Larry and Diane Wood met in the small town of Lowville, NY near Watertown, and knew from an early age they were going to get married someday. On September 15th, 1984 that day finally came and they celebrated with friends and family in the church they grew up in. A couple years into their marriage, they started the tradition of a pizza dinner on their anniversary to honor the pizza they shared on their wedding night after a hectic event. Fast-forward 39 years later and they spent their anniversary at Kevin Guest House while Larry was receiving treatment at Roswell. One caring volunteer at Kevin Guest House made sure that tradition continued that 39th year and bought the couple a pizza to celebrate!
Larry spent his early career in the Navy and after 11 years of service he left when he became a father. Diane and Larry have two girls, Tori and Traci. They soon became his world, and he was able to work closer to home and spent his career in IT Tech/Environmental Controls in a Power Plant.
Family is everything to Larry and Diane, with many family members still living in Lowville. In February of 2023, a first wave of heartache hit when Larry’s father passed away. Just a few days later Larry first noticed pain in his lower spine, hips & pelvis. At first, Larry dismissed his symptoms, blaming his age, weight, and having an active job and lifestyle. He soon realized the symptoms were more serious when he started having spasms that left him stranded on the floor. Thanks to emergency responders, he was able to make it to the nearby hospital.
Larry received the devastating diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, a cancer that forms in a plasma cell within the white blood cells. There is no cure. This was hard news for everyone but especially his mother. After the loss of her husband, Larry just wanted to heal so the weight of her son’s illness is lifted off her heart.
Larry and Diane stayed at Kevin Guest House for almost two weeks when he received a stem cell transplant from Roswell Park. Larry was one of the lucky ones to receive the type of stem cell transplant we refer to as an AUTO patient. Auto stands for an autologous stem cell transplant which uses healthy blood stem cells from your own body to replace bone marrow that’s not working properly. An autologous stem cell transplant is also called an autologous bone marrow transplant. When you receive an auto transplant your body is not as immune compromised and able to resume a more normal routine than those that receive stem cells from a stranger and these patients typically stay post transplant an average of two to four weeks. Though it meant weeks away from home in an unfamiliar town, he is very grateful for the treatment available at Roswell.
Knowing a friend had also had a stem cell transplant 12 years ago and has led a very full and healthy life since then. Larry is very hopeful for the same lease on life, he is looking forward to spending more time with his daughters Tori, who is now 34 and is married with a 12-year-old stepson, and Traci who is now 32 and her daughter Chole who is 15 months old!
The Woods also look forward to enjoying some of their favorite pastimes that include spending time at their family land – camping, riding 4 wheelers, and “putzing around” as Larry playfully defined his work around the property. Larry also has a passion for reading, woodworking & tinkering with his vehicles.
Testimony from Diane Wood:
“When your life is turned upside down you are so nervous about the unknown. Once we arrived at Kevin Guest House our experience was wonderful!
The house perfectly meets our current needs – the size, the proximity to Roswell Park and all the amenities that make it easy to be away from home. I can’t believe there is a washer and dryer! I didn’t even have to go to a laundromat. The meals donated by generous volunteers were such a huge help when we couldn’t get out to a store and needed to save money by not going out to restaurants.
Larry and I loved taking walks around the neighborhood, being from a small-town Buffalo was a new experience for us. We felt safe and getting out into the fresh air was a needed break. We also spent a lot of time on the front porch enjoying the view to pass the time.
Kevin Guest House is perfect for everyone that needs to travel for medical care, they have space for families of all sizes!”