Welcome to Learn About Leukemia
The Story of My Brother's Fight Against Leukemia.
Visit Deena's Friends For a Cure for Information on fundraisers for the Leukemia
& Lymphoma Society in the Greater Pittsburgh Area!

My Brother  |  Photos  |  First Fundraiser  | Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh
Timeline & Updates
 |  The National Marrow Donor Program  |  Consider Joining the NMDP
Join the NMDP in Pittsburgh  |   Join the NMDP Nationwide
Bone Marrow Information
 |  How to Help  |  Make a Donation  |  Deena's Fundraising Events

Learn more about the marrow registry at:  www.marrowdonation.org.
Join the Marrow Registry for FREE! Simply register online at DKMS Americas and receive the cheek swab testing kit in the mail. Swab your cheek at home, send it back, and you're in the registry! It's never been easier to join. There was not ONE MATCH in the entire marrow registry for my brother. A matching marrow donor might have saved my brother's life. www.dkmsamericas.org

Anyone in general good health between the ages of 18-55 can join for free through DKMS. DKMS Americas will send you the cheek swab testing kit in the mail for free if you meet the health and age guidelines. Swab your cheeks in the comfort of your home, mail back the testing kit, and you'll be registered! It's never been so easy to join.

In the Pittsburgh area, you can also join the Marrow Registry for free through the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh--with or without making a blood donation! Contact the Central Blood Bank for details.

This Web Site is dedicated to My Brother Rand, who lost
his 10-month battle with Leukemia on February 18, 2004.

Rand E. Alansky,
September 22, 1958-
February 18, 2004.
My brother Rand will be sadly missed. He died at the age of 45. He is survived by his wife Barbara of New Castle, PA., his parents, Bill & Audrey Alansky of New Castle, PA., and his sister, Deena Alansky, of Pittsburgh, PA.

Rand was first diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia on April 2, 2003. He was in remission from May through November 2003. When the Leukemia came back, another round of chemo failed to bring him into complete remission. His only chance was a bone marrow transplant.

We had high hopes that my brother would find a bone marrow donor, and go on to live a happy life. Since I was not a match, and I'm the only sibling, we had to find an unrelated donor. We were told by the bone marrow coordinator that there were 7 potential donors, so we were very optimistic. But upon further testing, none of them turned out to be a compatible donor.

Then Rand developed Refractory Leukemia. He stopped responding to all treatment, and became too ill to even receive a marrow transplant.

He fought long and hard. He loved his wife Barbara dearly. My father told me that in the 13 years since Rand and Barb got married, he never heard my brother hang up the phone with his wife without first saying, "I love you."

I still can't believe he's gone. My only brother. My only sibling. But I will honor his memory the best I am able, and I will work to help other leukemia patients and their families to battle this horrible disease.

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My Brother has Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
The following photos were taken at Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.
May 8, 2003
  My Brother Rand at Shadyside Hospital, May 2003 Deena & Rand Karleen & Rand  
November 21, 2003
  My Brother Rand at Shadyside Hospital, May 2003 Deena & Rand Karleen & Rand  
December 13, 2003
  My Brother Rand at Shadyside Hospital, May 2003 Deena & Rand Karleen & Rand  
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Many thanks to all the musicians & all my friends, who
attended the December 12, 2003 benefit concert for
the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh!

Thanks also to Steve & Karl from the Bloomfield
Bridge Tavern, for their help, and for providing the venue!

My heartfelt thanks to the members of Aaron Burr, and all
the talented musicians who played in the Blues Jam!

Billy Evanochko and Shades of Blue
Billy Dillon with members of the CBG Connection
Hank Raffetto, Nick Crano, and Zach Wiesinger
From Jill West and Blues Attack!
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Many Thanks to Jim & Maria from the BluesBiz Web Site
for helping me to organize The Leukemia Fundraiser!

Visit the BluesBiz Web Site!

Visit the BluesBiz Web Site!
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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh

December 16, 2003:  Today I drove to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh to hand
deliver a money order for the funds earned at the Leukemia Benefit on December 12, 2003.

Center photo:  Executive Director for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Western PA
& WV chapter, George J. Omiros, and myself, Deena Alansky. Photo taken by staff
member, Christina M. Massari. Group photos of staff taken by Deena Alansky.
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Timeline & Updates on my Brother's Condition.
My brother Rand was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia on April 2, 2003.

05/08/03: My best friend from the Art Institute, Karleen, came to visit me and my brother. Karleen works in Nuclear Medicine at Shadyside Hospital, and it was a great source of comfort knowing she was nearby. As you can see, her visit cheered up everyone!

11/09/03: 4 rounds of chemotherapy knocked Rand's Leukemia into remission. But on a cold Sunday morning, 11/09/03, Rand's wife Barbara drove him into Pittsburgh with a 104 degree fever. The blood tests revealed that the Leukemia was back, and the doctors started him again on the chemotherapy.

11/14/03:  Finally after 5 days, the fever broke. He is starting to feel a little better now that the fever is gone, and he's starting to be able to eat a little food again. He has not been able to eat anything for a week. He throws up a lot from the chemotherapy and from a minor case of pancreatitis.

11/21/03:  My brother agreed to let me take some photos today, so that my cousins in Ohio and Michigan can see how he's doing. (SEE PHOTOS ABOVE) His hair has grown back from the first rounds of chemotherapy, and he seems to be keeping his spirits up. A nurse assistant at the hospital, Patrick Bonazza, took the photo of me and Rand.

11/24/03:  I got tested today at the Hillman Cancer Center to see if my bone marrow will be a match for my brother. Since I am his only sibling, I am his best chance for a perfect match. But even with the same parents, I was told that I only have a 25% chance of being a match. We'll know the results in a few weeks.

11/26/03:  My brother is feeling much better, but still cannot keep food down due to the chemo. But he is now able to walk a little and talk a lot! It must run in the family! :-) The latest blood tests now show that he is back in remission. They will be doing a bone marrow biopsy at the end of the week to confirm his current status.

11/27/03: The doctors performed yet another bone marrow biopsy on my brother today. This is the only conclusive test to determine if my brother is truly in remission. The doctors explained to me that the Leukemia cells are SO microscopically SMALL that sometimes they don't show up in the blood, but can still be present in the bone marrow. A blood test that shows no signs of Leukemia is a POSITIVE SIGN, but not the conclusive test! We should know the results in about a week.

12/04/03: VERY SAD NEWS TODAY! We just found out that my brother is still not completely in remission! The results of the bone marrow biopsy showed that "BLASTS" were still present in his marrow. For those of you unfamiliar with LEUKEMIA LINGO...the "blasts" are the immature white blood cells characteristic of Leukemia patients. These abnormal white blood cells never reach maturity, and therefore perform none of the functions of healthy white blood cells, such as fighting infection and keeping your immune system strong.

Without intervention...the blasts can multiply at such an alarming rate that they crowd out the healthy normal cells that remain! When my brother was first re-admitted to Shadyside Hospital a month ago, he had 60% blasts in his blood! The chemotherapy has brought the level of blasts in his blood back down to ZERO, which is GREAT NEWS! But the fact that some blasts remain in the marrow is BAD NEWS! This means the Leukemia cells have survived and can again begin to reproduce when the chemo is halted.

My brother's best chance now for long term survival is a bone marrrow transplant. I was tested on November 24, 2003, and I hope my marrow is a match. I should get my test results back some time next week. The doctors told me I have a 25% chance of being a match. I'll keep you all posted.

If I am not a match, we will then be looking to the National Registry to find my brother a match. Somewhere in the world there could be a total stranger, who has signed up to give my brother the gift of life! It's truly amazing...and inspirational...that in the midst of such anguish...such goodness still exists in the world!

See information below on how you can join the National Bone Marrow Donor Program, and give the gift of life! Thank you all for your kind wishes and prayers!

12/10/03: DISAPPOINTING NEWS TODAY! My bone marrow is not a match for my brother! Now we are forced to look to the national registry to find an unrelated donor. I have also begun researching Bone Marrow Transplant facilities, in order to determine which hospitals have the best programs, the most experience, the highest success rates, etc.

12/12/03: The day finally arrived for my first Leukemia Fundraiser! I am so blessed to have such wonderful, talented, and generous friends in my life! Together, we were able to raise $353.00 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh! Many thanks to all the musicians who donated their talent, and all my friends who attended! And thanks also to the owners of the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern for generously allowing me to hold this event in their establishment.

12/13/03: I visited my brother today and was happy to tell him all about the leukemia benefit. I even got to show him the digital photos, still in my camera! He was really moved that so many people came out to help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I also found out that my brother might finally be released from the hospital tomorrow. It's been 5 weeks now, and he's anxious to go home and be reunited with his wife, Barbara, and their cat, Musica. If he has no fever tomorrow, he will be allowed to go home.

But, now will come the long journey of searching for a matching bone marrow donor, while my brother spends at least 2-3 months regaining his strength. Even if we had a match right now, the doctors say he must wait a few months to recover from the chemotherapy drugs. We will be hoping and praying for a match in this interim period.

12/14/03: My brother got to go home today! It snowed last night in Pittsburgh, and I felt badly that his wife had to drive down to Pittsburgh from New Castle, PA. the day after a snowfall. But she drove slowly, and the trip was fine. Rand was so happy to finally be allowed to go home. He was released exactly 5 weeks to the day from his admission on Sunday, November 9, 2003.

12/16/03: Today I drove to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh, located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. I presented them with a money order for the $353.00 earned at the the fundraiser last Friday, December 12, 2003. It was a pleasure to finally meet the members of their staff, who have been so helpful over the phone. I felt like I already knew these people, who have helped me and my family ever since my brother was first diagnosed.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society does an amazing job of
helping those affected by Leukemia and other blood-related cancers.

12/18/03:  Rand was readmitted to Shadyside Hospital today. He only got to spend 4 nights at home, before he was called back to the hospital. His blood test done in New Castle revealed 85% blasts in his blood! This was considered a blood emergency, and he had to have blasts removed from his blood through the apheresis process.

Similar to dialysis for liver disorders, the apheresis machine is capable of filtering the blasts from the blood. This is the same machine that collects stem cells when bone marrow donors donate peripheral stem cells from the blood; and the same machine that allows people to donate plasma.

Rand was also started on yet another round of chemotherapy. We hope this will buy him some more time, while we continue to wait for a compatible bone marrow donor.

01/27/04:  The doctors finally decided that Rand was stable enough that he would be allowed to go home the next day. My mother had called to tell me that Rand was anxious about going home. He didn't think he was ready. He thought it was too soon.

I went to visit Rand in the hospital the night before his release and asked him about his feelings on the subject. He expressed concern to me about his recurring bouts with fever and infection. He thought the doctors were sending him home too soon, and if something went wrong, it would be harder to address the problem outside of the hospital environment.

I asked him, "Don't you want to get the hell out of this place?" I thought after close to 3 months in the hospital, he would be anxious to go home. He said he did want to go home, but not before he was ready. We wondered if it had anything to do with the doctors and insurance companies.

I told Rand that there was an entire team of doctors consulting on his case, and that they wouldn't send him home if they didn't think he was stable. I asked him if he trusted his doctors, and he said, "Barely." But I had met with some of his doctors, and I truly felt they had his best interest at heart.

That evening Rand looked so good to me...like he was feeling better. He was in "civilian" clothes for the first time in a long time:  Sweat pants and a t-shirt...instead of the hospital gown and/or scrubs. At that moment in time, I really thought he was going to be fine. Now I wonder if his hesitation to go home was somehow a foreboding of things to come. But I also think it was a gift from God that he had 2 weeks to spend at home.

01/28/04:  Rand was allowed to go home on Wednesday, January 28, 2004.
The doctors decided that he was stable enough to wait at home for news about the bone marrow transplant. He still had to return to Pittsburgh a few days a week to see his doctors and get the occasional transfusion, but overall was doing better and feeling better.

We were still waiting for news about an unrelated bone marrow donor. Rand was told in December 2003 that there were 3 "potential" donors for him, but we have heard nothing new since that time. We don't know if they were able to locate any of those people, and/or if they are still able and/or willing to donate. So, we are stuck in "limbo land"...not knowing the status of the so-called potential donors. It's very frustrating to play the waiting game, but we are all trying to be patient and hoping for the best.

When Rand was released from the hospital last week, he and his wife moved in with my parents in New Castle. Rand cannot be around their cat for the time being, because of his immune system being compromised. His doctors have advised against him being around the cat until his body's immunity is back to normal...or at least close to normal. This may not be until many months after the bone marrow transplant.

Fortunately, Rand and Barb's house is only a mile away from my parents' house in New Castle, so Barb can go home each day to check on the cat and the house. Unfortunately, there is no one in New Castle who can give the cat a temporary home during these troubled times, so this is the temporary solution they have found.

I am hoping for Rand to stay at the Family House in Pittsburgh after he gets his bone marrow transplant. According to his doctors, he must be in close proximity to the hospital for the first 100 days after the bone marrow transplant. Most likely, the first half of that will be in the hospital. So, we are looking at Rand and Barb possibly staying at Family House for 1-2 months during Rand's recovery.

Family House, which provides low-cost housing for patients recovering from a wide range of illnesses, has 3 locations in the East End near Shadyside Hospital. Two locations are in Shadyside, and 1 location is in Oakland.www.familyhouse.org

SATURDAY, 02/14/04:   Rand returned to Shadyside Hospital on February 14, 2004. Rand was home in New Castle for about 2 weeks, but took a turn for the worse on Saturday evening, February 14, 2004. He was having trouble eating the whole time he was home due to the oral chemo drugs he'd been taking, and the lack of food made him weak. He started running a high fever again, and also developed severe back pain.

My father called an ambulance to take him to Jameson Hospital in New Castle. Later that night, he was transferred again by ambulance...this time back to Shadyside Hospital.

SUNDAY, 02/15/04:  Today I found out that my brother was back in the hospital. I went to see him, and his wife Barbara was there. She planned to spend the night with him, as she would sometimes do, and sleep in a chair beside his bed.

Barbara would always bring fun things to hang up to make Rand's room more cheerful. "Eye Candy" they would both call it! We weren't allowed to bring flowers because of Rand's suppressed immune system, but Barbara had some stuffed animals, mobiles, and inspirational messages on the walls.

Barb had sent me 2 photos of their beloved pet cat, Muzika. So I scanned them, blew them up on my computer, printed them out. I thought the photos of the cat would help inspire Rand, while adding to the "eye candy' in the room!

Barb was very upset when I spoke with her on Sunday evening. Apparently the doctors she spoke with that day had given Rand very little chance of recovery at that point. She was very angry at the doctors, as she held onto the hope that Rand would pull through. The doctors' forecast was very grim.

MONDAY, 02/16/04:  After spending Sunday night at the hospital, Barb's mother picked her up on Monday morning. Tuesday she was still too upset to return. She was really pissed off at the doctors. I felt so sad for her. I wasn't present when she spoke with the doctors on Sunday, and so I don't know exactly what the doctors said to her. I wondered if it wasn't really her anger at the situation itself, but the doctors were the ones conveying this horrible message.

Today (Monday) I spoke with one of Rand's doctors. He explained the grave situation to me, as I wept. Rand had developed "Refractory Leukemia" which meant...he had stopped responding to treatment. The trademark "blasts" were once again overpopulating his blood.

He had a high fever off and on...up to 104 degrees at times. He had fungal pneumonia in his lungs. And he had also developed severe back pain and elevated respiration. He was now on morphine, which he claimed merely took "the edge" off the back pain. No one really knew for certain what was causing the back pain.

The doctors told me that he was no longer a candidate for a bone marrow transplant because he was too sick. And the doctors told me that the elevated respiration rate would eventually cause the muscles in his lungs to fail.

But even if Rand had been well enough to receive a transplant...it turned out that NONE of the so-called "potential donors" had been a perfect match.

The field of "potential donors" had grown to 7, and we had been so hopeful that one of these 7 people would be a match. But they all turned out to match only 5 out of 6 markers, and the doctors needed an exact 6 point match.

Because Rand never went into complete remission, and because of the complications he had with fevers and infections, the doctors would have only attempted the transplant with a perfect 6 point match.

But it all became a moot point. No donors and the transplant was now out of the question.

The doctor told me that his number one oath was to, "Do no harm." And that a transplant in my brother's condition would surely kill him. I felt like I was watching a movie as I listened to the doctor speak. It all seemed so surreal.

TUESDAY, 02/17/04:  I spent the entire day and most of the night at the hospital today. My parents had driven in from New Castle in the morning, but only stayed a few hours. They both looked like they'd been crying when I arrived. They soon left, and I was alone with my brother for the rest of the day. I think it was too painful for them to see Rand in that condition.

That day, the social worker spoke to my parents and my brother, trying to find out what Rand's wishes were regarding a DNR...Do Not Resuscitate order. Rand was opposed to it, because his wife was opposed to it.

But Barb eventually changed her mind, and phoned the social worker from her parents' house in Youngstown, Ohio to say she would support whatever decision Rand would make. Barb spoke with Rand on the phone, but he would not make a decision without Barb present. She was due back at the hospital Wed. morning, and Rand said he would decide when he spoke with her in person on Wednesday.

I wondered if Rand would still be able to speak and make that decision by the next day. It turned out...he could not.

A very kind nurse at the hospital gave me permission to use the phone at a nurse's station right outside my brother's room. So I began calling my cousins and family members, urging them to visit my brother as soon as possible. I didn't want to make the calls from my brother's room, especially since I ended up crying through each call.

My brother could still talk on Tuesday afternoon and evening, but I could see that he was in a lot of pain from his back, and his lips were dry and chapped from breathing through his mouth. He had a line of oxygen into his nose, and was only using his mouth to breathe. So, I kept putting lip balm on his parched lips to try to help. And I'd offer him water and food. He only ate 2 teaspoons of a protein shake the entire day.

He could barely move his body at this point. He needed me to push the buttons on his bed to elevate the bed or recline the bed. I pulled my chair up next to the bed and held his hand as we watched TV together that evening...for the last time.

I was afraid to leave the hospital that night, but I still thought he had more time. I never thought things would happen so quickly. I went around to all the night staff on duty, and gave everyone my home and cell phone numbers. I gave everyone instructions to call me overnight if anything changed. Since I live 15 minutes from the hospital, I figured I could return at a moment's notice. No one called me that night.



My mother called me Wed. morning to tell me to get to the hospital. They had called my parents in New Castle, and my father was on his way. Then the doctor called me from Shadyside Hospital and told me to come right away. Rand's blood had stopped clotting, and he was starting to bleed out. I rushed to the hospital.

It all seems so surreal. Just a few weeks ago things were looking optimistic. Leukemia is such a devastating disease. In the last few days of my brother's life, everything spiraled out of control.

Rand's wife Barbara arrived at the hospital and only stayed a short time. I crossed paths with her and her mother and sister in the hallway. I was arriving as they were leaving. Barb was in tears, and we hugged each other. I think it was just too traumatic for her to watch the final demise of the man she loved so dearly. But while she was at the hospital, she gave consent for the DNR.

That morning, Rand had been taken to the ICU. I kept thinking about what the doctor had told me on Monday...that his lungs would become exhausted from the elevated respiration. I didn't know how much time we had together, but my father and I were there with him to say good-bye.

My father was standing on Rand's left side, and I was on the right. Each of us had a hand to hold. My father leaned close to my brother's ear and told Rand, "Don't be afraid. It's a better place you're going to. Don't be afraid. And you're going to see Bubbie, and Zaydie, and Aunt Becky." My father was referring to his parents (Yiddish for grandma & grandpa) and his baby sister Becky, who died of breast cancer in 1982.

I wanted to lighten the moment. I started thinking of what heaven might be like. If all the good people throughout history went to heaven. If this is true, then when we die, wouldn't we get to meet them all? Why would we only see our relatives? Wouldn't we get to see all the famous people who had done good deeds throughout their lives?

So after my father told my brother that he would see our grandparents and aunt, I said, "And Benjamin Franklin, and Lincoln, and John Kennedy!" I have NO IDEA why those 3 names popped into my head, but they did! My dad gave me a dirty look!

And then we looked back down at Rand. I saw him take one more breath, and then his body froze. My father said, "He just died." I said, "No, he did not!" I just couldn't believe that was it! I thought he would hold on at least until my cousins and my aunt arrived to say good-bye.

I was able to contact my cousin Miriam from Pittsburgh, and tell her that my brother had passed away. She still wanted to come to the hospital and pay her final respects.

My cousin Kim, her husband Fred, and my Aunt Paula were en route from Youngstown, Ohio; and I had no way to contact them. I had forgotten to get their cell phone numbers. So when they finally walked off that elevator at Shadyside Hospital, they had no idea that Rand was already gone.

I had to convince the hospital staff to leave Rand in the hospital bed until my cousins and Aunt arrived, so that they could pay respects and say their good-byes. My cousin Miriam arrived first around 6:15 P.M. and then my cousin, her husband, and my Aunt from Youngstown arrived at 6:30 P.M., right when the staff had told me my time was up! 5 minutes later and they would have missed seeing Rand at the hospital!

It was a very emotional day, as I'm sure you can imagine. And the saddest day of my life. I am so grateful that my cousin Miriam came to pay her respects to Rand, and to offer emotional support to me.

And I am extremely grateful to my cousin Kim, her husband Fred, and my Aunt Paula, who spent Wed. evening with me in Pittsburgh before returning to Youngstown. They bought me dinner, and came back to my apartment for a few hours. My father had returned to New Castle to tell my Mom the sad news in person, so if not for Kim, Fred, and Aunt Paula; I would have been alone that evening...on the saddest day of my life.


It was a source of controversy for a while. My brother wanted to be cremated. I discovered that this goes against the Jewish religion. I didn't know that. But my brother hadn't been a practicing Jew for many years, and he had put his wishes into a will. So out of respect for his last wishes, he was cremated.

My father was very much opposed to this, but finally gave in to Rand's last wishes. I know that my father visits the graves of his parents and other relatives, and I think he felt saddened that he wouldn't be able to visit Rand's grave. I told him my philosophy:   that the spirits of our loved ones live on in our hearts. So, he can talk to Rand anytime he wants...anywhere he wants.

Four of my friends from Pittsburgh traveled to New Castle that day. I was so touched that my friends would go out of their way to lend moral support to me and my family. It's about an hour and a half drive from Pittsburgh to New Castle. I was also touched that 4 guys who graduated with my brother from High School, read the obituary in the newspaper, and showed up at the funeral home with a huge bouquet of flowers and a card.

And of course, I am grateful that so many relatives traveled long distances to be there. It meant a lot to me, and I know it meant a lot to my parents. Many thanks to all our friends and family for your sympathy, kindness, and prayers. We are grateful for your support during this difficult time.

Rand will live on forever in our hearts.


As kids, we used to argue, fight and wrestle all the time. But I was a scrawny kid, and my brother was 2 1/2 years older than me. Finally, my parents laid down the law. Rand was not allowed to hit me, because they didn't want to pay the hospital bill! So I continued to jump on his back, and he could only push away the bratty little sister who wanted to follow him everywhere!

Rand and I were both into Science Fiction as kids and teens. We used to beg my parents to let us stay up late on Saturday nights to watch "Chiller Theatre." We both loved the claymation at the start of the show. Those of you reading this and living in Western PA may remember the letters spelling "Chiller Theatre" slowly devouring each other! How coooool we thought that was! Groovy special effects for THOSE days!

We loved the monster movies! Especially Godzilla! But really, we loved them all! Rodan, Mothra, King Kong. My brother and I were also major league TREKKIES! This was way back when there was only ONE Star Trek series on TV! Oh, yes...ancient, ancient history!

We used to have contests to see who could name the most episodes! Our favorite episode was "The Trouble With Tribbles." Although personally, I am also very fond of the Silicone Monster that bore through solid rock! When Spock does the Vulcan Mind Lock with the monster...that is truly a CLASSIC STAR TREK MOMENT!

Rand also love all the new Star Trek series. And he was a major league fan of the X-Files! He even had an X-Files jacket!

Rand and I used to play pool and ping pong as kids. And badminton in the summer time. I was always bugging him to go to the community swimming pool with me in the summer, and I would succeed about once or twice the whole season!

When playing ping pong, we always tried to psych each other out by singing goofy songs from movies. Rand's favorite was the "Jets" song from West Side Story. You know..."When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette, to your last dying day!"

We also liked to use famous lines from Sci-Fi movies for psych-out strategy. Our favorite lines were from The Little Shop of Horrors and The Fly. We would alternate between:  "Feeeeeeeed Meeeeee!" and "Heeeeeeeeelp Meeeeee!" We would be trying to play ping-pong without totally cracking up laughing each time the other one would say the famous line!

Rand and I used to race each other home from school to see who could get the mail first! It was a daily contest. We lived 2 blocks from the High School, so we walked to school in the morning...but we always RAN home from school in the afternoon!

Rand graduated from High School in 1977, 2 years ahead of me, and enrolled in the Air Force. I used to fight with my Dad for the right to speak with my brother on the phone when Rand would call home.

In the Air Force, Rand spent time in Texas, Las Vegas, and eventually Korea. At the end of his 4 years, he decided to live in Las Vegas. He tried his hand at a vending machine business, but eventually returned to New Castle.

He started to work in the t-shirt business with my father. They sold shirts at a circuit of flea markets in Eastern Ohio and Western PA. It was at the Flea Market that Rand met his wife, Barbara.

They were married on July 17, 1990, and they bought a house about 1 mile from where my parents live in New Castle. I've never seen two people more in love than Rand and Barbara. I think that my brother was truly blessed to find his soul mate. I am grateful to Barb for bringing so much joy into my brother's life.

I am grateful that my big brother got to see me graduate from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 2002, and attend my graduation dinner. I'm glad my big brother got to see his little sister go back to school and get a new degree! Rand was really into computers, and he loved that I could now show him new things!

I really got to know Rand better in the last 10 months than I ever had since we were kids living under the same roof. As adults, we were both so busy living our separate lives in separate cities, that we rarely saw each other more than a few times a year.

But these past few months were a gift. I got to know my brother as an adult. He was our own personal version of Cliff Claven from Cheers. He loved to talk about every subject under the sun! He had so many dreams. He wanted to raise ostriches! Crazy dreams. He wanted to buy a house and convert it to solar power. I've thought of doing that, too!

He always wanted to know how my web projects were going. And I got to show him THIS web site on the computers at the hospital. He got to see the photos I took of him with my digital camera on the web site and thought it was cool!

One of his last days, I asked Rand what all his favorite things were.

Favorite Color:  Light Purple.
Favorite Food:  Barb's...anything made by his wife Barbara.
Favorite Painter:  Peter Max.
Favorite Movie: Couldn't decide on a favorite movie, but I know he loved Monty Python and the Holy Grail...and the whole Monty Python TV series. He loved comedy and sci-fi. He also loved the movie Dogma, every version of Star Trek known to mankind, and was a HUGE FAN of the X-Files.

Rand adored the family cat, Muzika. Rand like to tell the story that Muzika named herself, because she was the only kitten in the litter making any noise. The other joke was that she was catching mice in their house until she caught enough to pay off her vet bill from when she broke a leg as a kitty.

Rand was truly an amazing person. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known. He never put people down. He was a dreamer. He loved his wife deeply. He loved his family deeply.

Rand will live on in the hearts of all who knew him.

Rand E. Alansky, September 22, 1958- February 18, 2004.

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Gift of Life!

The National Marrow Donor Program

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) is a nonprofit organization that facilitates life-saving blood stem cell transplants for patients who do not have a donor in their family. We provide the products and services that bring patients and donors together through life-saving technology. We manage the world's largest registry of volunteer donors. We are also working to increase access to transplantation through research, advocacy, and public and professional education.

Recruiting Committed Volunteer Donors

Each year, more than 30,000 people are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases for which a marrow transplant may offer the only chance for a cure.

The NMDP maintains the world's largest, most diverse registry. With so many potential donors, the likelihood of finding a match has increased dramatically for patients from all racial and ethnic groups .Nevertheless, even with millions of potential donors on the Registry, some patients are unable to find a match because of the rarity of their tissue traits. The need remains for more potential donors.

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Please Consider Joining:
The National Marrow Donor Program!

Learn more at my sister web site:

Please contact the Central Blood Bank to join the Marrow Registry:  1-800-310-9551
They will have you fill out a registration form and give you the cheek swab kit.

At the present time, there is NO FEE involved in joining the
National Marrow Donor Program in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
There may be fees to join in other cities around the country, so please check
with the National Marrow Donor Program for information about joining in your area.
If you are ever found to be a match, there would never be any additional fees
on the part of the donor.
The patient and/or the patient's insurance pays for expenses.
When you join the National Marrow Donor Program, you become part of a world-wide network of volunteers with
the potential to save a life if you're ever found to be someone's miracle match! YOU CAN BE A SUPERHERO!
If you are interested in joining the National Marrow Donor Program, please begin by educating yourself about the requirements and responsibilities of the program. You will find educational information at the National Marrow Donor Program's Web Site.
To join the program, you must be in good health, and between the ages of 18-60. You will be required to give blood, and then your bone marrow will be typed. From that time on, you may be called upon to donate marrow until the age of 60! You are removed from the database on your 61st birthday.
It is a huge commitment to join the registry. You have the potential to save
someone's life! You can truly be a superhero...and give the gift of life!
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Steps to Joining the National Marrow Donor Program
in the Greater Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area:


Be in relatively good health, between the ages of 18-60, and willing to donate to ANY PATIENT IN NEED if you are ever found to be a matching donor. Have the names, addresses and phone numbers of two contact people who don't live with you, and don't live with each other. This is so that they can locate you, in case you move and forget to update your contact info.
2. Become educated about the requirements and responsibilities of the program.
Visit:  www.marrow.org or www.dkmsamericas.org or www.marrowdonation.org or call:  1-800-526-7809.

Join for FREE online at:  www.dkmsamericas.org. Register online, and they'll send the cheek swab testing kit right to your home!

4. Join for FREE at any branch of the Central Blood Bank. Registration for the marrow registry is FREE at the Central Blood Bank--whether you donate blood or not. (The criterion for joining the registry is slightly different than that for donating blood. You MIGHT still be eligible to join the registry, even if you can't give blood.) For example, you can't donate blood if you've visited certain countries or if you've had a body piercing or tatoo in the past year. Neither of these things disqualify you from joining the marrow registry.
5. Fill out the registration form, and read and sign a consent form from the National Marrow Donor Program. Afterward, you will be given the cheek swab kit. The swabs look like long Q-tips, and there is a total of four. You will swab the inside of your cheeks, and put the swabs into the kit to be sent to the lab.
6. CONGRATULATIONS! You've become a REAL LIFE SUPERHERO, with the power to save a life if you are ever found to be someone's lifesaving match! If you move, please update your contact info with the marrow registry.
AND THAT'S IT! It's that easy to join! And it's FREE in the Pittsburgh Area!
*Please remember to provide the National Marrow
Donor Program with your new address if you ever move.
*When you join the program, please be prepared to provide the names of 2 contact people, who don't live with you, and don't live with each other. This is to help the Marrow Program locate you, if you're ever found to be someone's match. Sometimes people move, and forget to update their contact information, so these "contact people" can help the staff at the Marrow Registry to find you. Please bring the names, addresses, and phone numbers for your 2 contact people with you when you sign up to join the Marrow Registry! THANK YOU!
*The consent form allows you to join the National Registry, but you are still under
no obligation to donate. You always retain the right to change your mind at any time.
*PLEASE BE completely certain of your decision BEFORE joining!
This is a huge commitment, and we don't want to give false hope to a
Leukemia patient or other cancer patient about finding a life-saving match!
Phone Numbers:
The National Marrow Donor Program:  1-800-526-7809
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh:  1-800-726-2873
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Information Resource Center:  1-800-955-4572
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To Join The National Bone Marrow Donor
Program Outside of the Greater Pittsburgh Area,

Please Contact one of the following organizations:
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's
Information Resource Center (IRC)
is a national call center staffed by social
workers, nurses and health educators.
Call toll free:  1-800-955-4572
The National Bone Marrow Donor Program
Give the Gift of Life!
The National Marrow Donor Program www.marrow.org
Inside the US:  Call Toll Free:  800-526-7809
Outside of the US:  Call:  612-627-5800.
Send e-mail to:  advocate@nmdp.org
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Bone Marrow Information from
the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with such life-threatening diseases as leukemia and certain immune system or genetic disorders that can be treated with blood stem cell transplants.

Since it began operations in 1987, the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) has facilitated more than 16,000 transplants throughout the world. About 75 percent of these transplants are for patients with some form of leukemia.

The National Marrow Donor Program is a nonprofit organization that connects patients who do not have a marrow or blood stem cell donor in their family with life-saving transplant resources and services. The NMDP is working to increase access to and improve the outcomes of marrow and blood stem cell transplants through research, advocacy, and public and professional education.

Learn more about patient resources and services of the National Marrow Donor Program at www.marrow.org.

To speak directly with an NMDP case manager about unrelated donor transplant, call (888) 999-6743. (Outside the United States, call (612) 627-8140.)

To speak to someone directly, contact the Society's Information Resource Center (IRC), staffed by social workers, nurses and health educators, who provide the most current information on leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, free of charge.

The Information Resource Center:  (800) 955-4572

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How Can You Help? Here are some links from
The Leukemia Society & The NMDP Web Sites:

How To Help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:

How To Help the National Marrow Donor Program:

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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Web Site
Provides Many Ways To Make a Donation:

Learn About a Variety of Donation Options:

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society provides many options for contributing
to the cause. Everything from Holiday Greeting Cards, to Estate Planning!

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society relies on the support of individuals, corporations and foundations to fund the Society's research initiatives, patient services and education programs.We are extremely grateful to our many generous donors and sponsors who made it possible for us to invest $358 million in research since 1949.Your gift will help us find cures for leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma.

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Coming Soon to a Club Near You! Deena's Fundraising Events!
I will be organizing fundraising events for the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society from time to time. Visit Deena's Friends For a Cure for Updates!
If you are interested in donating your talent, time, and
energy to a future fundraiser, please send e-mail to:

My Brother  |  Photos  |  First Fundraiser  | Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Pittsburgh
Timeline & Updates
 |  The National Marrow Donor Program  |  Consider Joining the NMDP
Join the NMDP in Pittsburgh  |   Join the NMDP Nationwide  |  Please Consider Giving Blood
Bone Marrow Information
 |  How to Help  |  Make a Donation  |  Deena's Fundraising Events


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This web site is dedicated to my brother Rand, who demonstrated incredible courage during
his 10 month battle with Leukemia. He will live on forever in the hearts of all who knew him!