Sarah Beth Costello
June 10, 2009
Most people can say they know of at least one person afflicted with cancer. This dreaded disease has been the culprit of thousands of U.S. deaths in recent years. Regardless of age, the battle with cancer is a scary ordeal as the body becomes susceptible to hostile attacks and undergoes brutal chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Patrick Kepley was only four years old when he was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, a type of cancer that begins when white blood cells become malignant and multiply.
For eighteen months, he endured chemotherapy treatments before entering remission. But as is the case with many cancer survivors, Kepley’s cancer returned with ferocity.
At age 13, Kepley was diagnosed with leukemia, a disease that caused the deaths of nearly 53,000 patients in 2008. Kepley was subjected to intense chemo and radiation as the doctors attempted to combat the disease. Finally, two years later, Kepley entered remission.
“What I attribute [this miracle to] is support from the community I grew up with that helped us through the hard times,” said Kepley. Fundraising campaigns, prayers and encouragement from surrounding family and friends helped Kepley and his family endure the difficult years.
THE 2-TIMES STRONG CAMPAIGN
Kepley, now 22, graduated from Elon University in May with a degree in Digital Art and a minor in communications. Kepley is taking advantage of his health and campaigning and working towards a world free of cancer.
In February 2009, Kepley’s 25-year-old brother, Andrew, was asked to participate in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man & Woman of the Year Campaign. Twenty-one individuals in the D.C. area were asked to participate in this ten-week friendly competition to raise money for the society.
Because Kepley has battled cancer twice, Andrew decided to call his campaign “The 2-Times Strong Campaign.”
“My brother is the youngest candidate in this campaign. He’s going against people at the top of pretty big companies,” said Kepley. Unlike his competitors who have lofty and wealthy connections, Andrew decided to take a grass roots approach.
Some of Andrew’s different strategies have included “Happy Hours’ where bars donate a percentage of their profits to the campaign. Andrew also organized a wine tasting at an art gallery in Tysons Corner, Va., on the last weekend in May where they raised over $1600.
Andrew was able to raise $35,000 during the allotted time for the campaign from April 1 to June 13. “It’s a campaign of many, and I think together there’s a lot of money going towards research and finding a cure [for cancer],” said Kepley.
Kepley is not one to sit on the fence. He remembers his battle with cancer and continues to struggle with a body that was worn down from chemo and radiation treatments.
“Cancer survivors have a lot of after-affects,” said Kepley. “I have the liver of an alcoholic and old person’s bones.”
Though Kepley says he looks “like a pretty normal kid,” he struggles with activities and recreation due to shot knees and weak bone structure. Though athletic as a child, Kepley was forced to “switch gears” when he relapsed because activities that were once easier are not possible anymore.
In the face of difficulty, Kepley remains strong and continues to be optimistic about his future. “Don’t give up. Anything really is possible,” said Kepley.