Reporter: Erin Koskovich
Email Address: [email protected]
Posted Monday, March 3, 2008 — 9:30pm
A 23 year old man is fighting for his life–for a second time. Meanwhile, his older brother is taking strides to raise awareness of leukemia. In times of adversity, sometimes it’s hard to see past the immediate crisis, but the McLean family is not letting leukemia slow them down.
Eric and Mike McLean are closer than most brothers. They’ve been through a lot. In 2003, Eric was in severe pain, wasn’t sleeping well, and would black out randomly. “We knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know what and the doctors couldn’t tell us and about a month later, we went and they took blood,” explained Eric.
Eric was diagnosed with Leukemia after his freshman year of college. “They dropped the bomb on me so to speak and I seriously thought my life was over,” Eric said.
However, Eric and his family refused to let leukemia win. His brother, Mike, is an avid athlete and decided to turn this family trial into a way to come alongside his brother and do something positive. “You know a lot of people do athletic events for fundraisers, why not turn this into one,” explained Mike.
Mike started to train for the Ironman and raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Mike felt he had to do something to put a positive spin on Eric’s diagnosis, so he began to raise awareness about leukemia through the Ironman. “I love him a lot and I think this was a huge mental support for him. I think through all of it this was something he could fall back on and realize that was another reason he should keep fighting really hard,” Mike explained.
Eric did fight through and he beat leukemia. He went back to college and graduated in December. Then he got a job with Harley Davidson in Milwaukee, bought a new car, and moved to New Berlin. “Everything seemed to be going right for me,” said Eric.
Just when things seemed to be looking up for Eric, a phone call dropped another bombshell. “It was my doctor in Milwaukee and he said I needed to get there right away that my Leukemia had come back,” said Eric.
So this team of brothers is fighting once again. “He’s beat it once before so we’ve all kind of got the mindset that he can beat it again,” said Mike.
While Eric goes the distance with treatments, Mike is training for the Ironman and raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at the same time. “When I’m putting in those miles like, it hurts, but I just get that image of him sitting in that hospital bed, getting chemicals pumped into him, trying to get through it and it’s just like go!,” Mike said with motivation.
Eric says Mike’s training and all his efforts to raise awareness do help him through all the treatments. Although he is not looking forward to the treatments and transplant process, he knows it’s necessary. “I’m looking forward to being healthy again. It’s going to be a ways down the road but it’s a long fight, a hard fight, and this time I know what I have to go up against, so it’s very scary, but I’ll get there,” reassured Eric.
The entire McLean family has pulled together. Mike was the bone marrow donor for Eric about 4 years ago. This time Eric’s younger sister will be the donor. If you’d like to read more about Eric’s bouts with Leukemia, or if you’d like to make a donation to Mike’s Ironman Fundraiser For Eric (L.I.F.E.) just log onto: