Leading to my first diagnosis, I noticed I was very weak and pale. I went from running 6 miles daily in cross country practice to being completely out of breath just walking up the stairs at school. I noticed my face and lips were white as a ghost and I often got terrible headaches. I felt like I was going to pass out if standing for long periods of times. Leading up to my relapse, my symptoms were much different. Since we were monitoring my counts in blood draws every other month, we caught it there first when we noticed a huge drop in platelets. We re-checked blood counts again a month later and by that time I had noticed lots of bruising around my legs and arms.
My first treatment I sailed through with no complications, delays, or unexpected hospital admissions. It was a long road but nothing compared to my relapse treatment. It took me 5 months to reach remission this time and I got every complication possible. I had a blood clot, developed allergic reactions to several meds, ended up septic in the ICU twice, and spent the entirety of January, April, and June inpatient. Fortunately my month inpatient for my bone marrow transplant was fairly uneventful without major complications and I am recovering very well at home and will be 6 months post transplant this December.
I’ve had to take a year off from nursing school in order to receive transplant and wait for my counts to recover. This has been the hardest part for me, aside from the physical pain from treatments. I am not able to graduate with my class and am now a year behind in my studies.
Everyone has been affected by my diagnosis in different ways. I can only imagine how hard it is on my parents to watch their daughter go through such horrible treatments and suffer so much. For my sister, I know it has impacted her seeing the great nursing care I’ve received and she is currently in nursing school, as she and I have both been inspired by my nurses. My brother and I have a literally inseparable bond now. On June 1st he donated his marrow to me which has saved my life.
We are so grateful for all the love and support we have received during the past 6 years since I started my battle. Organizations such as The Gold Hope Project bring such joy and light to families going through this journey by giving them family pictures they can cherish forever.