This has been an exciting year for me, and at the top of the list is being 6 years out from my stem cell transplant! Six years ago today I was very sick. All of the toxic chemo had kicked in and totally killed my bone marrow. I had found out that my donor’s stem cells were on a flight to MD Anderson in Houston and , after being worked on in the lab all night, would be ready for me the next day. This is an indescribable feeling only a survivor sister or brother would understand. To be so sick, but to be incredibly hopeful and thankful! To be a survivor five or ten years out seemed an eternity and unthinkable. It was a time of living minute to minute.
Fast forward to April 17, 2017. My phone rings at 6:00 A.M.and in my grogginess and realizing it was still dark, thought it must be some kind of emergency. Nope, it was my son, Hayes, singing Happy Birthday to me! That was oh so special and started my day out in the best way! Throughout the day that I turned 62 years old, I received wonderful cards and calls, signed up for social security ( hahaha!), and started thinking.
Thought about how I no longer “think” like a sick person. Ok, I still obsess on hand washing! Thought about how I feel better than I have felt long before my diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome eleven years ago. Thought about how I have my mojo back. Thought about how I can run 3 miles in 30 minutes every day. Thought about how incredibly blessed I am with good health, family, and my awesome husband, Wade, who loves me completely and wonderfully! Thought about how it was all worth it!
Fast forward to last week when I had my 6 month appointment with Dr. Hosing at MD Anderson. I love my appointments with her! Her nurse, Kelly, is the best! This time, when Dr. Hosing walked in, she said my blood work was so normal that we had no medical issues to talk about, so can we just visit? Where have you travelled? We chatted for a while, I hugged her neck, and thought about how much I love her. And I thought about the perfect, expert, loving care she has given me since I became her patient after Dr. Garcia Mañero released me to her. Going back to MD Anderson is not dreaded. No, it’s more like going back to the people and place where I was given another chance! Going back home. It’s looking forward to seeing people I love. Dr. Garcia Manero, I’m going to see you next time I am there and give you a big hug! You knew the absolute perfect time for my transplant!
None of this would be possible without one person, my donor and my friend, Robert! He is my lifesaver. At 19 years old, he stepped up and donated those awesome stem cells to an unknown stranger. What an incredible guy he is! Last summer, my husband and I were honored to attend his wedding to his beautiful bride, Theresa, in Pennsylvania. We stayed with his parents, and were able to meet his extended family and friends. It was an amazing experience! You fellow survivors can relate to the indescribable love, closeness, and thankfulness you feel for your donor. Thank you, Robert, for being my lifesaver. For your selfless act of giving me your stem cells. (Best stem cells EVER!) For your friendship!
Robert got into the Be The match registry through Coach Andy Talley’s “Get in the Game” program. Thanks, Coach Talley, for all you do to get college athletes into the registry!
For all of you facing a transplant or recovering from one, never give up hope. Follow your Doctor’s advice and instructions perfectly, take your meds, rely on family and friends for support, keep putting one foot in front of the other even when you don’t feel like it, eat healthy food, exercise, think positive thoughts, develop your spirituality, and be thankful!
This one is for you Robert! I am so thankful for you and I love you! Happy 6!!!!!