Solon Supper: Benefit for Bone Marrow Transplant

July 31, 2018

By Grace Lommel

Published December 30, 2010

Somerset Times

SOLON ME- Sam Cooper, 29, was told in September that he had one year to arrange for a bone marrow transplant, six weeks of subsequent hospitalization and one year of recovery. But in December Cooper learned he’s suddenly high risk and a bone marrow transplant must occur within two months or he’ll develop leukemia.

“I was in complete denial,” said Cooper upon hearing that he had a bone marrow dysfunction. “I thought ‘this must be a mistake.'”

A benefit spaghetti supper for the Cooper family is scheduled on January 8 from 4 to 7 pm at Solon Elementary School. The goal is to raise money to tide them over until Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and possible disability benefits would kick in.

Cooper initially figured that he could continue to work as the sole provider, save his money and have time to make financial arrangements for his family: wife Catherine, Elijah (22 months) and Amelia (eight months). But on December 15 that plan was shortened by nine months.

Catherine Cooper remembers “It was like my whole world fell apart in 30 seconds. We were shocked.”

Sam Cooper has worked full time for five years at Medical Care Development (MCD). He also works seasonally at night at Sugarloaf as a children’s activities director. Met his future wife Catherine in 2003 when he was a rafting guide and she was working the front desk. They’ve “been together ever since.”

This summer Cooper felt well but he had severe coughing fits, enough to think his ribs were cracking. He was treated for pneumonia and then anemia until subsequent blood tests revealed hypoplastic myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder. This is a bone marrow stem cell disorder resulting in disorderly and ineffective production of blood-forming cells.

Suddenly all of Cooper’s minor cuts that didn’t heal quickly, the infections that didn’t add up to anything at the time were remembered. “Lots of people don’t realize that something’s wrong until it’s too late,” said Catherine.

Cooper is fortunate that two of his brothers are stem cell matches, creating a 75% chance of success. When the initial test in the summer came back, Cooper was in the low risk category. Three months later, in December, he jumped into the high risk.

He still shakes his head in disbelief. “If this is so serious, why do I feel OK?”

Cooper’s operation is scheduled for February 11, 2011 at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the latest date within Cooper’s medical window of opportunity. “I needed to get my family ready. I needed time to transition to Boston, too.”

The money raised is for rent, diapers, formula, utilities, gas cards, $5/hour parking rates and $30/night lodging rates for Catherine, as well as her meals in Boston. Cooper also needs to have four cavities filled. Catherine plans to “stay as much as possible with Sam. The kids will stay with family and friends.”

Donation cans will be out on counters from Skowhegan to Jackman. American Legion Tardiff Belanger Post 39 Madison is planning a benefit Chinese auction for the Cooper family in near future.

The January 8 benefit spaghetti supper is $8 for adults, $6 for children includes bake sale table (donations wanted) and a raffle (donations wanted). Items in the raffle so far include a rafting trip from Moxie Outdoor Adventures, free kayak rental from Awesome Trips in Moscow, free horseshoe trimming by Neil Katz, knitted afghan, Sugarloaf lift ticket. FMI information contact Emily Katz at 399-9326 or Shelly Cooper at



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