About Tartan Trailblazers
The Tartan Trailblazers is an organization formed in honor of Brian White, whom our family lost in 2015 due to complications from aplastic anemia. Brian along with his wife Mary, of 40 years, together, raised two children, Courtney & Mallory in the greater Detroit metro area. It was there, in November 2014, where it all began. Just as most American families were settling in for a joyous Thanksgiving holiday, our family was on the fast track to a 5-month journey filled with uncertainty, heartache and devastation that would change our lives forever.
Brian was a recent retiree in 2014 and just as he was getting comfortable with that lifestyle and looking forward to more time with friends and family, life threw him an insurmountable curveball that no one was ready for. It started with a little dizziness and weakness and quickly lead to petechiae, what looked like a deep red/purple-colored rash on his lower legs. After some blood tests confirmed it was not Leukemia, we all felt a sense of relief, but that relief was short-lived. A bone marrow biopsy revealed the diagnosis, severe aplastic anemia.
Aplastic anemia is not like the more common anemia that affects just your red blood cells and can be treated with nutrition or supplements. Aplastic anemia affects all 3 blood cells that are vital to your blood, body and life. It is extremely rare. There is no steadfast known cause and although there are treatments, there is no known cure.
At the time of diagnosis, our family had no idea how truly devastating and horrific this illness is, nor any true sense of the anguish and agony that lie ahead. Unknowing, yet determined, we as a family were set to journey together and were committed to doing whatever we could to support my father and each other through this uncharted territory.
The disease ravaged us to our core. For 5 months it wreaked havoc on my father’s body. With the initial treatment of immunosuppressive therapy, it left his immune system susceptible to every germ and bacteria imaginable, affected his blood pressure, his kidney function, his ability to breath, his ability to walk and so much more. For 5 months our family took up residence at the hospital 24/7 with only a very few intermittent days at home. We had small triumphs here and there, rising blood counts one day only to fall a few days later or defeating one infection only to be presented with another. It took an unimaginable toll.
People ask if a bone marrow transplant could have helped and the short answer is yes, it could. The truth is that a transplant offers a chance for remission, but is no guarantee for remission. Even to entertain the possibility of a transplant, his body would have had to be healthy “enough” and free from any infections to attempt the procedure. This is, of course, secondary to finding a suitable donor, which we had not yet found.
After 5 months, my father chose not to pursue invasive treatments such as dialysis, which, at the time, is what was needed to continue to fight the disease. Although we would like to believe my father is now free from the torments of this disease and in a better place, we are riveted by the immense loss and extreme void we now have.
To honor my father, a Scottish born citizen, our family formed the Tartan Trailblazers and have partnered with the National AAMDS Foundation to help create awareness and raise funds to find a cure for aplastic anemia and bone marrow failure disease. No one deserves to go through such a disease and our hope is that soon, no one will.
Courtney, Mary & Mallory
MARCH FOR MARROW
Detroit 5K Walk/Fun Run
to Cure Aplastic Anemia & Bone Marrow Failure Disease
2021 Date TBD
Please Join us!
For Brian and the cure, our family is personally participating in the the annual walk. We invite you to join us in supporting patients, families and friends; putting an end to bone marrow failure diseases by registering to walk/run or by making a donation today.
A contribution of any kind or size can make a difference.
We thank you for any difference you decide to make!