Local writer battles disease usually found in kids

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- As a newspaper columnist, Doug Fernandes uses his biting wit to dissect sports events for the Herald Tribune. But he is now using that sense of humor to fight a battle he never expected to be in.

The Suncoast is used to seeing Doug Fernandes as a byline and picture topping a column or high school football story. But for the past 3 months, his creative juices just haven't been flowing. "I don't feel good. Writing is a creative process and you would like to feel good."

He has not been writing, or feeling good, because three months ago he thought he had bronchitis. So he went to the doctor only to find out it was something far worse. “Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is usually found in kids. Having it as an adult makes it more problematic."

He is in the midst of chemotherapy, and when that is complete he will need a bone marrow transplant. “Me and thousands of people around the country, and you need a bone marrow donor. Get on the website, bethematch.com. It’s easy, it’s painless, and as you know, you may be saving a life."

For now, Fernandes passes his days trying to gear up for the next round of chemo and using his reporting skills to find out more than he ever wanted to about leukemia. "I didn't know much, but now I feel like I am an expert on something I never expected to need to be an expert on."

As a reporter, you never want to be the story, but leukemia has a way of changing all that. “I'd rather cover the story. This is not fun."