By Cheryl Conway
When 18-year old Paige Cooper of West Orange learned that her good friend’s white blood cell count got higher she immediately jumped into action.
The senior at Newark Academy in Livingston began a Go Fund Me Page and started selling orange wristbands to raise money for 18-year old Jimmy Tiernan of West Orange who has been fighting leukemia since he was in the eighth grade. Funds will be used to help Tiernan and his family pay for medical treatments.
As of press time, Team Jimmy’s Go Fund Me Page had raised $6,832 by 122 contributors in just 13 days. Cooper began the online fundraising campaign on Feb. 25 with a goal of reaching $25K. For the wristband sale, she had started with an order of 200 bracelets that say “Team Jimmy” on one side and “No one fights alone” on the other side. That order grew to 500 more in just days with $1,500 raised.
“I’ve known about his leukemia since he was diagnosed,” says Cooper. “It was dormant.” Recently, though, his white blood cells count got higher and “things became more official for a bone marrow transplant. “I said I’d do anything I can for you.”
Friends with Tiernan since middle school, Cooper says “We’re very, very close; he’s my best friend. It’s a tangible way to show him how much I care about him. Jimmy has always been so happy go lucky. I wanted to make sure people are supportive of him. He’s such a good person.
“He’s always been here for me as a friend; I wanted to return the favor.”
In looking ahead, Cooper says she may plan a Team Jimmy in Relay for Life in May.
Tiernan, a senior at West Orange High School, is so grateful for Cooper’s friendship and all of the support he has gotten from contributors so far.
“I’m pretty thankful for it,” Tiernan says. “I’m pretty thankful the community is supporting me and that I won’t be going through this alone. It’ll help with future medical costs,” as he will be required to visit the doctor two to three times a week after the transplant.
It was on Dec. 31, 2011 when Tiernan was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia during a routine blood test over Christmas break. “They thought it was a mistake,” he says. Since then he has undergone six bone marrow biopsies and was put on medication, which he says had stopped working. He was put on another medication and that also stopped being effective. Tiernan is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant at Hackensack Medical Center at the end of March.
“I was matched with a few donors,” Tiernan says. “The doctor chose one today,” he told the West Orange News during the telephone interview. He will be required to undergo five days of chemotherapy before the transplant and will not be allowed to finish his last year of high school at WOHS.
“I can’t go to graduation or prom,” he says. Although disappointed, he says, “It’ll be worth it.” He is hoping school work will be sent to the hospital so he can graduate and make plans for college in the fall.
Looking ahead, Tiernan remains positive and says “In a perfect world cancer will be gone completely; but there’s a slight chance it’ll come back in the future. I’m looking at it positively. I know if it does, I got through it once, I can do it again.”
To purchase a Team Jimmy wristband or donate to the Go Fund Me Page, contact Cooper through the Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/fbqvrh38. Wristbands can also be purchased for $5 at Mark and Julie’s Ice Cream, 476 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange.