WESTFIELD, NJ — Darren Lederman, a Westfield father of two who received a bone marrow transplant thanks to a stranger in May, learned this week his cancer has returned and he will need another transplant. A drive has been set up at the JCC of Central NJ on Sunday, Jan. 31, from noon. to 3 p.m., to help find a match.
“It is with the saddest, most scared, defeated and broken heart that I write this update,” Darren’s wife, Stacey Katcher Lederman, wrote in the Lederman Strong Facebook group, which has swelled to nearly 900 members. “After almost one year since diagnosis, we found out this week that Darren has leukemia again and is in need of another bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, the first transplant was ineffective. A bone marrow is supposed to accomplish three things in a person's body and Darren's has done none, except make him very, very ill. In the end, Darren's feisty cells won. So now we start from scratch, except this time, Darren is going into the whole process extremely weak, defeated and ill.”
The JCC is located at 1391 Martine Avenue, Scotch Plains. Candidates for testing must be between 18 - 55 years of age and in good overall health. The test to find out if you are a match is quick and painless. To learn more about what is involved in donation, visit www.deletebloodcancer.org.
“The more people that get swabbed, the more chance there is to find Darren's life-saving match,” family friend Jaime La Rosa said. “It will only take one minute to swab.”
A YouCaring.com site has been set up to help the Ledermans pay their bills. So far more than $56,000 has been raised.
“Throughout the last year, I've seen and learned the true meaning of friendship,” Stacey Lederman wrote. “In our day-to-day lives that are so very busy, so many of you have found the time to lighten our load and bring much needed smiles. You've sent meals, visited Darren, found ways to drag me out of the house for some much needed girl time and put smiles on Emma's and Noah's faces. After Darren received his first gift of life from an anonymous donor, you never walked away. You stood by my side as he battled and continues to battle life-threatening complications from GVHD and many other scary and serious problems. I have learned (and I am trying) how to be selfless by asking for help and leaning on people,.some were strangers who are now friends with huge hearts.
“I wish that I could thank each and every one of you properly. You know who are you and we appreciate and love you with all our hearts.
“I've learned that while Facebook has been amazing and surreal for making Darren's story public and has brought more support than we ever imagined and a community together, it can also be a sad and devastating daily reminder of what Darren and my family are missing out on. As I told a nurse tonight, I just want Darren to be able to live pain-free and to enjoy his children. I know that he can't throw a football with our son or perform a choreographed dance with our daughter in the near future, but he sure as hell deserves to soon!!
“For those of you who didn't get swabbed last time, please, please remember that since cancer does not discriminate you never know if you'll be on the receiving end. Please take a minute and think, what if this was someone you loved, your sibling, your aunt or uncle, your parent, or the hardest of all, your husband and the father of your young, beautiful, innocent children. The procedure for donating bone marrow is so very simple now. A few minutes out of your life gives someone a full life, literally. So please get swabbed. Please, please share our story as many different ways as you can so that others will also get swabbed to save not only Darren's life, but everyone else who is in need of a transplant and deserves their right to live! The minutes out of your day can give a person a lifetime!”