VIRGINIA — Peggy and Glenn Patrick’s son, a Virginia High School graduate, is “a happy man” despite living with a rare blood cancer that drains his energy, causes extra sensitivity to cold and many other difficult symptoms.
“He believes every day is a gift,” Peggy Patrick said of the 47-year-old, who is a father himself and lives out of state in a more temperate climate.
Her son’s positivity — and the need for continued research on his form of cancer, believed to be massively under-diagnosed — led Patrick to devise a way to gift the MPN Research Foundation with much-required funding.
And — to offer the community a chance to purchase rather one-of-a-kind gifts (for others, or themselves).
Patrick has set up a fundraiser for the foundation in the form of an “upscale rummage sale,” being dubbed a “treasure sale.” It will begin with a four-day event from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 9 to 12 at the former Skoog’s Bootery, 323 Chestnut St., in Virginia.
The Patricks have owned the building, which in part housed the Bootery and Glenn’s upstairs GAP Engineering, for more than 22 years. When the shoe store became vacant after Dee and Les Skoog retired last fall following 47 years of owning the Bootery, Patrick began tossing around ideas of how she could use the space to do good in the community.
She started displaying the works of local artisans in the large, storefront windows, and last month helped area crafters by holding a crafting fair that also raised awareness of the group of cancers known as MPN — Myeloproliferative Neoplasms.
MPN is classified as “blood cancer” because it causes uncontrolled growth of blood cells created in the bone marrow. Essentially, Patrick said, her son produces “too much blood.”
Patrick has since been filling the store with “treasures” donated by the public for the MPN fundraising sales. The treasure sales will continue during the summer on Tuesdays and Saturdays through the end of July. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Patrick also plans to hold some sales in the fall.
She has been meticulously cleaning, organizing and displaying sale items in a “department store” fashion. The former shoe store, a Virginia mainstay since the 1930s, is, after all, set up for showcasing pieces.
She received some things secondhand from the Virginia Elks Club’s rummage sale, along with generous donations of original art — and just about everything else.
Treasures include collectible and Cabbage Patch dolls to live animal traps to special pieces, such as a vintage sewing machine.
Clothing, which has been washed and ironed, is organized by size and color, and separated into men’s and women’s departments. There are shirts, pants, robes, pajamas, shoes, scarves, purses, jackets and coats, dresses and an array of jewelry.
Additional items for sale include toys, books and games, sporting goods, kitchen and baking wares, cookbooks, and a large selection of art pieces, vases, collectables and glassware.
Patrick said every penny raised will go to the MPN Research Foundation. Others throughout the country have held fundraising events, such as walks, but this is the only rummage sale benefit known to the foundation.
There are three types of MPN cancers. Patrick’s son has the most common form known as Essential Thrombocythemia (ET), in which the bone marrow makes too many platelet-forming cells, which release too many platelets into the bloodstream. Platelets don’t function properly, which can cause excessive bleeding or thrombosis — a blood clot inside a blood vessel that obstructs blood flow.
The uncontrolled proliferation of blood cells can be fatal, but the chronic disease can be managed for many years with treatments. Some people have lived for 20 years with MPN, Patrick said.
The mom said that with continued research, she hopes her son will have even better odds.
According to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute, the high range estimate is that about 20,000 people develop an MPN each year and there are roughly 295,000 people living with an MPN in the United States. But MPNs are also believed to be hugely under-diagnosed.
Patrick said it was some time before her son was diagnosed with MPN about five to six years ago. His initial symptoms included extreme headaches. In addition to other treatments, he undergoes phlebotomies to remove excess blood, as well as iron infusions.
“He has to rest a lot,” and often practices yoga, she added.
Patrick’s work to raise awareness of MPN has already affiliated her with a few local individuals who also have connections to the cancer.
Patrick added that she’s been blessed with much assistance while planning the sales. “I have many wonderful volunteers helping me.”
They include her friend, Carol Sundquist, who has been promoting the fundraisers as her unofficial “marketing director;” and Jerry and Paulette Pfemmer, and Linda Bozich, who have lent a hand with pricing items.
And, Patrick has gained many new friends — to boot.
“I’ve met tons of wonderful people,” she said.