Why I PMC - Mike Spellman

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

Why I PMC - Mike Spellman

Guest blog by Mike Spellman

In a phrase: It's time to give back

This year marks the 25th anniversary of my daughter's life saving treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. When Rachel was 2 years old she was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia known as Myelodysplasia. It is an extremely rare, life threatening disease, especially in a child so young. Her prognosis was grim. At the time, we were young parents with two other daughters. Samantha, a newly born but premature infant who had her own challenges and Allyson, our 6 year old. The odds were stacked against Rachel. Our only hope for a cure was a Bone Marrow Transplant. Although we sought consultation at several different hospitals, we were scared and unsure what to do.  Then we went to Dana-Farber. They didn’t sugarcoat the realities and despite the dangers that lay ahead, they approached treatment with one thing in mind: Kids get better.

Thankfully, a blessing came our way when we found out that Rachel’s big sister Allyson, despite only a 1 in 4 chance, was a perfect match to be Rachel’s Bone Marrow donor. And so began our journey. It hasn’t been easy. The Bone Marrow Transplant was a grueling regimen and Rachel had many complications and close calls over the years but she is a fighter of an indomitable spirit.  

We will forever be grateful to DFCI and all its staff who have been and continue to be by Rachel’s side and helped her become, in defiance of all her challenges and obstacles, the amazing young woman that she is today. 

Fast forward to 2012. The woman I love and about to marry is diagnosed with Breast Cancer.   Fiona, a 48 year old Oncology Nurse Practitioner who has been caring for Cancer patients her entire career, is now the patient and Cancer is once again on our doorstep.  On the afternoon before she was to initiate chemotherapy in CT, Fiona attended a consultation with Dr. Eric Winer director of the Breast Oncology Center at Dana-Farber.  His warmth, kindness, and expertise was the best medicine of all.  He put our minds at ease that the course of treatment prescribed to her was the optimal choice for recovery. And now, here we are three years later, happily married and Cancer free. Thankful again to Dana-Farber and the role they played.

Fiona and I took up cycling about 10 years ago for the recreation and health benefits. We’ve cycled all over New England, in Utah, California, and even made cycling a big part of our honeymoon in France where we went on bike trip in Provence. Those were all great trips but participating in the Pan-Mass Challenge for the first time, is bigger than all those combined as it gives us a chance to help those who have helped us and to contribute, in a very real way, to the fight against Cancer.

We’re also proud to be part of Team Fear Nothing, a group from our community consisting of DFCI supporters and Cancer survivors. Last year the team raised over $51,000!!