Clemson chaplain helping in fight to raise funds for cancer research

by - Senior Writer -

James Trapp remembers the thoughts that ran through his mind early in 2010 when doctors diagnosed the former Clemson player with CML, or Chronic myelogenous (or myeloid) leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.

Trapp, who played football and ran track for Clemson from 1988-92, played in the NFL from 1993-2003 with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars. He is currently the FCA Campus Director of Ministry at Clemson.

Trapp and his wife sat in the doctor’s office on that January day, listened to the diagnosis, and one thought immediately sprang to his mind: How do I fight this, and where do I get the help?

With that in mind, Trapp decided to be a part of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Man & Woman of the Year" competition, raising funds for blood cancer research. The candidates compete in honor of children who are local blood cancer survivors, the Boy & Girl of the Year. Every dollar counts as one vote, and the titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most votes at the end of ten weeks; the top local fundraisers in the country win the national titles.

Trapp, who is hoping to raise $100,000 for research, said he felt like the time was right to help other people in their own fights against cancer.

“When they approached me a couple of years ago, I really didn’t pay attention to what it was,” Trapp told TigerNet last week. “This past year, I was more inclined to sit down and listen, and once I learned about the Leukemia Society, I was all in. One of the big reasons, of course, was that I battled leukemia, and I am now in remission. It really touches me deeply, and it is a personal thing for me.

“I know that the Leukemia Society does a lot for people that have cancer, and I have taken the medications they have helped develop for cancer patients. Just knowing that there are people that are battling it, and someone new is being diagnosed with cancer every day inspires you to say something. Cancer is something that is very real and very deadly, but the foundation puts dollars into research to help cure and it is something that is very worthwhile. I am all in with that.”

Trapp said he remembers the time leading up to his diagnosis, and the thoughts that set in once he learned what he was fighting.

“I was feeling kind of down the last three months of 2009,” Trapp said. “My wife and I were on a workout regimen, and I could never finish the workouts. I was in good shape, and had never really had any health problems. Finally, in January of 2010 she told me that she was taking me to the emergency room. The doctors there were looking at me, and they weren’t exactly sure what was going on, but then they told me that my white blood cell count was extremely high and that I had to be admitted to the hospital that night.”

After being admitted, he learned about CML.

“I was admitted to the hospital, and that was extremely shocking to me because I thought I was healthy and that everything was good,” he said. “But it really threw me for a loop when they explained what was up with my body. I was interested and I was fearful, all at the same time. On January 22nd, they told me I had CML, and once they diagnosed me with that, my wife and I looked at each other and the doctors, and we said, ‘How can we fight this?’ “
Trapp said he decided to go all out in order to beat the disease.

“We said we were going to fight it with everything we had,” Trapp said. “It all went by so fast, and it was just a blur, and we didn’t really give ourselves a chance to have a setback. We knew we had to attack it with all the energy we could. We went from being diagnosed in January of 2010 to a stem cell transplant in May of 2010. My sister was my stem cell donor.

“Now I have this regimen of 13-to-16 pills a day that I have to take, and I am eating better and maintaining some kind of physical fitness program. From being diagnosed to the transplant was like a whirlwind. Something like that happens real fast, and the faster you can jump on it and understand it, the better you are. You can’t sit back and say, ‘Oh, I have cancer.’ They don’t fight as hard as they should. You have to be aggressive with it and give yourself a chance.”

Trapp now wants to take that aggressiveness and raise $100,000 for the research.

“The more money we can raise, the more we can do,” he said. “Even that isn’t even a drop in the bucket for what is needed. I look back at it, and my stem cell transplant was $420,000. I am thankful we were able to have insurance, but there are people out there who have to spend $32 and $33,000 per month on medications. Those are numbers that are staggering. But to survive, they have to take the meds and the meds aren’t cheap. I want to raise $100,000, and I am really going to push to get it.”

The campaign lasts ten-weeks between February and June, during which participants use their talents, contacts and creativity to raise funds to help advance LLS's mission.

“The biggest message I have for anyone looking to help with cancer research is that it has or will touch every family in America and maybe around the world,” Trapp said. “Instead of standing by, be aggressive. You can’t play on the sidelines. You have to get on the field to play. It is important for cancer research, and they are doing some really great things.”

To learn more about the campaign and the candidates, including James, click here:

To help James Trapp with a donation and to view his fundraising page, please click here:


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