Skiing legend Scott Gaffney broke the news last week on Instagram that his little brother, Robb Gaffney, was battling a rare form of bone marrow cancer.
Robb is a genius, one of the smoothest, most gorgeous freeskiers we at SnowBrains have ever had the pleasure of watching. He still managed to ski 100 days every year while attending medical school at UC Davis. Here’s the post by Scott, verbatim:
I have good news and I have really bad news. Let me start with the bad. In late July, my younger brother, Robb, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome with Blasts, a high risk version of blood/bone marrow cancer. We were stunned, shaken, confused, broken, scared.
But there is good news: * Anyone who has gone up mountains with Robb knows that he’s something of a machine. And even though his critically low blood counts have him operating on a fraction of what the rest of us do, he’s still going into this strong. * Robb will be receiving treatment at MD Anderson in Houston, the leading treatment center in the nation for this form of cancer. * Robb has always been an incredibly selfless soul. As news of his condition circulated through the Tahoe community the past few weeks, the outpouring of love and support has been phenomenal. What a wonderful return. He finds strength in feeling that he is not going into this alone. * At only 48, age is on his side. * Just a few days ago Robb was notified that two matching bone marrow donors had been found. This is a huge step in the process, as it was one of the hurdles completely out of his control.
Robb has been through two weeks of chemo and received a number of blood and platelet transfusions which are necessary to stay alive. With extremely low defenses, he has to avoid public scenes and personal contact because of exposure risk to germs. But he’s still getting out hiking any chance he gets.
He’ll continue with mellow chemo treatment in Tahoe for another month or two. Then he’ll head to Houston for an intense week of chemo and radiation, during which they eliminate his entire immune system. Then he’ll get a bone marrow transplant. If all goes well, he’ll remain in Houston for 2-3 more months for observation, and then will carry out another year of light chemo in Truckee.
We’re beyond the stage of disbelief and sickening sorrow; it’s time to tackle this thing head-on. There’s no question it’s going to be a long, gnarly road. For all of us on the sidelines, it’s more or less a waiting game right now. But please keep him in your thoughts, and think positively!
Robb appeared in one of our favorite ever ski movies, 1999, filmed and produced by his brother Scott, who is now the editor of all the Matchstick Productions (MSP Films) movies, as well as a part owner of MSP Films.
A GoFundMe has been set up by friends and family. As you can imagine, this has all been a huge shock – and it’s put a heavy financial burden on the family. Robb is the primary wage-earner. While he’s fighting this cancer, he has had to substantially reduce and alter his private practice.
To allow him to recover from the transplant, doctors have recommended a six-month hiatus before Robb can return to work. His son, Noah, is approaching his first year at UC Davis, and it was Robb’s intention to work extra-hard this year to help cover those costs.
Robb and his family are very grateful for the overwhelming amount of love and social support they’ve received from the community. While Robb is reluctant to seek financial support, he has been advised by many who have experienced the immense burden of such a cancer to begin this GoFundMe campaign.
Of course, with the prognosis, this is a highly challenging time for the entire Gaffney family. They very much appreciate all the thoughts, words of encouragement, prayers and well-wishes that have been pouring in. Please know that it all matters!
Thanks so much for your help!