Dad of 3 in Need of 'Precious Time' After Being Diagnosed with Incurable Bone Marrow Cancer
A North Carolina family is desperately hoping for more time with their father and husband after he was diagnosed with an incurable bone marrow cancer that has since resulted in kidney failure.
Back in October, Jeff Atlas was diagnosed with stage 3 high-risk multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer that attacks blood plasma, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Jennifer McDonough Connelly on behalf of the family.
In the time since, Atlas has been fighting an "unrelenting and exhausting battle" while his family's loved ones rally around them to provide financial support during their time of need.
"I think it is clear to anyone who knows the Atlases that Jeff is kind, warm, and compassionate, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his family and friends," Connelly wrote. "Jeff and Leisa along with their children have been a staple of the Marvin community for as long as they’ve lived here, always welcoming and essential to so many of our lives."
"Jeff and Leisa would be making this GoFundMe for any of us if we were in this situation, so I’m writing to ask that you donate any amount — however small or large — so that the emotional and physical stress of Jeff’s illness won’t be further compounded by financial concerns," Connelly continued.
According to the fundraiser, Atlas' particular type of cancer is more challenging to manage because it's considered "high-risk."
"85% of patients with multiple myeloma are considered low risk," Connelly explained on the page. "Unfortunately Jeff is among the roughly 15% who are considered high risk due to chromosomal characteristics. This means that Jeff's particular cancer is more difficult to treat and keep under control, as it frequently finds a way to outsmart and become resistant to the treatments."
In order to manage his illness effectively, Atlas has been undergoing multiple chemotherapy treatments and dialysis each week — all of which have offered "a limited reprieve before his cancerous cells multiply and regain strength," according to Connelly.
Though there is no cure for his cancer, Connelly said the father of three was recently preparing for a tandem stem cell transplant at the beginning of August, which could potentially give him "more precious time with his family and friends."
However, an unexpected hospitalization and some medical setbacks caused Atlas' stem cell count to be lower than anticipated so doctors had to wait in order to successfully facilitate the procedure, according to a July 31 update on CaringBridge.
As he continues to fight, Atlas' family — including wife Leisa, daughter Katie, 22, and sons Kyle, 19, and Jake, 17 — have been left in "a precarious financial situation with no easy solution" since he can no longer work as a clinical psychologist.
"Jeff is the sole source of income for their family," Connelly wrote on the page. "Though their privacy must be respected, it’s worth noting that with three kids in school, they are selling their home in an effort to continue providing for Jeff’s health care, pay bills, and to support their children's educational wellbeing."
In addition to the GoFundMe, which has raised over $138,000 — surpassing its initial goal by more than $10,000 — loved ones have organized a meal train for the Atlas' through his CaringBridge page.
That support has left Leisa and their three kids speechless and feeling as though they're not alone during these incredibly difficult times.
"We don’t know how to adequately express our heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of love, encouragement, support, and extremely generous donations that you have bestowed upon us," Leisa wrote in an Aug. 4 update on the GoFundMe.
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"Simply saying thank you doesn’t seem enough. Your support has been incredibly uplifting and has made Jeff and I, and our children, feel as though we have an army behind us as we continue to battle Jeff’s unrelenting illness," she continued. "We wish we were able to reach out and thank each and every one of you individually, but we are consumed with the fight, and the demands of Jeff’s treatment day and night, there just are not enough hours in the day."
"Thank you to each and every one of you, from the bottom of our hearts," Leisa added. "We are deeply grateful for the love, well wishes, prayers, and generosity of spirit that you all have shown us. It has been positively life-altering for the five of us❤️"
Those interested in donating to the Atlas family fund can do so here.