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Friends and family held a fundraiser to help Godfrey with expenses related to her battle against leukemia. / Kinfay Moroti/news-press.com

About acute myeloid leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia starts in the bone marrow, the soft inner parts of bones. Bone marrow cells don’t mature correctly and the immature cells just keep building up.

Without treatment, AML can quickly be fatal. Because it’s “acute,” it can spread quickly to the blood and other parts of the body.

Where to donate

An account for Melissa Godfrey has been set up at Sanibel-Captiva Bank, 472-6100.
Next event For Melissa
May 28, 5 to 9 p.m. at Key West Bar & Grill, Gulf Coast Town Center, South Fort Myers

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Melissa and Dave Godfrey were married April 13 and thought that her bout with fatigue days later was just a byproduct of the wedding celebration.

A trip to the doctor for Melissa Godfrey, 33, gave those symptoms a lot more weight — a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia.

“My mom told her to get an appointment with her ob-gyn, Dr. Diana Devall,” Dave Godfrey said. “That saved her life.”

Melissa Godfrey said that the diagnosis was one that was never in the picture. “My mom and I were sitting in the emergency room and joking about what the diagnosis could be,” she said from her room at Lee Memorial.

She said the room fell silent when the doctor explained the disease. “It has been a whirlwind since then,” she added.

The problems facing the Iona couple were just starting with the diagnosis.

The waitress had canceled her health insurance a few weeks before while waiting for her husband to pass through a probationary period at a new job.

“We thought ‘we’re both young and healthy,’ ” Dave Godfrey, 44, said. “What could go wrong?”

Since April 24th she has been in the hospital for more than three weeks and has undergone blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, two bone marrow treatments and, most recently, seven days of chemotherapy.

A benefit Sunday pulled together family, friends, and neighbors to raise money for the couple, who are likely to face medical bills in the hundreds of thousands.

Although now in remission, but still at Lee Memorial, Melissa Godfrey faces an undetermined period of chemotherapy and other treatments. Her husband said initially she is looking at five days a month of chemotherapy for the next two years.

“We’ve defeated the first bout with chemo,” Dave Godfrey said. “We had looked on Google and the odds are against us. So we put the computer down.”

“I feel really good today,” she said. “But I have had some really bad days. It’s up and down.”

Dave Godfrey was awed at the response at Sunday’s benefit at the home of Kirk and Kelly Beck off McGregor Boulevard.

“It is humbling to see this,” he said. “Our strength wouldn’t be there without the community. It changes your life in such a positive way.”

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Melissa Godfrey was equally astonished. “I’m just so overwhelmed at how big a deal it is. It is just so surreal.”

The benefit, which included a cookout, blood drive, children’s games, music and raffles, raised $16,095.

Beck, a local developer, said he and his wife met Melissa at Citrola’s restaurant. “She’s a great girl,” he said. “We thought it was time to do something instead of talking about it.

He was quick, however, to give a lot of credit to a group of women, friends of Melisssa’s, who organized the event strictly because they couldn’t stand to see a friend in trouble.

“She’s an amazing person,” said Stephanie See of Fort Myers, a childhood and school pal. “She’s an incredible human being who doesn’t deserve this.”

Angie Marsh, a family friend, said the help was given without a second thought. “You feel helpless. This is the only thing we can do to give them some peace of mind.”

The growing circle of friends helping have pitched in after watching Dave Godfrey take up the slack of his wife’s absence with the house and her children, Ryan, 9, and Madilyn, 7.

“He does a lot of very special things for her,” said Julie Adams, another of Melissa Godfrey’s gal pals, including planning date night at the hospital and being there every night.

“I’ve gotten an education,” he said. “I know what all the drugs (do) and can tell which ones are going to make her sick or give her problems.”

Connect with this reporter: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook) @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter)

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