In March 2006, I was diagnosed with a blood cancer called Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Life as I knew it came to a crashing halt. After enduring a month in the hospital where I received intense chemotherapy, I was declared "in remission." I had three additional treatments and remained cancer-free until May 2007, when I relapsed.
My only shot at survival was to have a stem cell transplant. However, my brothers' immune markers didn't match mine, and an international search of bone marrow registries found no perfect matches. A transplant using the blood from two umbilical cords was recommended. I grasped at this straw in September 2007. It seemed to work.
This blog tells the story of my transplant and recovery, replete with outrageous slings and arrows. The expression "blood is thicker than water" has new meaning for me. I remained alive due to the blood of strangers, two of them, both male. Thanks guys.
The plot thickened when I relapsed 19 months into my new remission and had to go through the same rigamarole once more. This time, I received stem cells from a matched adult donor who was identified last go round but didn't fit into the necessary time frame. Charles Dickens could have fun with this, the stuff of pulp fiction.
I remain in remission 34 months later. My donor keeps leukemic cells in check but finds interesting ways to attack my body. Chronic graft versus host disease keeps me firmly entrenched in the medical world. And so it goes.