8-year-old boy writes heartbreaking letter to strangers asking them to help save his dad
Pete McCleave seemed to be in perfect health two years ago. As an athlete and rugby coach, the dad-of-two came down with pneumonia, but it was this affliction that actually saved his life, bringing attention to another condition he was suffering from without knowing.
A few days after completing the Ironman Triathlon in September 2016, the 39-year-old had various X-rays and CT scans done due to pneumonia. It was during these scans that doctors discovered lesions in his body, pointing to blood cancer. Months of tests later, he was diagnosed with myelmona - a rare type of blood cancer that develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow.
Without a stem cell transplant, he was told he would have approximately seven years left to live. So, he and his family launched the 10,000 donors appeal, made to help raise awareness of the disease and encourage at least 10,000 people to join the United Kingdom's stem cell registry, through blood cancer charity DKMS.
Over 5,000 have signed up so far, and from these four have been confirmed as matches for those in need of a transplant. The hope is that one of the donors could be a match for Pete someday.
One of his sons, eight-year-old Max, has watched his dad go through chemotherapy and wanted to do something to help, so he drew a picture of the stem cell transplant process, and typed up a letter to encourage others to join in.
"My Dad has myeloma, which is a blood cancer that I really don’t want him to have. I really want you to help Pete my dad beat his blood cancer by registering to be on DKMS’s stem cell donor list," he wrote. "If my daddy doesn’t find a stem cell match he will only have seven more years with me and I want lots more!"
"To find himself a donor my daddy has started a campaign I want to tell everyone about because it could save him. It is called 10000donors.com. He is trying to get as many donors on the list as he can which I hope one day will be a match for him, but also for many many others.
"The picture that I have drawn, is about the stem cells. So the blue small things are the stem cells and the red is the blood. The stem cells are found in your blood if you didn’t know. The blood is put into a machine which is called a dialysis machine.
"The machine takes some of your stem cells out of your blood which they put into a pot to be cleaned and put into the person who has cancer. You don’t lose anything because your blood is then put back in to the other arm and your stem cells grow back in a few weeks.
"To the left is me with my daddy when he was first poorly. I liked his bald head as me and my brother thought he looked like Jonjo Shelvey and Newcastle United is our favourite team! Please help my daddy and sign up to be a donor, I love him and don’t want him to leave."
Pete was reportedly incredibly moved by the letter his son wrote, as reported by Metro. "It has been said in the past, probably justifiably so, that I can on occasion be a little un-emotive," he said. "When I read this letter from my son my reaction was far removed from my default setting."
"I could not be prouder of both my kids but today, Max in particular has knocked me for six. I hate the fact that he has had to be exposed to this. Clearly his understanding of my situation is much greater than I appreciated and the letter is his way of approaching it."
Hopefully, Max's letter helps bring more attention to his dad's story and the effects of the disease. You can check out the 10,000 donors website here.