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Voices of Hope & Healing
for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant

I Smile
by June Dorsey

This revelation excites me every morning. No matter what the weather, I SMILE and thank God for this miracle of life.

The transplant process was not fun, yet there were many times to laugh, even when in pain. I did not know how critical my condition was. It took five months to find someone who finally said I needed to see a hematologist immediately. Diagnosed with AML (leukemia) at 40% blast, I met the transplant physician at our local hospital two days later. During the interview; I sensed he was determining if I would be a viable candidate. Without thinking, I promised I'd keep his 100% survival record and asked what I could do to help him make me well again. Hey, I was a Type 'A' personality at work and play, and I wanted to get back to 150%! So he explained the pre- and post-transplant process, skipping the meaty middle, and drew a diagram of days for me. So I took a copy of the diagram and skipped out of his office, knowing I'd be okay again.

I remember the first two days of preliminary chemotherapy, 60 tiny pills a day. What a deal – it was easy. Thinking only 8 more days of this, and I'll go home. Then the 24-hour IV drips began, and I drooped. Then one day I heard someone playing a piano. I baby-stepped with my IV pole toward the sound and discovered a lounge with a physician playing. I also noticed an exercise bike buried behind IV poles that would eventually become my means to gaining my energy back.

My sister arrived to donate her stem cells, bringing my brother for support. It hadn't occurred to me that she was facing something scary too! Providing the needed stem cells was not easy for my donor. With three tries, a four-week break between each attempt, she was on the machine about 30 hours. Usually it takes 3 to 8 hours. What a trooper! I am so fortunate she did not give up.

As the months of waiting went by I was excited to finally reach transplant time to get on with my life. Partially defrosted to slush, the stem cells were ushered into the port. There was no chance of sleeping, so I mostly joked with the team while they seriously worked the process.

Writing this has been very therapeutic for me. I began as a very quiet and submissive person; now I'm very open and talkative. I kid my sister that her blood changed me into her twin. It seems true to me, though learning to ask for and accept help from loving friends opened me to a new view of the world.

I'm thankful to be here to share with you and hopefully encourage someone in some way. I'm most thankful for the people God provided to save me: my transplant and post-transplant physicians and staff; the many RN's specializing in cancer care; my donor; my caregivers; four close friends who came to the hospital when I cried out in loneliness; and many church volunteers, neighbors, and friends who helped.

To those seeking a transplant, may you be blessed with many good moments that will become your memories.

Quilt Image

 

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