ALLENTOWN, Pa - "He was very healthy, very active. He's been playing football since he's been eight or nine years old."
Talented and smart, William Allen High School senior Marcus DiLeo-Vereen's mother says he was the ideal teen getting ready to graduate, head to Temple with a scholarship, play football, and begin the rest of his life.
Then a few months ago, he was blindsided with something called Aplastic Anemia, a bone marrow failure.
"And from that point on, it was constantly going to the doctor and getting blood transfusions. Blood transfusions supportive care is what's saving my son's life," says Marcus' mother, Barbara DiLeo.
The transfusions, though, are a band-aid. He needs a bone marrow transplant. If he doesn't get one, this could take his life.
"It is…honestly," Marcus pauses for a moment, then says, "It's day-by-day. It's pretty rough," and lets out a nervous chuckle.
No one in Marcus' family is a match. So far, none of the two percent of the population on the national bone marrow registry is either.
"You feel useless." Barbara's voice begins to crack. "You don't know what to do. And, I'm here every day, and nobody sees what happens behind closed doors."
"They don't see the doctor's appointments, they don't see the visits, they don't see that I can't go to sleep," says Marcus, who tells us he averages two or three hours of sleep a night because of pain in his stomach from medication.
But despite what's wrong with Marcus' body, his heart is working just fine.
"Some of these kids are three or four years old," he says, referring to other patients he's met in the hospital.
"They're going through it, too, and they're getting chemo and all its stuff. That's the thing I feel more useless about for them, instead of me," he says.
Marcus used to give it all out on the field. Now he wants to change direction, change majors, and give everything to educating people.
"This has happened for a reason, and I try to take it with a grain of salt and think “well this is happening,” Marcus says, adding, "I think I'm a bridge. If I can help in any way, plus, getting myself better…I think it would be a success."
He says, it's the first chapter of the rest of his life, he's determined to write.
“And that's what's giving me this positiveness. That Marcus is going to eventually find his beginning, and make his story," his Mom says.
On Saturday, June 3, Marcus' school, William Allen High School, is holding a #MarcusStrongDay.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the community is invited to take part in a blood drive, bone marrow registry drive, a bake sale, raffles, prizes and more.
They're asking people to spread the word about the event and consider getting swabbed for the bone marrow registry and help Marcus in his fight.
If you are not able to make the event you can still help Marcus.
This link allows anyone aged 18 to 44 to answer a few questions and have a free swab kit sent right to their house in honor of Marcus.
The link is: http://join.bethematch.org/strong4Marcus
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