Niagara Gazette

April 7, 2014

CITY DESK: Trying to lend a hand

By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Jim Gravelle does everything they tell you to do. 

He eats right, exercises regularly and doesn’t smoke.

Other than the occasional beer, he’s not a big drinker either.

Which is why it came as quite a shock last year when doctors told Jim that he had a rare, cancerous tumor wrapped around his vertebra threatening to spread to his brain.

The diag- nosis — Lym- pho- blastic Lym- phoma — required intense and immediate treatment, including inpatient chemotherapy, blood and platelet transfusions and lumbar punctures. 

Doctors say through treatment the tumor has been satisfactorily addressed.

Unfortunately, Jim can’t quite celebrate full recovery just yet.

He’s about to face another rigorous challenge in the form of a month-long, inpatient bone marrow transplant procedure that is needed to address another potentially dangerous health concern.

During treatment, doctors discovered he also has a rare Philadelphia Chromosome that puts him at high risk of developing leukemia. 

Hence, the need for the bone marrow transplant. 

After 30 years of service at Nuttall Gear without taking a single sick day, Jim has finally been forced to take a few. 

He has, however, been working as he has been able because, well, that’s just the kind of guy that he is. 

In the interest of full disclosure, Jim is also my wife’s ex-husband, which may make all of this sound a bit more strange coming from me. 

While we have had a few disagreements over the years, we do have one thing in common: A love for his daughter and my stepdaughter, Krystal. 

Beyond that, Jim Gravelle is also a human being, the latest in a long and seemingly endless line of unfortunate souls who have been forced to battle one of humanity and society’s most challenging ills. 

He’s been doing his level best to battle the disease and while he’s had his share of down and difficult days, he’s still standing, ready to take on the next treatment challenge. 

All that working out and eating right must have done some good after all. 

I know full well what cancer can do people, not only physically but financially. My colleague, Michele Deluca, wrote what I believe was an underappreciated Sunday centerpiece about several area residents and their family members and friends who have had to endure the physical, emotional and financial impacts of this dreaded disease. 

Over the years, our newspaper has been absolutely inundated with requests for stories or write-ups about cancer benefits for cancer patients. 

In recent years, as the cost of treatment and the ups and downs of insurance coverage have changed, the need has seemed to grow, with more and more friends and family members desperately searching for ways to raise funds to pay off often astronomical medical bills. 

On April 26, our family — as modern-day and non-traditional as it may be — will take its turn. 

Friends, co-workers, family members and whoever else wants to show up to lend a hand will be throwing a benefit for Jim Gravelle from noon to 5 p.m., April 26, at the Rescue Fire Hall, 1241 Strad Ave., North Tonawanda. The fundraiser will feature a live DJ, food and refreshments, a kid’s corner, basket raffles and a 50-50 draw. A 50-inch LED television will be given away as the big door prize. 

Organizers are accepting donations of all kinds for use as prizes during the event. Tickets are $20 pre-sale and $25 at the door for adults and $5 pre-sale and $10 at the door for children ages 3 to 12. 

To purchase tickets or for more information about making a donation, call Krystal, or Kimberly at 716-957-6398, 716-957-6399 or 716-957-9309.

All are welcome to join us as we raise money to support Jim’s fight. All proceeds will go to cover the cost of his medical expenses.

Contact City Editor Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250.