On a sunny North Carolina day in August 2001, I received the call saying “we have a confirmed diagnosis; T-Cell Lymphoma”. I was a young, single mom, faced with the word CANCER. I remember actually feeling relieved; finally having a diagnosis after years of inconclusive tests and various chemotherapies and radiations. I was hopeful this meant light at the end of the tunnel. At least now they knew what it was! My assumption was they should know how to treat it, FIX me. I was so wrong!
Little did I know that T-Cell Lymphoma was a very rare form of blood cancer and there would be many dark days and years ahead. This led to a lot of chemotherapy and radiation. After many years of gaining no ground, doctors in NC and Iowa came to the end of their options. Talk about hell and heartache! Sick, medical bills, missed work, a young son to raise!
By the grace of God and divine intervention I met a hematologist/oncologist who said “if you want to live, you will go to the University of Nebraska in Omaha to the Lied Transplant Hospital…not someday, not in the near future, but TOMORROW”. There, it was the first time in 5 years that anyone had said to me the words “bone marrow transplant” but in order to live, to raise my son, and to do the job I love supporting soldiers, I knew, even with only a 50/50 chance of survival, it was my last hope. PRAY FOR THE BEST!
Unfortunately, more bad news and dark days…I would need a donor and no family member was a match. No one from the national registry was a match. No one from the international registry was a match. So I did more chemotherapy; everything that was available at the time. If you know me, you know that I don’t give up. I pray often, I am proactive, I take initiative, and I am my own best advocate. But doctors in three states (NC, IA, NE) had given their all to my case so I was being realistic with the situation; telling my parents, family and friends, and making plans for my son’s future.
In my most desperate of times, I received the call. “A young male from Germany who is a perfect match, just came on the registry; we are in talks with him to be your donor”…….HOPE was back; light at the end of a VERY dark tunnel.
On the 22nd of June, 2006 (exactly 8 years, 7 months ago) my donor cells arrived from Germany to The Lied Transplant Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska where I waited patiently for them after final rounds of chemotherapy and one last blast of total body radiation. My donor? His name is Michael; he is a husband and father, and he brings true meaning to the words SAVE A LIFE.
In 2011 (5 years after transplant) my body started rejecting my donor’s bone marrow. Angel Medflight was called in; flying me from a Detroit hospital to my doctors in Omaha. I am never one to ask “WHY ME GOD” because I’VE GOT THIS! I’ve met those that don’t have the fight in them, the desire to live so the better question is “WHY NOT ME”.
To all of those who have been on this journey with me the past 8+ years and all of those that work at Detroit Arsenal, this is my plea that you will give us just a few minutes of your time so we can put you on the bone marrow registry. YOU could be someone’s Michael, someone’s hero, YOU could save a LIFE!!! Someone who may be at the end with no hope in sight, he or she could be WAITING ON YOU to BE THE MATCH!!