Alex's Coupons

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Update on Alex's Fight Against Leukemia

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Tuesday February 1, 2005

To Whom It May Concern,

Alex at Diagnosis - 11/10/98I think the story of my family and our company Alex's Coupons would make a great show. Our company Alex's Coupons is based in Gig Harbor WA and since 2001 we've been providing shoppers with online coupons and deals that can be used at nearly a thousand online stores. At the same time we've also been providing our visitors with information on Childhood Cancer.

Alex's Coupons evolved from two different sites that I created. The first site (Alex's Place) was started on January 10, 1998, the day my daughter Alexandra was born. Initially the site was simply a place to post photos of Alex so friends and family could see them. That all changed on November 10, 1998 when Alex was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. At that time Alex's Place became a site to not only keep friends and family apprised of Alex's fight against Leukemia, but also to educate people about Childhood Cancer.

On September 30, 1999 after seven months of remission, Alex relapsed for the first time. We immediately relocated to Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, so Alex could undergo a lifesaving Cord Blood Transplant. During that time our financial situation was very precarious. Even with many donations from friends, families, strangers and aid organizations, we spent the bulk of our savings in the four months that we were there. At the suggestion of a friend I started a second site, Affiliates for Alex, a collection of affiliate links designed to bring in some much needed income for my family. I also became interested in "coupon shopping", for the obvious reason that we didn't have much money to spend! Overall Affiliates for Alex raised about $400 for us, at a time when every dollar counted.

October 1999 to August 2001
Alex Before Her 1st Transplant - 10/18/99 Alex & Todd - Christmas 1999 Alex's 1st Snow - January 2000 Alex's During 2nd Relapse - June 2000

August 2000 Halloween 2000 July 2001 Andrea & Alex in Florence - August 2001

From August 2000 to September 2001 Alex was in remission and off treatment, so Affiliates for Alex became an afterthought. Then on September 10, 2001 Alex relapsed with a Chloroma (tumor) in her eye socket. Over the next 18 months we were hit with a series of other misfortunes including:

  • The near collapse of my business after the 9/11 attacks. I run a web design business that worked on several local and state government projects. The majority of these projects were canceled in the days after 9/11.
     
  • Alex relapsing four more times with her remission time decreasing each time. These relapses and subsequent treatments resulted in several long term hospital stays. (Note: You may notice that Alex had hair during this time. Alex was treated with Mylotarg, a targeted chemo, which doesn't result in hair loss)
     
  • The 14-week premature birth of my son Nicholas (he was 13" long and 1 lb, 9 oz) on 12/13/02 (Friday the 13th if you can believe it!)
     
  • My wife Andrea developing a serious staph infection from the C-Section that left her near death in the ICU at Tacoma General, while my son Nick was in the NICU at the same hospital, and my daughter Alex was in-patient at Children's Seattle.

September 2001 to November 2002
Targeted Radiation - October 2001 November 2001 Alex's 4th Relapse - January 2002 Family Portrait - Easter 2002

Alex's 5th Relapse - July 2002 September 2002 October 2002 Alex's 6th Relapse - November 2002

Nick - December 2002
Nicholas Ryan Martini First Touch He's Got My Nose!

Me and my Dad asleep at last

Thankfully all three of them recovered! By March 2003 Andrea and Nicholas were healthy enough to fly with Alex and I back to Duke, so Alex could undergo her second Cord Blood Transplant. Her second transplant took place on April 1, 2003 (yes April Fools Day!) and while she had several setbacks including Cyclosporine Toxicity and Grand Mal seizures, she is now almost 22 months post-transplant and doing incredibly well. Aside from cataract surgery on one eye (the result of the targeted radiation for her Chloroma) and continued medication for seizures, she is a normal 7 year old.

March 2003
Our Beautiful Kids Our Beautiful Kids Our Beautiful Kids

April 2003
She has hair! She's even beautiful bald! Alex & Dr. Paul

May 2003
Alex & Nurse AndriaAlex & Nick
Taking a Nap Alex & Nick Hanging Out

Yawn! C'mon Dad Wake Up! Smile

June 2003 to December 2003
Hanging out at the Duck Pond Getting Ready to Crawl! Cuddling w/ Moose Dog! She loves her baby brother

Happy Boy Hanging out w/ Pop Pop Nicholas - Today! My Big Girl

January 2004 to Present
Alice & Alex What? Beautiful Girl - 2/4/04 Alex & Congressman Patrick Kennedy

Hangin' out in the hammock Last Day @ Camp Agape

While all of this was occurring I still had to pay the bills, so in October 2001 I launched Alex's Coupons. Over the last 3+ years Alex's Coupons has grown from a small site providing a little bit of extra income to being the primary source of income for my family. We're currently averaging between $150,000-$175,000 in sales each month and we're netting $8000-$10,000/month in commissions. The success of Alex's Coupons has obviously far exceeded my expectations.

Early on I made the decision to provide information on Childhood Cancer along with the coupons. I did this for the following reasons:

1) To educate people, that might not be looking for Cancer Resources, to the growing number of Childhood Cancer cases over the past ten years particularly in California where we were living when Alex was diagnosed. Since 1973, the incidence of childhood cancer in California has increased nearly 11% while adult cancer has decreased nationwide. Each childhood cancer death results in an average of 60 years of life lost, compared to 15 per adult cancer death. About 12 percent of all male and 13 percent of all female deaths in children under age 15 are cancer-related, totaling over 13,000 years of lost life. (Source: California Cancer Registry)

2) To educate people about the insufficient funding for Childhood Cancer research. The present budget for Childhood Cancer is 1/5 that of the budget for Pediatric AIDS. Pediatric AIDS killed approximately 100 children in the United States in 1999. Childhood Cancer killed over 5000 children in 1999. Sadly, more than 60% of the American public knows little, if anything, about pediatric cancer. (Source: The Foundation for the Children's Oncology Group)

3) To educate people about the fact that while we have made great strides in treating some Childhood Cancers (e.g. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia - 78% survival rate), we have made less progress in treating others (e.g. AML - ~40% survival rate). More funding is needed to develop treatments for those with often fatal Cancers like AML and Neuroblastoma.

In addition to Alex's Coupons, we are also very involved in activism and fundraising on behalf of Cancer Support Groups and Organizations including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, NCCF, NCCS, Candlelighters, Starlight * Starbright, and Corporate Angel Network. Twice over the past 4 years we've gone to Washington DC (once on behalf of NCCF and once on behalf of LLS) to lobby for increased funding for Cancer Research. During those visits we have met with Senator Maria Cantwell and Congressmen Norm Dicks, and my wife Andrea has testified before a congressional sub-committee on Childhood Cancer.

We are also very involved in providing support to the dozens of families who have contacted us over the years asking for help with treatment options, financial aid, and emotional support. We feel it's both a duty and a privilege to help other families who are dealing with the same situations we've dealt with over the past six years. Many of these families have become our closest friends and we remain in contact with almost all of them.

In closing I would just like to thank you for your consideration. Please visit Alex's Place if you'd like to read more about Alex and the rest of our family. There are updates on the site going back as far as Alex's first transplant in October 1999. You can reach me at (253) 858-6005 if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Todd, Andrea, Alexandra & Nicholas Martini

P.S. Alex was recently featured in our local paper, the Peninsula Gateway. An abbreviated version of the article can be found here.
 

 

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