By Tom Szieber
Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 11:00 am
Dan Exter -- a then 27-year-old digital producer in the sports media industry, covering high school sports throughout New Jersey -- was fit. He was athletic. He was active.
Yet, back in early 2013, for a reason he could not at the time identify, he was constantly out of breath.
“I was in good shape, active in hoops leagues, running 5Ks and I didn’t smoke,” Exter recalled. “I was feeling this odd sensation. I couldn’t take a satisfying, deep breath. My general doctor attributed to asthma maybe.”
As it turned out, it wasn’t asthma, it was acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and it was extremely serious. It was also the start of a journey that would lead him to a venture meant to help others fight cancer, and to a deeper fondness for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Once Exter’s shortness of breath became too difficult to bear, he went to see a pulmomologist. He underwent tests on July 12, 2013, and was instructed to go to the lab and get some blood work done. The next day, his phone was ringing off the hook, and Exter was told to go to the hospital immediately.
“My white blood count was extremely high, and my platelets were extremely low,” he remembered. “So I went to the hospital, and they did some more blood work. I was later rushed to emergency.”
Exter was diagnosed with ALL, and also had a genetic mutation known as a “Philadelphia Chromosome.” He was fortunate, as he was able to get a T-cell depleted transfusion over Thanksgiving 2013, as his brother Jason was a perfect match. He also underwent full body radiation and chemotherapy.
The exhausting experience prompted Exter to find a way to help in the fight against the deadly disease. He chose to use his passion, the game of basketball, as a vehicle, and founded Layups for Life.
The event is a one-day hoops tourney at Exter’s alma mater, Roxbury High School, featuring 3-on-3 basketball for players of all skill levels. Each registrant pays $25 to play, and all the money raised is donated to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center.
The event will feature a DJ from Ninety Three Entertainment, as well as raffles, a 50/50, contests and prizes. There will be food available for purchase on event day.
If you’d like information on how to participate or sponsor the event, visit http://www.layups4life.org. You can also make tax-deductible donations through the organization's web site.
Tom Szieber can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.