UNION — This time last year Kenny Price was looking forward to playing church league softball out at South Hills Complex and checking on the tomatoes he grows on his family’s property behind the fairgrounds. Sure, he had day-to-day vexations like anybody else,
but on the ball field or in his garden, Kenny could escape even the little nuances.
Life was much simpler a year ago. Today Kenny’s opponent is a fierce adversary called MDS.
In late July, he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) which is a group of diseases that affect the bone marrow and blood. Some types of MDS are mild and easily managed, while other types are severe and life-threatening. Mild MDS can grow more severe over time and can also develop into a fast-growing, severe leukemia called acute myelogenous leukemia.
I’ve known Kenny since I was a little girl tagging along with my daddy’s weekend softball tournaments. He would often bring me baseball cards and those commemorative coins that were once popular to collect. When his niece Jennifer and I made an All-Star team during our Dixie Youth days, Kenny was one of the coaches and when we made it to high school softball he was there too, encouraging players, arguing calls, just being Kenny.
I learned that he was sick last summer, at a softball game, of course. He was the coach and designated hitter for Tabernacle Baptist Church, who went on to win the Mens A-League Softball Championship. During the tournament, while talking in the dugout, he told me that he had just found out what was “wrong with him.” Since he didn’t elaborate, I didn’t probe. But when he said he’d call my daddy to let him know, I got the impression that it was serious.
I later heard that Kenny had been diagnosed with MDS. I wasn’t familiar with the term so I using the most convenient method of research available…I googled.
What I found was that about 10,000 to 15,000 people are diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes in the United States each year and that in MDS the bone marrow does not make enough normal blood cells for the body.
While advances are being made in the biology of MDS, which will hopefully allow for more effective therapies in the future, the only treatment that has been shown to alter the natural history of the disease is allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.
In preparation for his transplant, Kenny underwent extensive chemotherapy. First, he received chemo to boost his blood cells and marrow to get him ready for the next phase.
After that, the chemo Kenny received was very different. He had chemo three days a week every six hours for two and a half hours before undergoing 32 hours of uninterrupted chemo which decimated his marrow and immune system.
On Oct. 18, 2012, a successful bone marrow transplant was performed and after spending Thanksgiving in the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Kenny was home for Christmas.
“He was doing fine, weekly visits, no treatments,” said Kenny’s brother Johnny Price. “Then along comes January and he gets hit with a bad cold and pneumonia sets in. We admitted him back to the hospital and he started showing these signs of rejection.”
Because of the pneumonia, Kenny has suffered two collapsed lungs along with other problems such as constant blood loss for four weeks. The most significant of the complications is the graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) that has developed in his abdominal area.
“They pretty much know this is a rejection, but they can’t focus on it until they get all the other things taken care of,” said Johnny. “It’s been overwhelming for him but Kenny is positive he’s going to beat this thing.”
How quickly a person’s world can be turned upside down. How suddenly everything can change. One day Kenny was staring down a pitcher on a softball field and in an instant his opponent has become death. But Kenny is a competitor and he’s determined to win.
The following is a personal note to all friends from Kenny Price.
In October 2012, I underwent a Bone Marrow Transplant at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem, N.C. I was discharged in November 2012 and was home for my recovery when I began experiencing complications. On January 19, 2013 I was readmitted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical due to a series of serious setbacks which has put me into the Intensive Care Unit in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. I have endured numerous tests and procedures which the Medical Staff has determined that the Bone Marrow has shown results of rejection. I am currently being treated for Graft Vs Host in the abdominal area which is the primary focus. However I have had several setbacks such as 2 collapsed lungs, loss of blood constantly for 3 weeks, pneumonia, and numerous other medical issues. I am receiving the greatest care that anyone could ask for. The entire Medical Staff are dedicated to ensure I get back on the road to recovery.
I really have enjoyed knowing that people are rallying and praying for me daily. Please continue to send words of encouragement. I have not worked since October 2, 2012 and would like to ask for help for some of the enormous amount of medical costs associated with my hospitalization.This assistance would help me with co-pays, (2012, 2013), deductibles, family stays, and return visits for food, gas and hotel expenses. This support will be a tremendous help on prior medical costs and will go toward now and future costs.
Please send all cards and support to: Kenny Price 307 Hicks Street Union, S.C. 29379
All mail is secured at the Post Office and is picked up weekly by my niece and my brothers bring it to me every weekend.
Thank you again for all your support and prayers I have received during my illness and I ask that you continue to support and pray for me as I continue my journey through MDS.
Love and Thanks to All.