Mary Webb graduated from Xavier University in 1996 and set out to become a writer, never dreaming of the incredible story she would tell nearly two decades later. Her recently published book, “The Summer of Superheroes and the Making of Iron Boy,” is the story of her son’s battle with a type of blood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia and the cure that came from his newborn sister.
Both healthy and happy, Quentin Murray, 11, and his sister, Jory Murray, 6, will walk the fashion show runway at the annual Ladies Leukemia League luncheon, “Fête de Noël,” on Dec. 5 at the Hilton Riverside. Doors open at 10:30 a.m., the Dillard’s fashion show starts at 12:30 p.m. and the luncheon follows at 1 p.m. in the grand ballroom.
Quentin is president of the Children’s Leukemia League, and this will be his fourth fashion show appearance, Webb said. He hopes to raise $10,000 for cancer research.
During the past 45 years, the Ladies Leukemia League has raised more than $3 million for research grants, league spokesperson Joan Ingram said. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the luncheon, Ingram said. It is a “premier event of the holiday season.”
Quentin was 4 when he was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2007. In March 2008, a bone marrow transplant saved his life. The donor was his newborn sister, Jory, and the miracle was magnified by the fact that she was “an unexpected birth,” Webb said.
One of seven children, and a twin, Webb said she planned to have one child. “Now I can’t imagine Jory not being here.”
Before searching the national registry for a bone marrow donor, Quentin’s doctor decided to wait until Jory was born in December 2007 to determine whether she was a match. Transplant matches in siblings occur only 25 percent of the time, Webb said, and it’s extremely rare to find a girl-to-boy or boy-to-girl match.
Jory was the most perfect match possible, Webb said. Doctors said it was “the equivalent of winning the lottery.”
Quentin and Jory are close siblings and very much brother and sister, Webb said. “She’s very protective of him, but on the rare occasion that they argue, she tells him, ‘I’m going to take my blood back.’?”
Quentin and Jory are students at Lafayette Academy Charter School, where Webb, 40, works as an English instructor and writing coach.
“People kept telling me to write a book about our experience,” Webb said. “It was so phenomenal the way it worked out.”
Emails Webb wrote about her family’s journey had family and friends “crying and laughing,” she said. She used them as the basis of the book, which was published in 2013. For information, visit www.ironmommy.webs.com.
For “Fête de Noël” reservations, call Rosalie Edwards at (504) 466-8875.
Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.