The family and friends of Michael Tuohy invite the community at large to join them in honoring him by donating blood on Friday, June 13, 2003 at the Prospect Fire House, 26 New Haven Road, Prospect, between the hours of 1:45 PM and 6:45 PM.
Michael is a lifelong Prospect resident who, in October 2000, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer that attacks and destroys the bones. There is no known cure for multiple myeloma.
"I went to a local orthopedic doctor who did an MRI because I had back problems for about a year," Michael said recently. "I got a call the next day and was told I had a tumor. I left work right then and there, and found out two weeks later that it was multiple myeloma."
The tumor turned out to be cancerous, and had already destroyed about two-thirds of his sacrum. Light radiation helped get Michael out of pain. He was sent to a specialist for further treatments, which have included chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, and a variety of medications. He has also received at least one transfusion of platelets, and suffered broken bones just from the movement involved with sneezing or coughing.
"I was out of work for about eight months after the stem cell transplant," he stated. "When you finally do get out of there, you are like the boy in the plastic bubble, because your stem cells are like a baby's. For about three months, I didn't leave the house."
Michael is grateful for the strong support he has received from his wife, Robin. "Robin is great," Michael gushed about his spouse of 13 years. "She stayed with me at the hospital the whole time. I couldn't have gotten through this without her. She's my best friend." Together, they researched this little known disease on the web, and found resources in Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation ( www.multiplemyeloma.org ), and the International Myeloma Foundation ( www.myeloma.org ). It was from the web that they learned that former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro has multiple myeloma, as does local television meteorologist Dr. Mel Goldstein.
"They put a face on the disease. They bring it to the public," Michael stated.
Inspired by these educational resources, Michael and Robin formed Connecticut's first multiple myeloma information group.
"The information group is really about gaining experience and knowledge and updates," Robin noted. "You need to have that information to advocate for yourselves. That support wasn't there for us, but we feel that if we can reach out to other patients, we can let them know they are not alone. We are passionate about this." This passion has led them to visit or plan trips to North Carolina, Los Angeles, Washington, D. C. and Boston to learn more about multiple myeloma, and to take part in a study of post-stem cell transplant recipients.
Yet it is still Prospect that is home, and both Robin and Michael, together with their children, 10-year-old Allison and 5-year-old Michael, are appreciative of all that the citizens of Prospect have done for them as Michael fights for his life.
"I am incredibly grateful to the entire town of Prospect. And the Prospect Lion's Club has been instrumental in taking care of us in our time of need. They are so wonderful. I would do anything to help them," Michael commented. In fact, it was the Lion's Club that asked Michael if it would be possible for him to share his story in support of this blood drive. He was quite willing to help.
"I am flattered to have my name associated with the blood drive. Obviously, if I didn't have the platelets, I don't know what the outcome would have been," Michael commented. "If someone can donate blood, it's a very generous thing to do to help someone in need."
Appointments are now being taken to give blood in honor of Michael Tuohy. If you are 17 or older, weigh 110 pounds or more, are in generally good health and have not given blood in the 56 day period prior to the date of this blood drive, you are probably eligible to donate blood. To make your appointment for this, or any other blood drive in Connecticut, please call 1-800-GIVE LIFE. That's 1-800-448-3543. You may also request an appointment by visiting our website at www.bloodct.org .
All blood collected at this blood drive goes to the community blood supply, maintained by the American Red Cross Blood Services, Connecticut Region, for the benefit of anyone in need of blood or blood products at the state's 31 transfusing hospitals.