Cloverdale man waging battle with leukemia
A local Putnam County man was in the fight for his life, a battle he almost lost at one point, but now he can see greener pastures on the horizon.
On Feb. 27, J.R. Frazier, a rural Cloverdale resident, went to the doctor because he had a persistent dry cough and unexplained bruising.
"I woke up one day with a black eye and had no idea what had happened," J.R. said.
In weeks prior to Feb. 27, the doctors had told him it was double pneumonia -- he would soon find out otherwise.
"When I went to the doctor that day, they sent me directly to the hospital to begin treatment," J.R. said. "I was only given 10 days to live if I had not gone to the doctor."
J.R. was taken to Methodist in Indianapolis where, after bone marrow and blood test, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Web site (www.lls.org), AML is a type of blood cancer that forms when the marrow begins to produce myeloma cells instead of plasma cells.
Normal plasma cells make antibodies, which help fight infection. Myeloma cells cannot help the body fight infection. As the myeloma cells grow in the marrow they crowd out the normal plasma cells. They also crowd out normal white cells, red cells and platelets.
After only seven days of chemotherapy, J.R. was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Methodist following his lungs, kidneys and heart all failing.
"I don't remember much. I just know that one day I crashed and everything went black," J.R. said.
J.R. would spend a week and a half in ICU, but he wasn't alone. His wife, Donna, was at the hospital the whole time.
"They told me there was a good chance he would not survive," Donna said. "He heart was only pumping at 20-percent and he was on constant dialysis and receiving blood transfusions."
J.R. fought though. When he recovered from the infection that was likely brought on by the chemo regimen, the doctors at Methodist called him a miracle patient.
"They really didn't expect him to recover," Donna said.
However, that was not the end of troubles for J.R. during his initial visit to the hospital.
Following his first blood transfusion, they realized something was horribly wrong.
"His eyes were swollen almost shut, he had fish lips and swelled up like a balloon," Donna said.
It turns out that J.R.'s body rejects all feminine blood. The masculine blood also must be filtered before he can take a transfusion.
"The doctors said they had never had a case of this," J.R. said.
Once the problem was pinpointed, they began to give him the proper treatment and he was released after five-and-a-half weeks.
Now, J.R. gets to enjoy being home with his wife and three children, but also must continue to make trips to Indianapolis.
He is in the hospital for a week, then home for three while he is receiving his consolidation chemo treatments. He only has one of these left to go.
J.R. is on short-term disability from Quemetco, Inc. in Indianapolis where he was only employed for six months before his diagnosis in February.
"They've been awesome," Donna said. "They have been very understanding and supportive even though he was there for such a short time before this all happened."
There are two benefits coming up to help support J.R. On July 12, O'Reilly Car Parts will be sponsoring a car wash between noon and 3 in their parking lot across from Taco Bell in Greencastle. The carwash will be free but donations are accepted. All proceeds will go towards J.R.'s medical bills.
The second benefit is on July 20 between 12:30 and 5 p.m. at the Moose Lodge in Greencastle. At this benefit, there will be food, a raffle, kids entertainment and the band Crossfire will play. This dinner is being coordinated by family friend Betty James. It is possible that J.R.'s last treatment will begin the following day.
"We just really want to say thank you to all our family and friends who have been so supportive and helpful," Donna and J.R. said.
Once J.R. is in remission, they will keep an eye on his progress for five-years with regular doctor visits. According to what J.R. was told from his doctors, once most patients with AML go into remission they never had a recurrence.