Life took an unexpected turn for the Flahertys when Tim was diagnosed with Myelofibrosis in 2004. It’s a rare form of bone marrow cancer that disrupts the body’s normal production of blood cells. It causes extensive scarring in the bone marrow, leading to severe anemia – or the loss of healthy red blood cells. It also causes a patient’s blood clotting cells, known as platelets, to drop. This took a toll on Tim’s body. Still, he remained positive – and fought hard to stay well.
“He was an inspiration. People would say, ‘How you doing, Tim?’ No one really knew because he was still out mowing the lawn and doing things,” Terry said. “For a fireman who was so strong, he went through a lot with this disease.”
There is no cure for Myelofibrosis. Instead, Tim’s treatment focused on symptom relief, which meant lots of bloodwork and weekly transfusions.
“The red blood cell transfusions allowed him to stall the illness from rapidly progressing and let him lead a partially normal life. It gave him a chance to continue going on,” explained Terry.
It gave Tim precious extra time with his family – and, for that, Terry says she is beyond grateful. As Tim’s illness progressed, so did his need for blood. During the last year of his life, Tim was transfusion dependent. Blood that was only available to him thanks to generous, volunteer donors who selflessly rolled up a sleeve so patients, like Tim, could celebrate another birthday or holiday with their families.