Photo by Jessica Giles
The Gorman family of Waccabuc is testament to the power of positive thinking. In 2007, an otherwise healthy 43-year-old Peter Gorman was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and given a 25-percent chance of survival. “Up until that moment, he was in great shape,” his wife Deb says. “This totally unexpected diagnosis turned our world upside down.”
Acute cancers move quickly and the first step was to get Peter in remission, which required a grueling 30-day regimen of chemo in an isolation unit at Columbia Presbyterian. A stem cell transplant was the second step. Peter’s entire family got tested, and his older brother, Bill, turned out to be the best match. “Our son, Jack, wondered if his daddy would become shorter and grumpier after getting Uncle Bill’s stem cells,” Deb recalls. While that didn’t happen, after the transplant, Peter’s blood type converted from A+ to B+, his brother’s blood type.
“My sister Ann thought ‘be positive’ should become the family’s mantra, and one thing led to another,” Peter says. That “thing” turned out to be a winsome collection of jewelry and T-shirts all carrying the B+ message (available at O2 Living, 6 Yellow Monkey Village, Cross River 914-763-6320, O2living.me or online at bpositiveshop.com) designed by Deb, a former kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom of three.
“I have no background in designing jewelry, but it just comes naturally to me—it must be my calling,” Deb says, noting that while it’s very rewarding work, her “tennis game is going down the tubes.” Profits ($15,000 so far this year) go to the Stem Cell/Bone Marrow Transplant Programs at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where Peter had his treatment. “We wanted some way to give back and ease the next family’s cancer journey,” Deb says.
Ending fittingly on a positive note: Peter celebrated his “third” birthday August 30.