Jerry Bayton is a Kansas City, MO, firefighter. He's also a very lucky man.
In need of a stem cell transplant, Bayton is heading to New York, ready to receive stem cells provided by his brother and fellow KCMO firefighter, Gary.
"It's put a lot of things for me into perspective," Gary Bayton said. "It's easy for someone to say, just give yourself some shots, you're gonna feel bad. Go to New York, draw it out, and you're all done."
Easy to say, but not so easy to do, Gary Bayton discovered.
"When I stared on the self-injections, it was immediate, it was painful, it wore me out, and it put into perspective for me of some of what he was going through," he told KCTV5 News.
Jerry Bayton was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in June 2013, and has been battling the terrible disease for some time now.
While fighting cancer, his family has been struggling to make ends meet, making this an even tougher fight against the disease, and the medical bills the disease is racking up.
"It's been difficult, but it's galvanized my family. It's changed my perspective on a lot of things. I don't sweat the little things any more," Jerry Bayton said. "I enjoy the little things. I enjoy my kids. I've always enjoyed my kids, but I enjoy them even more."
Jerry Bayton said he noticed so much more, that he appreciates fresh air and sunshine when he drives, the simple joys of life-joys this disease is trying to strip away.
He said he also appreciates and understands the sacrifice his brother is making.
"They told me the chances for a bone marrow match, period, is just 20 percent, and with my mom being German and my dad being black, the odds were pretty long," Jerry Bayton said.
Turns out, both his mother and his brother were compatible. He said they picked Gary Bayton because, in general, men are considered better matches with strong immune systems. So, they will head to New York, and Jerry Bayton will have the operation everyone hopes will save his life. Even that won't be easy.
"His wife has to go to New York, so who's going to take care of his children, who's going to take care of his house? There's so much more that people don't think of. It takes it out of you physically and financially. And, money doesn't grow on trees," Gary Bayton said.
To help, Kansas City Firefighters have held numerous fundraisers, shaving their heads and holding silent auctions and raffles. Friday night, it was bowling as fellow firefighters, friends, and family gathered at the Retro Bowl in Liberty to help raise money for Jerry Bayton's medical bills.
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