My day with the Fergus’s

This past Monday, I had the fortunate opportunity to meet with a warm and amazingly strong family in Crystal Lake.

Saved by an American Red Cross Heartland Chapter Hero, Brent Fergus, an 18-year-old Crystal Lake Central Tiger, was diagnosed with leukemia at a very young age. After relapsing three times, his family made the difficult decision to try a stem cell transplant. More than five years after the successful transplant, Brent and his family shared their experience with the Red Cross.

While I heard stories about Brent and his fight with leukemia, it was hard for me at times to fight tears. Too often you hear about one person who struggled with and overcame a disease, but in talking with the Fergus’s, it became so clear that disease and sickness does not effect just one person, but entire families and communities.

Seeking support through his brother’s illness, Brent’s sister found herself participating in an amazing organization called SuperSibs!, an organization that supports the siblings of children with cancer.

What was most meaningful for me, however, was listening to the way Brent and his family talked about their donor and Red Cross Hero, Jeff Wilke of Omaha, Neb. Like he was part of the family, Brent’s mom joked about their awkward first meeting, remembering the thought – “What if they’re weird?” – Then mentioned that Jeff made a surprise visit to Brent’s five-years-in-remission party.

Today, Brent looks to Jeff as his mentor. They keep in touch through the Internet and confide in each other through life’s toughest days. Now connected through blood (and Facebook), Jeff truly is Brent’s hero.

This was the most meaningful part of my Monday. What was yours?

– This post was written by Christine Heim, marketing and communications volunteer.

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