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Taking Time to Smell the Flowers


Like many other patients, I learned about your organization as I began preparing for my stem cell transplant in 2002. Diagnosed with AML at age 29, there weren’t many people in my peer network for me to turn to. There were only limited resources to help me understand what a stem cell transplant would mean to me. I remember ordering and watching the nbmtLINK video, “The New Normal,” and it really helped me to prepare for what was to come.

My stem cell transplant was performed at the University of Minnesota on July 26, 2002. My donors were umbilical cords – two to be exact – donated from two wonderful families I did not know. I was part of a clinical trial that was testing the efficacy of umbilical cord stem cells in adults. And I’m very happy to say that it worked. Fifteen years later, I am healthy and going strong!

I have made it my mission in life to use my own experience to help raise awareness for umbilical cord and bone marrow donation. In fact, one of my friends who registered as a bone marrow donor during my illness was just called to donate her stem cells to a patient in need. Also, I am working to raise money for Gateway for Cancer Research, an organization that funds clinical trials designed to help patients live longer, feel better or be cured today. I raise money by running half marathons, and plan to do one in every state. To date, I have raised over $67,000 and have completed races in 40 states.

Thanks to all of you at nbmtLINK for all you do on behalf of transplant patients. It is truly a blessing to know people who care and want to help during a very difficult time. I also really appreciate my Happy 2nd Birthday cards! It’s a great idea and a happy reminder of how far I’ve come since July 26, 2002.

Congratulations on your 25-year milestone this year. I know you have made an important difference in many patients’ lives during those years.

I’m also attaching a photo here of me stopping to smell the flowers on my run home from work during spring marathon training last year.

You can read more about my experience at the blog I kept during my transplant: www. transplantthis.com, or at my Facebook page: https://www.facebook. com/50StateChallenge/

Rhonda and boyfriend Ryan during a Gateway for Cancer Research fundraiser.

Rhonda and her family

Stopping to smell the flowers on my run home from work during spring marathon training last year.

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