Leukemia survivor gives back through Jimmy Fund Golf

John (right) and his brother Brian.
John (right) and his brother Brian.

Your white blood cells and platelets are all over the place and I don’t like what I see.

John Krause tried to absorb his doctor’s words. The blood work drawn at his annual physical showed some abnormalities, so doctors performed additional tests. They told him the next day he had acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

“I was shocked, scared, and a little fearful when I heard the news,” John says. “At that moment, my focus shifted to doing whatever I could to beat it.”

John vowed to listen to his doctors and stay off the Internet, where he might have come across disheartening or misleading information. In the end, he knew that his will, determination, and faith, along with the love of his wife Tatum and three children (with a fourth on the way), would pull him through. It did, and John entered into remission after an intense treatment course at a hospital in his native Connecticut.

Unlike some cancers, when John entered remission his treatment continued. He now had a choice to make: continue lower-risk consolidation chemotherapy or receive a higher-risk stem cell transplant. He chose option three: travel to Boston to seek a second opinion at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“Growing up in New England, I knew of Dana-Farber, but all I knew of was its cancer connection,” John admits. “That’s until I went there. Everyone is so welcoming; you feel like you’re getting the red carpet treatment. [The doctors] give you the confidence you need to put your faith in them. It empowered me to make better decisions about my treatment.”

Under the advisement of Robert Soiffer, MD, and his care team at Dana-Farber, John elected to receive a stem cell transplant. It was his only chance at a true cure and luckily his brother Brian was a 100% match. After the team successfully transplanted his brother’s cells into his body, John left the hospital to begin recovery at home.

John feels fortunate to have had a strong support system that extends beyond physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals. It’s not lost on him that a cancer diagnosis can often bring significant financial burdens on families, especially those facing diseases like AML where the treatment course can last many months or years.

John with his wife (right) pictured inside the healing garden at Dana-Farber’s Yawkey Center for Cancer Care.

“The very last thing patients and their families should have to worry about are travel expenses and other obligations, so we wanted to find a way to help,” he says.

John spoke with his Dana-Farber social worker about the ways in which he could give back to the Institute through the Jimmy Fund. One of the programs she mentioned was Jimmy Fund Golf. John had played in charity golf tournaments and always wanted to plan one of his own, but never had a meaningful cause to connect it to. Now he did.

After John left the hospital, he started planning the first annual Team John and the Jimmy Fund Golf Tournament. With the support of Jimmy Fund Golf, John’s first charity golf tournament was a huge success. In its first year, the event raised more than $28,000 to support stem cell research and patient programs for families fighting AML. It’s John’s way of helping those in need and extending his gratitude to Dana-Farber, his supportive wife and his lifesaving brother, Brian.

“I can never repay my brother for the selfless gift he has given me, and I want him to know how much I love him,” John says. “I just hope that with his DNA in my body, my golf game doesn’t go downhill!”

The second annual Team John Golf Tournament will take place at the on September 19, 2016, at the Topstone Golf Course in South Windsor, Connecticut. Learn more about how you can support Dana-Farber’s lifesaving mission when you start a tournament with Jimmy Fund Golf.

Dan D’Onofrio
Account Manager/Writer, Development Communications