BIDDEFORD – Five weeks before he was to enter high school, Corey Laplume was diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and for three and a half years he fought the disease. After multiple rounds of chemotherapy, his doctors said Corey was in remission. But just five weeks before he was to graduate, he relapsed. The cancer was back.
“Now, his doctors say he needs a bone marrow transfer to survive,” said Derek Volk, the president of Volk Packaging in Biddeford. “He’s just 18.”
Volk has been a business associate of Derek’s father, Dana Laplume, for years, and thought he could help. On Wednesday, June 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the company will host a bone marrow registration drive at their offices in the Biddeford Industrial Park.
“We held a drive in 2005 and registered 198 people,” Volk said. “This year we’d like to do more.”
The drive is sponsored by the National Marrow Donor Program and, as Volk said, “It only takes 10 minutes to sign up and register.”
“They just swab your cheek – It’s easier than brushing your teeth,” he said.
“The agency is looking for people who are between the ages of 18 and 44,” Volk added. “Most of the success has come from this age group and someone who joins the registry in their 20s may stay on the list for 15 years or more.”
Volk said that from what he knew, the transplant process has changed quite a bit over the years.
“Now, I think it’s about the same as giving blood,” he said.
“From what I understand, for a few days prior to the transplant donors are given medication to boost proteins and increase the number of stem cells in their blood,” Volk said. “Then they donate the enriched blood and the stem cells and other blood products are removed. The remaining blood is returned to their system and that’s it.”
Volk said that while the chances of finding an exact match for Corey at the drive are slim, “You don’t know if you don’t try.”
Both father and son hope they can make it to the bone marrow drive, but Corey was recently hospitalized with clots in his lungs and, as his father said, “It all depends on how he feels.”
Corey and his parents, Vicky and Dana, live in Rochester, N.H. Corey has started a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/iwishcancerwouldgetcanceranddie) and is actively working to help raise money and awareness.
“Corey designed some T-shirts that really do sum up his feelings about the disease,” Dana Laplume said. “They’re black and pink and simply say: ‘I wish cancer would get cancer and die.’ ”