Community unites to help neighbor battling leukemia

August 9, 2012 3:32:07 PM PDT
A Wake Forest man is in need of a stem cell transplant. Tolis Demertzis was diagnosed with leukemia last year, and beat it months later, only to have it return in July.

His neighbors in the Sedgefield Park Community are showing their support by organizing a bake sale, knowing that his family faces a tough road ahead.

"We just see Tolis and Heidi coming and going, going to the hospital for treatment, knowing what they're going through we just wanted to do something to help out financially and show some support for them," neighbor Shannon Blalock said.

The business community is contributing to Saturday's sale as well by donating gift cards and items for neighbors to raffle off. Neighbors also plan to hold a registration for, hoping to find Tolis' match for a stem cell transplant.

The organization is the same one promoted by Good Morning America's Robin Roberts after she was diagnosed with a blood disease following breast cancer treatment.

Roberts told the world she is lucky because her sister is a match and she will undergo the transplant very soon.

Effie Demertzis is Tolis' sister and has been one of his biggest cheerleaders in his fight against the disease.

"I think it was harder the second time around because we really thought his body was strong enough to beat it we really had let our guards down and thought that was it, the worst was behind us," Effie said.

But Effie and her other brother were not a match for Tolis, and that is why the drive is so important to find a donor. Tolis is 100 percent Greek, and doctors have told him he has a better chance of finding a match with someone who is Greek or Mediterranean descent.

The family will host a second registration drive on Sunday at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in the 5000 block of Lead Mine Road in Raleigh.

"We figure if we can flood the registry with as many people as we can maybe there will be somebody out there for him, not only him but there are so many people out there that need these transplants," Effie said.

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