In January 2013, I went for an annual physical for my work insurance. My WBCs were a little low but nothing too alarming. I went back over 3 months later to check my cholesterol since I had been put on statins. During this 3 month time, I was short of breath and had headaches. After the blood draw, my doctor made an appointment with a hematologist/oncologist. Talk about scared. I made the mistake of going by myself because I’m tough. HA. The oncologist (aka: my savior) suspected MDS. I asked how I got Multiple Sclerosis…that is how much I knew about anything medical. He explained what Myelodisplastic Syndromes was but it’s still a question as to how I got it. He was amazed at how I was walking and not sick because of how low ALL my numbers were. I was sent immediately to Baptist hospital to be type crossed for 2 units of RBC and 1 unit of platelets. That was the first of 65 transfusions to date. (I lost count of pints) I was started on Dacogen chemotherapy 5 days every 21 days until my only sibling was tested. Me and my sister, Stephanie, look alike being less than 2 years apart but are complete opposites in EVERYTHING. I knew she wouldn’t be a match but she was positive she would. I won and the search for a donor began with another one of my saviors (my donor coordinator) at MD Anderson in Houston. I was referred there after diagnosis and made my first trip in August 2013 to prepare for an allogenic bone marrow transplant. Chemotherapy kept my blasts down between 5-7% and in November, 2013 a match was located internationally. My donor is a 25 year old female and a 14 out of 14 match. She had been on the registry for one week. With those odds, you know that it was meant to be. On November 30, 2013, I and my new husband, Richard, were Houstonians. After a 3 month delay due to port removal infections and donor rescheduling, I received my new bone marrow on February 25, 2014. I will spare the horrendous chemotherapy and side effects one receives in preparation for a transplant. Or the massive amount of Ecoli that was found in my blood stream during a blood draw (shotty CVC insertion). Or the Renal failure found during another blood draw (due to a medication change). Or the 0500 hours ER visit due to a fever (another infection). I had no choice. My donor, on the other hand, had a choice. She chose to reschedule several times, take a week off from work, have 50 holes drilled in her hips and then tell me through correspondence that she will gladly do it again if needed. We have written anonymously but will not be able to meet for another year due to international procedures. I’m up for suggestions on exactly what to say to someone that just saved your life. Thank you alone just doesn’t cover it.
We arrived back to Arkansas on March 30, 2014…exactly 6 months from when we left. I’ve never been so happy to sleep in my own bed or hug my dogs…shhhh, don’t tell my doctors. Six months later, I walked my first 5K…FIGHTING RED 5K. It took me 57:01:05 to finish. Since then, I have completed three other 5Ks and recently completed a 5.66 mile leg in Carry The Load….in combat boots! I went back to work in late August, 2013 in light duty status. I am a police officer with the City of Little Rock and expect to be in full capacity shortly. Without my donor swabbing, I wouldn’t be here to do any of this.