Kessler McLaughlin’s life change forever on July 13, 2006. In the months leading up to that day, he was a typical 14-year-old kid, except that he was in pain all the time. Doctors couldn’t figure out why his joints were in so much pain.
Eventually, he was diagnosed with two different types of leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). CML is rare in a pediatric case, let alone mixed with AML. The doctors were baffled. They said they’d try a stem cell transplant but bluntly told him not to get his hopes up. Fast-forward a few months and Kessler’s sister was a perfect match. After an intense transplant that almost killed him, seven months later he was cured.
Last year Kessler saw a commercial for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) on Hulu. It was a look into the future, with a couple of shots of Times Square and news footage that cancer was cured. Kessler said, “LLS is envisioning a future without cancer and they are taking steps to act on it. What am I doing with my life to achieve those ends?”
Kessler was drawn to the LLS Story Volunteer role. He liked being able to talk to people with different backgrounds and being able to tell their stories at a national level. “It can be emotional, and I have to step back often and wrap my head around these stories," said Kessler. "I feel lucky they trust me to tell their story.”
Kessler volunteers for LLS because he believes volunteering affects everyone positively. He’s also a volunteer firefighter because he’s trying to make the world a better place.
“When I survived cancer, I wanted to make the most of my second chance at life. I volunteer with LLS to give others hope just like LLS gave me," said Kessler. "They helped advance a key drug that I used in my treatment, Gleevec. Without LLS, it’s very possible I wouldn’t be here today.”
If you are interested in volunteering with LLS, visit lls.org/volunteer.