SUTTON, Mass. – After 37 years of marriage, two children and five grandsons, David and Debra Moore remain very much in love. They hold hands. They sometimes wear matching outfits.
“We drive people crazy,” David said.
“I thank God every day of my life for this young lady,’’ David said of his wife, holding one of her hands with both of his. Without her he doesn’t believe he could have made it through the last two years.
David was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukema in March 2010. After a stem cell transplant and two rounds of chemotherapy, he just finished his last week of maintenance chemotherapy. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright.
“Hopefully, in August we’ll be done. They’re monitoring me to see how it (the treatment) is working. Right now it’s doing what they want it to do,’’ David said.
Debbie will take some of the credit for her husband’s well-being, but one of the lifesavers is their habit of donating blood every February in honor of Valentine’s Day.
They’ve donated blood as often as they can every year since before they were married, Debbie said, but the February donation holds special meaning because it’s something they do together out of love in the month of love.
At a blood drive in December 2009, David’s blood was rejected for low iron content. He was advised to eat green, leafy vegetables and try again in a couple of months. He did, and in February 2010 was rejected again.
“My wife made me call the doctor,’’ Dave said. “I’d gotten out my medical book and read the word cancer; a lot of other causes too, but cancer was there,’’ Debbie said, though she didn’t tell her husband then what she feared.
David said he felt fine at the time, but Debbie noticed a difference in her husband, including shortness of breath after he climbed a flight of stairs.
He went to the doctor who took blood for testing on a Friday. On Tuesday, the doctor called and said he’d made David an appointment with an oncologist. He had a bone marrow biopsy that week which confirmed the diagnosis of leukemia.
David’s leukemia was caught very early because donor blood is tested before it is drawn. “By giving the gift of life, we received it,’’ David said.
Now the Moore’s are encouraging everyone to give the gift of life on Feb. 22 at a blood drive being hosted in their name at the Whitin Community Center, where Debbie its aquatic director.
David worked for Freightway and was in the Air National Guard before his retirement.
David needed many donated pints of blood and platelets during his treatment. Because of the stem cell transplant, he’ll never be able to donate again, but he’s hoping their story will encourage others to do what he and his wife have always done.
The Moore’s were married Aug. 17, 1974 in Our Lady of Assumption Church in Millbury. They met at the wedding shower of a mutual friend the week David came home after four years in the Air Force, a year spent in Vietnam. Ten months later, they were married.
“I was enthralled,’’ David said, drawn to Debbie by her smile.
“It was love at first sight for both of us,’’ Debbie agreed, “but I still made it hard for him.’’
With the children grown and married, the Moores have done some traveling – Baltic and Mediterranean cruises, Europe, their time share in the Bahamas. They dream, though, of traveling the United States and they’re got an RV ready to go in their driveway.
A clean bill of health in August and they’re off – first stop Arcadia National Park in Maine.
The blood drive will be held Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the Whitin Community Center, 60 Main St., Northbridge, from 2 to 7 p.m.