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Utah cancer patient searching for miracle bone marrow match

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 7:15pm


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HOLLADAY — Farley Eskelson is in a very uncomfortable position right now. He is asking for help from strangers who could save his life.

Eskelson was recently diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a serious bone marrow disorder that disrupts a person blood cell production. A bone marrow transplant is the only treatment that has the potential to cure him; unfortunately no one in his family is a match.

Eskelson enjoys the great outdoors, snowmobiling and working on the family ranch. But that all changed.

"Through Christmas I had a tremendous amount of pain through my left rib and right at the point of my left shoulder," he said.


I can get through this, and I'll be better for it. But it is hard, it's hard to ask for help.

–Farley Eskelson


It was so painful that Lori Eskelson insisted her husband see a doctor. His doctor did a blood test and told Eskelson his white cell count was 62,000. Normal results are between 3,500 and 10,500 white blood cells per microliter, according to the Mayo Clinic website.

"He said you either have lymphoma or leukemia," Eskelson said.

He saw a cancer specialist, who diagnosed him with primary myelofibrosis eight weeks ago. The disorder can lead to severe anemia, weakness, fatigue, and often, an enlarged spleen and liver.

"I had a 26 centimeter spleen, and that's what was referring the pain to my left rib and referring it to my shoulder," Eskelson said. A normal spleen is 11 centimeters.

That doctor referred him to Dr. Josef Prchal at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Prchal specializes in cancerous disorders of the bone marrow. He put Eskelson on Jakafi, a drug that helps shrink the enlarged spleen and reduces symptoms associated with myelofibrosis.

Within two weeks, Eskelson said his spleen started to shrink, "which gave me more room to eat and more comfortable, gave me more energy."

The drug has helped him.

"Instead of every day being a tough day, to every day is a better day," he said. But the drug doesn't take care of the problem. He needs a bone marrow transplant.

He has two older sisters, but neither was a match. He went to the bone marrow bank at Huntsman Cancer Institute, but unfortunately, "I am 1 in 100,000 or 1 in 200,000. I am the 20 percent that is hard to find a match, instead of 80 percent that's easy," he said.

"Be the Match" Bone Marrow Drive

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Time: 4:30pm – 8:30pm

Address: Latter-day Saint Meetinghouse

5450 South Holladay Blvd

National Bone Marrow organization representatives will swab your cheek. You could be a match for Farley Eskelson or someone else.

You can also register online at www.marrow.org

Time is not on his side because his condition could develop into acute myelogenous leukemia, a type of blood and bone marrow cancer that progresses rapidly.

"I can get through this, and I'll be better for it," he said, "but it is hard, it's hard to ask for help."

They are people of faith. Many have offered support and prayers.

"The amazing love we've been surrounded with, that is very touching," she said.

His family and friends are hoping to find his miracle match. They are holding a "Be the Match" bone marrow testing drive Sunday, April 14 at their Latter-day Saint meetinghouse at 5450 S. Holladay Blvd. in Holladay from 4:30p.m. to 8:30p.m.

Representatives from the National Donor Registry will be there to help with the drive. For those who can't attend, they can have a kit sent to them by going to www.marrow.org.

"I just appreciate the help," he said getting emotional.

"We never thought we would be in this situation," his wife said in a shaky voice. "We never thought we'd be right in the middle of this battle of trying to find a donor for Farley."

There are no pokes or sticks, just a swab of the cheek. If a potential match is found, then that person will be called and ask to have some blood drawn.

"We are hoping to find that one who is willing to help us and pursuing it a little further for us," she said. Even if they don't find a match for him, they hope it will help someone who has bone marrow that is hard to match.

"So everybody who can join, can save a life," he said.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

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