Luke Dudley hopes to help others as brother Matt continues to battle leukemia
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In the last three years, Ohana has hosted 15 “live print” events that have raised about $20,000 for several different causes, but the one planned for Tuesday, Sept. 25 is personal for owners Luke and Emily Dudley.
“It’s a fundraiser for Be The Match,” Luke Dudley said Monday. “It’s close to my heart because it’s the organization that pairs bone marrow donors with people who need transplants. My brother Matt has used it twice now.”
Matthew Dudley, who grew up in Steamboat Springs, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, in 2013.
What: “Live print” to benefit Be the Match
When: 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25
Where: Townies, 1744 Lincoln Ave.
He had been cancer free for nearly five years after his first bone marrow transplant, but in March, doctors discovered a mass behind his eyes, and the 42-year-old learned the leukemia had returned. He has just undergone a second bone marrow transplant.
“I made it five years essentially, which is the point where they normally say you should be good forever, and it shouldn’t come back,” Matthew said. “But at that time, I was diagnosed with myeloid sarcoma, which is the beginning of an AML relapse outside of your bone marrow.”
The diagnosis meant additional rounds of radiation for the mass behind his eye, another round of chemotherapy for the leukemia and then a combination of total body radiation and chemotherapy for the transplant.
“It looked like it worked,” Matthew said. “My last bone marrow biopsy, which I did about day 26 after the transplant, looked like it was all donor. So it looks like the donor took over my bone marrow, which is good. You can’t really tell if you got it all, which is part of the reason mine came back.”
Matthew’s hope is that a new drug for chemotherapy and the total body radiation will hopefully knock out the cancer. He is then counting on the new cells to destroy all the white blood cells that cause the leukemia. He said the outlook is still hit or miss, and only time will tell if it worked.
He said this bone marrow transplant was harder than his first and required two trips to the intensive care unit as he dealt with diffuse alveolar hemorrhaging, which is bleeding into the lungs.
“That was very rough, and there was a stretch where it didn’t look good at all, but I made it through that,” Matthew said. “Now, I’m trying to get all my strength back with the hope of going home around day 100 to be with my kids again.”
Matthew said one of the hardest parts of his latest battle has been living in Seattle, where he is receiving treatment, while his family, which includes 11-year-old Liam, 8-year-old Finn and his wife, Brooke, is based in Anchorage, Alaska. He is at day 70 and is hoping to get the OK to head home in a month.
Through it all, family and friends have been there for support. Matthew said his wife often makes the three-hour plane flight to see him, and other family members and friends have taken turns staying with him during his recovery because doctors don’t want him to be alone.
Matthew’s dad, longtime Steamboat family doctor Jim Dudley, has been covering for him at the hospital in Anchorage, where Matthew has worked for the past 14 years.
“I’m feeling a lot better now, which has bolstered my spirits,” Matthew said. “The support I have from my parents, my friends and, especially, my wife basically keeps me going.”
Matthew said he’s doing his best to get his strength back, and he tries to get outside whenever he can.
“Staying as active as I can is the one thing that is keeping me mentally focused,” he said.
Matthew said he understands, first hand, how important groups like Be The Match are for families dealing with leukemia.
“Financially, we have been pretty lucky, thanks to our insurance,” Matthew said. “I don’t really need any help, and I would rather see them support Luke and Be The Match.”
Luke said the “live print” event, from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Townies, 1744 Lincoln Ave., is open to the community. T-shirts will start at $25. Anyone who can’t make it to the live event can order T-shirts online at mtnohana.com/community/.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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