July 1, 2017

Positivity: Associated Press writer Will Graves doesn’t let rare form of cancer slow him down

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

The news about umpire John Tumpane preventing a suicide at a bridge in Pittsburgh (noted in yesterday’s Positivity post) prompted Powerline’s Scott Johnson to remind readers of the back story from two years ago on Will Graves, the AP reporter who covered the story for the Associated Press.

It’s worth relaying to capture the man’s humility and grace:

August 25, 2015

Will Graves is a writer for The Associated Press, covering Pittsburgh teams like the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins for the Times West Virginian and many other publications throughout the region and nation.

Graves, a 1996 graduate of West Virginia University, has made sports coverage his living since he got out of school, bouncing between daily newspapers in Maryland and Florida before joining the AP.

In 2011 he took up the Pittsburgh beat for the AP and made covering the teams in black and gold, as well as some other sports and teams, his daily routine. That basic daily routine changed however just a couple of years after he made his home in the Steel City.

Graves has always taken fitness seriously throughout his life, running in marathons, half marathons and exercising daily.

But as he progressed in age, this exercise became more difficult. He started getting short of breath and simply blamed it on lack of sleep and a poor diet.

It wasn’t until he was in Sochi, Russia, covering the Olympics that he realized there was a problem.

“Toward the end (of my time in Russia), I tried to climb this massive flight of steps,” Graves said. “I couldn’t go more than two steps without stopping.”

Graves then contacted his wife of 10 years, Ellie, and had her make him an appointment to see the doctor. He had some blood work done when he got back to the states in March of 2014.

The results were shocking.

“The doctor called me and said, ‘you need to go to the hospital right now,’” he explained.

Doctors explained to Graves that his hemoglobin level — which should be between 12-14 for an adult of his age — was at 3.5. Hemoglobin measures the oxygen levels in blood, and the lack of this chemical explained why he was getting short of breath.

… “Turns out I have something called Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, a very rare form of cancer,” Graves said. “It’s sort of like the Cadillac of lymphoma. It’s rare, but the average age of diagnosis is 61. It’s sort of an elderly disease.

… During the whole process (of treatment and recovery), Graves (gives) thanks (for) the support of his bosses at the AP, help from freelance writers and most importantly, his wife.

“She’s been unbelievable,” Graves said. “She’s been better than I deserve and better than most people could hope for. I couldn’t have done this without her.”

Now Graves is back to running and working full time.

The whole experience taught him a lot about life.

“It’s allowed me to sort of take a larger picture of things,” he said. “My job isn’t life and death anymore. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve started doing some volunteer work (as well). I tried to live in the moment more, embrace things more and not worry about things so much.”

Go here for the full story.


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