August 18, 2012
TALLAHASSEE — Jimbo Fisher‘s players gave him the perfect way to sum up a monumental shift in his life.
“They say it all the time … ‘YOLO,’ right? ‘You only live once,'” Fisher, Florida State‘s 46-year-old coach, said to a room of mostly young reporters who erupted in laughter when he name-dropped a popular hip hop anthem.
Instantly, the comment went viral.
“Did Jimbo Fisher really just say ‘YOLO’ in a news conference?” curious outsiders inquired on Twitter.
Yes, YOLO. It’s an acronym made popular by the 2011 chart-topping song “The Motto,” performed by hip hop artist Drake.
“You only live once, that’s the motto … YOLO, and we ’bout it every day, every day, every day,” Drake croons during the song’s catchy hook.
While Drake may have written those words to celebrate his wealth and excess, they have held a much deeper meaning for Fisher.
They have become a new way of life.
Fisher’s 7-year-old son, Ethan, is one of them. He’s also one of two people in Tallahassee living with the disease that slowly cripples a person’s bone marrow and platelet levels, which can trigger various forms of cancer and other life-threatening complications. With the disease, Ethan Fisher now has an estimated 29-year lifespan.
The Fishers have joined others throughout the nation searching for a cure.
As it now stands, Fanconi anemia has no true fix. Bone marrow transplants, medications and radiation treatments can delay and stunt the effects of the disorder, extending the life of patients, but there is no way to completely rid a person of its deadly long-term effects.
Thanks to Kidz1stFund’s partnership with the national Be The Match bone marrow registry, the Fishers also added 1,710 new names to the database of people willing to donate bone marrow to those in need. The newcomers included one person who has already provided bone marrow that saved a young cancer victim’s life. Additionally, Kidz1stFund’s bone marrow drives have registered more than 900 minorities, helping offset critically low numbers of registered minority donors, Candi Fisher said.
Bone marrow transplants can provide life-saving support for people suffering from at least 71 different diseases.
When speaking about an older Fanconi survivor, she unintentionally emphasizes that Ethan will get his transplant at the same Minnesota hospital he received his transplant. Doctors believe Ethan is about a year-and-a-half to three-and-a-half years shy of needing a bone marrow transplant.
He currently has no bone marrow donor match for a transplant. No one in the Fisher family is eligible to help extend his life.
Christopher Byrd didn’t have a relative who was a match, either.
But when his bone marrow readings began to slip 12 years ago, an unrelated donor became a match and provided his life-altering transplant.
Byrd is now 30, surpassing previous Fanconi anemia life projections by more than six years. The Orlando native, UCF graduate and attorney, currently lives in Tallahassee and has been active supporting organizations searching for a cure to the disorder