Does multiple myeloma run in families? Most experts say no.
Tell that to the Martin family. Reader Larry Martin emailed me a week ago to share that his younger brother, Lee, died April 30th from complications associated with his multiple myeloma.
Larry wrote how his brother had been able to work and spend time with his family for most of the nine years since his diagnosis.
After reading a lot about his life, it sounds like Lee was a wonderful guy. I would have liked to have met him. I will share more about his life in a moment.
In the meantime, something Larry wrote–almost as an afterthought–caught my eye. Apparently, Lee is the third member of the Martin family to die from multiple myeloma during the past fifteen years.
As it turns out, the Martin Family is quite large. His mother had nine brothers and sisters, and they had 24 children.
Coincidence? Maybe. But 3 out of 34 is definitely a statistical anomaly–and a horrible myeloma cross to bear.
Could there be an environmental factor? Possibly. But most myeloma experts are still reluctant to assign blame. Multiple myeloma is considered to be a “random” disorder. Sort of like winning the cancer lottery in reverse.
I feel for Lee and the Martin family. Three myeloma related deaths in fifteen years. I’m so, so sorry, Larry!
But let’s not let any of this overshadow the story of Lee’s life! Larry was kind enough to provide me with some highlights he thought I might be interested in, along with this picture of Lee.
Larry never intended for me to publish any of this. He was privately reaching out to me. He wanted me to know how special his brother was. But I persuaded the family to allow me to write about Lee. Sounds like he was a pretty special guy!
Here’s what Larry had to say about his brother:
For several years Lee was a realtor. Prior to that, he had a 30 year career in television sports, including 14 years working with the Dallas Cowboys. Some of the highlights of his sports career:
Lee did the first instant replay in television sports. This was during his show Dallas Cowboys Weekly, with Tex Schramm, Cowboys General Manager, as his co-host.
Lee brought Fantasy Football to television.
When ESPN began, Lee produced six original shows each week for the new network. In addition, most shows were broadcast multiple times during the week.
Lee was very blessed to have nine years. During the past three years, he was present for the marriage of his son, the birth of a grandson and the grandson’s first birthday. During the illness, Lee had two autologous stem cell transplants and two back surgeries (for four compression fractures which occurred before his multiple myeloma was diagnosed). He was in remission 14 months following the first transplant, and 30 months following the second.
Of course I never met Lee. But after exchanging emails with Larry, I feel surprisingly close to him. In his first email to me, Larry wrote this:
“Lee had several interests in common with you, including real estate, communications, sports, and of course multiple myeloma.”
There are quite a few commonalities here. All I know is that I feel fortunate to have learned more about Lee’s life and death.
Let me close with a short excerpt from an article that the Dallas Morning News ran about Lee on May 7th:
Lee Martin, the man behind numerous ’80s Cowboys TV productions, dies
Lee Martin, a giant in local television sports production, died April 30 in his native Kentucky.
Martin’s son Mike, passed on the sad news this morning. Mike said his father lost a lingering battled to bone marrow cancer. He was 64.
Lee Martin was the sports anchor at Channel 4 from 1977-1979. Soon after he left Channel 4, he started Lee Martin Productions.
Dallas Cowboys Weekly show from 1980-1989. His company for years also produced the Tom Landry Show. In 1986, it offered the Cowboys “Ticket To Training Camp,” daily live broadcasts from training camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The company also worked with WCCW and the Von Erich family in the 1980s. From 1992-1994, Martin also hosted Sunday Night Showtime which aired first on Channel 4 and then Channel 11. It featured sports talk and music. Among the regulars who joined Martin were were Randy Galloway and Jim Dent.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Larry, his son, Mike, and all of the Martin Family.