Many have heard our story but for those of you that haven’t, here is why we relay, why we are so passionate in funding the cure. Ruth and I are both survivors. We have lost our parents, and best friends to this disease. But…
What got us started with Relay For Life is our son David. We were living a charmed life in Houston, TX. Life was great, we had two sons that were all a parent could hope for, they were no angels but they were great kids, football players, honor roll students, and popular with their classmates. At the age of 20, David had been home from Oklahoma State for a year recovering from mono. On April 1, 1999 he developed pneumonia and we took him to the emergency room. The doctor checked him out, gave us a prescription for his coughing and sent us home as we had an appointment with the family doctor the next day. The next morning, the emergency room doctor called and asked us to return as they found something abnormal in his blood. By noon David was diagnosed with leukemia and on chemo by midnight. He went into remission and we went home. We transferred his care to MD Anderson Cancer Center. David sailed through his following consolidation treatments and was back at Oklahoma State that spring. He had worked so hard to get there and totally enjoyed being back. In fact he met the love of his life, Becky, that semester.
That summer as he was preparing to return for the fall semester he had his check up with the doctors and they found he had relapsed so instead of returning to school he prepared for a bone marrow transplant. David was lucky and had around 50 people that matched him perfectly. November comes and the transplant happens, he engrafts quickly and his stay close to the medical center is actually cut short as he recovers ahead of schedule.
August is on its way and David is once again preparing to return to college but he begins to suffer headaches. He has once again relapsed, those little devil leukemia cells hid in his central nervous system. On a side note, he was taking college algebra when he was diagnosed and each time he relapsed. His theory is… college algebra causes cancer! Once again we are preparing for a bone marrow transplant but we just can’t keep him in remission and we run out of chemotherapy drugs so on December 20, 2001, David’s final wish was granted and in an informal ceremony he married his love, Becky, in his ICU room with his younger brother Scott standing in for him and we say our good byes to him, the following day, 1000 days after he began his fight.
This is what keeps us passionate about doing our part in helping to find a cure. We will donate, ask for donations, raise awareness and routinely pester people we see doing things that raise their chance of contracting this devil of a disease. We will walk till we can no longer walk or until we find a cure. We will walk so no more brothers like Scott lose their older brother and women like Becky don’t lose their husbands.
-Ruth & Lee Killman
Check out the amazing work that Lee and Ruth have been doing in their community on the Relay For Life of Yellowstone Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rflyellowstonecounty/timeline