Child continues cancer battle
By TERRI D. REEVES
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001
PALM HARBOR -- The last time a blood drive and bone marrow screening was held on behalf of 9-year-old leukemia patient Jordan Holzmacher, about 50 people weren't able to participate because the wait was too long.
The line of donors began forming at 7:30 a.m. and didn't end until 7 p.m., when it was time for the bloodmobile to leave.
"It was a very strong turnout," said Barbara Glass, territory manager for Florida Blood Services. "We didn't expect that many people. In many instances, the public is apathetic until someone they know is involved. Jordan's family is well-known in the Palm Harbor area."
The drive, held last December at Highland Lakes Elementary School, resulted in 125 people getting tested as potential bone marrow donors and 100 people donating blood.
Saturday, friends of Jordan's family have organized a second blood drive and a walk-a-thon and are anticipating another big response. The walk-a-thon will benefit Jordan and the St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation for Pediatric Oncology.
Last November, after becoming ill, Jordan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The family has a $5,000 annual deductible and the insurance company is refusing to pay for some of the treatments, calling them experimental.
"We wanted to help defray some of Jordan's medical expenses and also help with the research to fight leukemia," said Sue Hamill, one of the organizers.
The event will be at Palm Harbor Middle School, 1800 Tampa Road, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Registration is at 8:30 a.m.; the walk begins at 9 a.m. There will be a silent auction for signed sports memorabilia, tickets to area sporting events, and framed art. Face and nail painting will be part of the event, as will a raffle for restaurant gift certificates, a YMCA membership and gift baskets.
Florida Blood Services will be on site with two bloodmobiles this time. Free bone marrow screening tests will be offered.
Before Jordan was diagnosed with cancer, the third-grader was active in soccer and was a black belt candidate in tae kwon do. During a soccer match, he began to have chest pains. Over the next few days, his body swelled and he gained 8 pounds. Dr. Cameron Tebbi, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist at Tampa's Children's Hospital at St. Joseph's, diagnosed Jordan's condition.
His cancer is in remission, but he will continue to receive weekly chemotherapy treatments for two years. Currently, he is undergoing radiation to his brain to prevent the cancer from spreading there. His weight has dropped from 62 to 55 pounds. Because his white blood cell count is so low, any exposure to viruses could be fatal, so he remains homebound. His friends from Highland Lakes Elementary send him cards and videos and call him on the phone.
Jordan says the worst part of his illness is not the nausea or needles.
"I miss my friends," he said. "That to me is not much fun."
Donations can be sent to the Jordan H. Donation Account, c/o Marie Shapiro, Madison Bank, 35388 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684. Call Sue Hamill at (727) 785-3445 for information.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
North Pinellas desks