“For me, Christmas has always been about family and friendship. It is a time when we put all distractions aside and enjoy the company of those dearest to us”.
In March 2011 my world fell apart. I had been travelling on a work assignment when I suddenly started feeling flu-ish. I dismissed it, thinking it would pass, but by the end of the week I felt dreadful. A visit to my doctor, several blood tests and a bone marrow aspiration confirmed the unimaginable – I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The shock is hard to describe. My first thought was “what about my little boys?”
My epic journey began. Between March and July, I had three sessions of chemotherapy. It was gruelling – but the big hurdle still lay ahead. A bone marrow transplant would be the only hope of a cure. My brother & cousins were tested but none were a match. We turned to the SABMR to help find me a suitably matched “un-related” (non-family) donor. Incredibly, they found a donor for me in Germany and preparations began for my transplant.
For almost 3 months I had limited contact with my children and family. The separation was very difficult. While in hospital, I was only able to see my children through the window of my isolation unit. I drew the outline of their hands on my window to look at when we were apart.
I am so thankful for my second chance at life – for the time I can spend with my boys, my husband, my mom and dad, my extended family and my friends. For me, Christmas has always been about family. This will be the third Christmas since my transplant. We will have a very big Christmas celebratory lunch at our home this year. I think of how blessed I am to have this time with my family and I think of my donor, my life saver, to whom I will forever be grateful.