PEASLEEVILLE - When Jennifer Ano-Ryba's brother, Au Sable Forks native Roy Ano, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, it was something that came completely out of left field.
"It was just such a shock," she recalled. "He just didn't feel good, so he went in for some blood tests and it wasn't until he pressured for more tests that they found it."
Doctors found what Ano-Ryba described as an "aggressive growing leukemia" and immediately took action, she said.
"He was told he had it and within a few hours he was an in-patient at Fletcher Allen [HealthCare]," she said. "By noon the next day, he was on chemotherapy."
The 55-year-old Ano - a counselor at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora for more than 20 years - underwent seven days of treatments, some days being 24 hours a day, said Ano-Ryba. According to a bone marrow test, the treatments have apparently eradicated her brother's cancer, but have left his immune system virtually nonexistent while his body recovers.
"It looks like the cancer is gone, but now he's battling pneumonia and infections that have set in," Ano-Ryba said.
The next month will involve Ano staying in a sterile room at the Burlington hospital while he immune system rebuilds, said his sister. Having limited contact has been tough on him and the family, she said, but overall, Ano's demeanor has been good.
"He's trying to stay as upbeat as possible," said Ano-Ryba.
Ano's family organized a benefit at American Legion Post 504 in Au Sable Forks Feb. 12, which helped raise awareness for his condition and money to help his family.
"We had a good turnout," said Ano-Ryba, who noted her brother couldn't be there for the benefit as he was and still is a patient at Fletcher Allen. "We had a lot of support from the community."
The benefit saw more than 250 michigan meals served and several items auctioned off donated by local businesses and individuals, said Ano-Ryba. Overall, more than $5,000 was raised for Ano and his family, she added.
"Overall, we did really well," said Ano-Ryba.
Proceeds will now go toward helping Ano and his wife, Laurie, with expenses incurred in relation to his treatments. The couple have three children - Cordell, Casey and Corey.
Those who were unable to attend the benefit but who would still like to help the Ano family may send donations in care of Roy Ano to 15 Baxter St., Chazy N.Y. 12921.
What to know about acute myeloid leukemia
According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, approximately 12,330 Americans were expected to be diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last year.
Though the chance of getting the disease increases with age, children and adults of any age can develop AML. Approximately one in five children with leukemia has AML.
Signs and symptoms include tiredness or no energy, shortness of breath during physical activity, pale skin, swollen gums, slow healing of cuts, pinhead-size red spots under the skin, prolonged bleeding from minor cuts, mild fever, black-and-blue marks (bruises) with no clear cause, and aches in bones or knees, hips or shoulder.
For more information visit www.leukemia-lymphoma.org or consult your doctor.