A Story of Love
This is not your traditional Valentine’s Day love story. There are no star-crossed lovers, no romantic proposals – but, it is definitely a story full of love.
As a former newscaster and attorney, 36 year old Barbara relished challenges. But nothing prepared her for the diagnosis that came on Mother’s Day 2010 – acute myeloid leukemia. She had just give birth to her third son.
“I remember telling my doctor, I have 3 young boys – I cannot have cancer,” says Barbara.
Barbara started chemotherapy immediately. She enjoyed 10 months in remission before relapsing.
In September 2011, Barbara and her father relocated from Honolulu, Hawaii to Seattle, Washington for a stem cell transplant. Her father was her donor and caregiver.
“He gave me the gift of life twice. It is simply magical when you truly think about it,” says Barbara. “He was the most patient, stable, consistent caregiver. He is an amazing man. All the nurses at the Clinic loved him.”
Barbara received her stem cell transplant on October 28, 2011.
“As I watched my dad’s stem cells dripping through the IV, I thought, this is my chance to live – to see my sons grow up. This is it,” says Barbara.
Barbara endured 4 months of recovery in Seattle. Though still battling side effects from the transplant, Barbara recently reunited with her family in Honolulu.
“We are so grateful for the advancements in stem cell transplantation that allowed this type of haploidentical (half-matched) transplant possible,” says Barbara. “It wasn’t an option a few years ago.”
Now, the medical bills are starting to come in. Barbara is not medically allowed to work while recovering. She and her family continue to struggle with the medical costs associated with her transplant, as well as post-transplant expenses. And there remains the possibility of relapse. But compared to a second chance at life, Barbara knows this is all manageable.
“You can’t put a price tag on life. I want to see my sons graduate and have families of their own. I want to live a rich and full life with my husband of 10 years,” says Barbara. “There is so much more to do in life. There is so much I can contribute. I just pray this is in God’s plan.”
If you would like to share some love this Valentine’s Day by helping a bone marrow, stem cell, or cord blood transplant patient, check out Lifeline Project.