Mel was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in January 1995 and given three years to live. The only possible hope for survival was a bone marrow transplant. Despite numerous marrow drives and adding thousands of people to the marrow registry, he never found a donor. Three years after diagnosis, he entered the phase 1 clinical trial of Gleevec (imatinib) at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Over twenty years later, he is their longest living Gleevec patient.