Educating, swabbing, and running to end blood cancer!

Amanda Mikel

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In August 2003, I began having some trouble with joint pains and was back and forth to the doctor with having blood work to find out I was very anemic. At the end of November, I found out that I was pregnant. When I went to the OBGYN on December 18th, I had a numerous amount of blood work done and that I was 8 weeks pregnant. That night there was a message on the answering machine to be at the doctor first thing the next morning. Aunt Gwen, sister and I went for the results and find out that the blood work showed I had leukemia.

I was diagnosed on December 19, 2003 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) five days after my 21st birthday. ALL is more common in boys 10 and younger. Pretty much everything that was done was experimental. On the 22nd I had to be at UAMS in Little Rock to see what our plans were going to be. I was scared to death because I had no idea what and how my life was fixing to change. I can remember looking at Aunt Gwen and saying, just don’t let me die, knowing that ‘God was in Control’. I came home on the 24th and had to return first thing on the 26th to start chemo. Doctors had to do a D&C because I wasn’t far along enough to carry the baby and do chemo too. I say, that the baby saved my life. If, I had not known I was pregnant then the leukemia may have been worse and caused more problems.  Doctors told me I would be in the hospital for at least 3 months and I only stayed 3 weeks. I went into remission on January 28, 2004, and the next day I had a reaction to some medicine and I almost died, but God brought me through. I was in and out of the hospital for about 9 months receiving chemo. I lost my hair at least 3 times, but I always said it would grow back. Hair was the least of my worries.

In July 2005, I had pneumonia along with other respiratory problems. I was air-lifted to Little Rock and was in intensive care for about 2 1/2 weeks on a respirator. Again, God brought me through.

In October 2006, Shane and I found out that we were going to have a baby. We all were so excited but worried at the same time not knowing how it would affect me. In February 2007 mom and I went back for a 3 month checkup, and the doctor came in and said that the leukemia had returned. So the next thing was for my name to go on a list to find a match for a stem cell transplant. I didn’t know what to do. Here I was 27 weeks pregnant, and the leukemia is back. All I wanted was to have a healthy baby. The doctors wanted me to carry Logan as long as I could with my counts staying up and not dropping.

On March 4th, I was admitted into the hospital to get ready for the birth of Logan. I have had so many units of blood and platelets throughout my journey, but on March 6th, I had a reaction to some platelets and I almost died again. Again, God brought me through.  The doctors went ahead and took Logan by C-section that day. Logan was born weighing 3 lbs. 11 oz. I was in intensive care for 2 days afterwards on a ventilator. Logan stayed in the hospital for about 8 weeks, and he did great. Two weeks later after Logan was born I started chemo again and continued every few weeks until I was notified that I had a match.

Again I was admitted into the hospital on August 6th and did a very high dose of chemo for my counts to bottom out to receive the transplant. On the 15th, I received a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor. He was a 38 year old, white male out of the state of California that all I know. It took about 15 minutes and I was back out in the waiting room with my family and back to playing with Logan. A few weeks later I had another reaction but again, God brought me through. I lived in Little Rock until November because I had to be seen on a daily basis. I got to come home one time during all of that. I am so blessed and thankful to have a great family that stayed with me every day and would bring Logan back and forth so I could spend time with him, even though there was days I didn’t have any strength or energy to play with him or even hold him.

To this day, I still have 6 months checkups in Little Rock and once a year bone marrow biopsies. This year will be my 29th biopsy. Doctors told me after the transplant I’d always have to take medicine incase my body rejected the transplant, but I only took it for a year.  Glory to God!!!

With all this being said about my journey, God is my main source and is my healer. I am very thankful each and every day that I am still alive to raise Logan and watch him grow up. People always say, you are so strong and have so much faith. I just say back that is not always easy, but I know who has everything in control and I leave it all to him. My mom didn’t name me Amanda Faith for nothing!