Platelets For Phoebe

“06880” reader Amy Scarella writes:

There is an amazing 13-year-old friend here in Westport. Phoebe is battling leukemia, and is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant next week. That’s great news. Her only sibling, Hallie, beat the 1-in-4 odds of being a match, and is courageously giving her sister another chance at life. Hallie is 12. Though the girls are very different, they are incredibly close. Both attend Bedford Middle School.

When Phoebe learned she had  bone cancer of the leg 2 years ago — on her mom Ellen’s birthday — the town of Westport rallied around the Spear family to help in any way possible.Through Caringbridge.org Phoebe developed a world-wide fan base. She made connections with other kids with cancer all over the country, as well as on the pediatric oncology floor at Sloan-Kettering.

When Phoebe went for her 2-year check up in April, everyone noted how great she looked and how happy she was. After chemo, 2 surgeries, 2 attempts at physical therapy and all of the side effects, Phoebe was on her way back to normal (as normal as can be when you have a lung screening each month).

But as Phoebe and Ellen pulled off Exit 18, a doctor asked them to return.  On Monday morning they found out Phoebe had secondary cancer — this time in her blood. It is very rare in people under 70.

Phoebe (left) and Hallie Spear.

Phoebe (left) and Hallie Spear.

Phoebe spent her 14th birthday the other day receiving chemo, fighting off nausea and sleepiness. She’ll receive her bone marrow next week. Her hair is once again gone.

Phoebe is extremely intelligent. She knows how to read her monitor, and understands the terminology used for her condition. She doesn’t complain. She is more concerned about why cancer exists, and would rather discuss her experience from an academic perspective than an emotional one.

This trying time has been made more difficult because Phoebe is not producing platelets. She receives them intravenously, for 5 hours a day. These platelets come from donations made at Sloan by friends, family and perfect strangers. Donors must have a decent iron count,and cannot be pregnant. Any blood type works, and anything Phoebe does not use will go to another patient.

A bone marrow transplant requires a lot of platelets. So I ask anyone who is able to consider donating (she will need platelets for a month). I did it a few weeks ago and am going back Thursday afternoon (I’m happy to drive in with anyone interested). They even have free cookies! 

Thank you for reading this. Please forward it to anyone who might step up. The Spear family is so grateful. Phoebe sent me an e-card thanking me for my donation. No child should ever write that note.

10 responses to “Platelets For Phoebe

  1. Cheryl Buck

    Is it possible to donate platelets at the Red Cross in Westport in her name or is it necessary to go into NYC?

  2. Armelle Daniels

    Hi Dan, the link for requirements doesn’t work for me. Not sure if it is a Safari thing or not, but we would like to help, so could you please either fix the link or send it to me in an email? FYI, the other links work, just that one doesn’t work in my email. On the website, it works but sends me to a 2009 post. Thanks.

  3. Bobbie Herman

    Dan — is there any upper age limit?

  4. I would be honored to help. Please contact me via e-mail and hopefully we can set something up soon. I would appreciate it if I could ride in with someone, too.

  5. Amy Scarella

    Blood and platelets can only be donated AT Sloan on 67th and York (upper east side). The website for requirements is http://www.mskcc.org/giving/blood
    Thanks so much for helping!

  6. Would be happy to donate but would want to ride into NY with someone. Can we get a group ride?

  7. Agreed, Sue. Maybe we can get someone who is willing to drive and is familiar with how to get to MSKCC, and then we can all meet somewhere to head in together?

  8. Amy Scarella

    That’s so great ladies! It’s a really easy drive and the Sloan garage offers free parking up to 4 hours. Joe (coordinator) will answer all questions when you call to make an appointment.

  9. Liane Roseman

    It’s heartwarming to read all the supportive comments from people who are planning to donate. I’d just like to add that my husband was at Sloan for a stem cell transplant a couple years ago and needed a great deal of both blood and platelets. When he received some that had been donated specifically for him there was always a big pink tag on the bag signifying that. I can’t tell you how incredible that always felt – like there was extra love keeping us company while he was in isolation!

  10. Denise Ewing

    Phoebe’s little sister Hallie is a friend of my son’s. I’m hoping to organize a followup trip for platelet donation this week (maybe Thursday?). Would anyone like to ride in with me?