Science & Medicine

The unfaithful Mr. Harper.

Betrayed by Chris Harper

– Zhenya

Sorry to break the news, but this roving, deeply committed MPN ambassador from the British Isles is not what he seems.

We thought we owned him exclusively. Even after his stem cell transplant wiped out his myelofibrosis, he continues to work with the MPN community tirelessly. He supports SCT patients despite his occasional health issues. As a constant figure on Facebook, a contributor to the Forum and a roving intercontinental Buddy to MPN patients, how could we not have thought he was exclusively ours?

We were in a committed relationship.

Beyond buddying with SCT patients, Chris writes poems to encourage recovering patients. Here’s one to Marina, the MPN community’s Cheerleadeer Queen, who reached an early transplant milestone when her blood type changed. (She had received her fresh stem cells from a German male donor, nicknamed  Wolfie.)

Wolfie’s taken over

 It’s made Marina’s day

She has achieved the final push

Blood gone from B to A.

Wolfie’s taken over

Marina he has chosen

And when his male genes kick right in

She’ll wear pink lederhosen.

Wolfie now you’re staying

Get ready for some banter

Not from a demur Jersey Lass

But a witty Greek from Atlanta.

Caught in the act

All very nice. But YouTube doesn’t lie and Chris – along with his lovely wife Lesley — was caught in the act.

Here’s how it happened. On a recent mission to a former British Colonie,  Chris was sitting in my North Carolina backyard talking about his experiences at a New York City bone marrow transplant meeting  run by BMT Infonet  “Celebrating a Second Chance at Life.”

The day was warm and windy, the little handycam was running.  And then Chris mentioned something about Tanzania.

“What were you doing in Tanzania?”

“O you know, these people out there are helping out at the Meserani Snake Park and we …”

“Snake what?” I never dreamed snakes would have a park of their own. What next?  Uber car service, time-shared cottages?

“It’s not that kind of thing…” and then Chris mumbled a bit and we went on to talk about his New York City meeting.

 Later on, when I had a chance to Google snake parks in Tanzania and root around a bit, I found this photo in a documentary clip:



Chris and Lesley in Africa
The small documentary itself was absorbing, filled with African scenery, kids, scraps of dialect, huts, and this familiar-looking couple sitting in their Land Rover handing out clothes, collected in England, to these Masai Villagers in Tanzania.

Proud of Chris and Lesley as I was, I couldn’t help feeling betrayed that his charitable impulses were not limited to our MPN community. Ah, well,  we’re an orphan disease right. We’ll take what we can get.

Even if it means  suffering the complications of  an Open Relationship.

Thanks Chris. Thanks Lesley.

Take me back to the Contents

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Comments on: "The unfaithful Mr. Harper." (8)

  1. Cyndy Morreale said:

    When Sam was nearing the end, Chris called me All the way from England with encouragement and caring words – I can’t wait to meet him one day for a tour of “his” England!, it’s on MY bucket list !!!

  2. Bonnie Kaye Evans said:

    I just viewed the whole video and found it beautiful and exciting. Leslie’s smile just said it all. Amazing place and quite large, those crocs in the water were quite active. YIPES. Thanks Chris for Providing the link to the video. It makes me long to go back to Africa.

  3. The above Africa trip was inbetween MF diagnosis and transplant as I wanted to see how the clinic, that I had raised money to help build with a London Marathon in 2008, was progressing. The owners of Snake Park made Lesley and I a small movie to remember the experience by. The first few minutes are a couple of trips we went on and then there follows a tour of Snake park and it components. If you view this you will understand why we love the place.

  4. Chris Harpet said:

    Ma and BJ Bale are the stars here. They bought a piece of scrubland and created a reptile zoo, Snake Park. which has developed into an overland touring truck camp with a Maasai museum, local craft shop, clinic that specialises in snake bite but also has 1000+ Local walk in patients per month, a truck repair shop and a bar, the profits from which are used to fund the clinic; employing circa 100 locals. Wonderful people who do so much for the people since they moved in from South Africa. Love them dearly and will visit again when we can help.

  5. Chris Harpet said:

    Ma and BJ Bale are the very special people who run Snake Park. They turned a piece of scrub land into a zoo, a museum, an overland truck camp, an overland truck garage and a clinic ( funded by the bar and other facilities they offer) that specialises in treating Snake bites and also has 1000+ walk in patients per month from the local Masaai people. They employ circa 100 locals and are loved by all. Very few tourists can go through Meserani Snake Park without leaving part of their heart there with this wonderful couple. We have been twice and will go again when we can be useful. Love them both dearly.

  6. Bonnie Kaye Evans said:

    Chris and Leslie have so many layers which make them beloved by so many. I had no idea about the snake and Masai experience but in a way this does not surprised me. We are ALL someone besides having or being a caregiver of a MPN. Meeting MPN people across the globe is a life changing experience.I can only imagine other MPN patients and their interesting layers of the lives. Come on tell us.

  7. Amen to that, Bonnie.

  8. Chris and Leslie are quite amazing people. It takes very special people to go out of their way to help others, my hat is off to both of them. Not only do they help all of us but also try to help many others along the way. May God Bless both of you.

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