Grit Story: Pam G. from Scotland, South Dakota


Many years ago, we had all grown up John Wayne fans at our fathers side, but none more than my brother Jay! He was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia and was treated for the next 4 years. Through all 3 remissions he was told several times he may not make it at all, and made him twice as determined he would survive! Four years later was the final push to treat his leukemia. I was a 98.5% match for bone marrow for my brother. Jay also decided to sign up for a bunch of experimental testing because he was told they did transplants (10 women and 10 men) daily, and 1 or 2 of each would survive.  Jay decided that like his hero, the Duke, would do whatever it took to help other kids in case he didn’t make it. When he was still in the hospital in Sioux Falls, his hero passed away, but while he was at City of Hope, one of his greatest dreams came true. Nurses told stories of John Wayne and how he used to come and see the patients at City of Hope. After he passed away, his son Patrick stepped into his father’s shoes and started visiting patients. Mr. Wayne came back several times to visit with my brother and when Jay was well enough he went with a small group of patients to John Wayne’s house boat with Patrick, just as he promised. Jay spoke of that many times over the years, how all of the Wayne’s were everything they seemed, honest, caring and full of grit! When Jay got to come home, he decided to change his major in college, because healthcare in South Dakota had been so lacking for so many cancer patients due to not having big city hospitals, he decided to become a health care administrator. I took care of Jay until he passed away. When I found the JWCF website, I found my chance to thank the Wayne family for everything they have done and continue to do for cancer patients and their families from Duarte and City of Hope to where they are now! 

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