthplace of the bone marrow transplant and world experts in the immune system, has developed killer T-cells that can recognize and kill AML…these cells are working right now in a small group of patients who remain in remission. 

Last I want to share a video that was made by someone who doesn't know Zach nor do I know this person but it was shared on Zach's facebook page which I strongly encourage you to visit.  This is a beautiful and inspiring video.  Listen past the young man talking at first...the song has always been one of my favorites and has remained on my race day playlist for the past 3 years...when I need that extra push this song does it...and now every time I hear it I will think of Zach. 

In closing, many still ask how or why we continue our involvement with LLS?!  

This is WHY...because no child should endure 4 years fighting cancer!  And HOW we do it...is by being a part of Team in Training and raising funds for life-saving research.  LLS is funding the immunotherapy that was mentioned before...that is why I've posted the Fire for Fire video so many times to help bring attention to where your donations are going!

So I also ask that in addition to one of the above please consider making a donation to my current Nike DC half marathon event and help us continue to fight for a cure!

(the way Zach's mom signed every facebook post)

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