Kathy, an independent 52-year-old nurse, was forced to take on an unfamiliar role as a patient when she was first diagnosed in December 2013 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Feeling tired and short of breath, Kathy was treated for asthma. However, while visiting her sister in Ohio, her temperature spiked and a visit to the hospital detected low blood counts that lead to her cancer diagnosis.
While beginning to prepare for chemotherapy, Kathy was experiencing extreme back pain. This led to her second diagnosis of another blood cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Kathy would need a bone marrow transplant. Fortunately, Kathy’s sister was a perfect match to be her donor, and Kathy received her bone marrow transplant on March 11, 2014. Kathy’s sister has been her primary caregiver, and has been her sole supporter throughout her journey.
Kathy is faced with a tremendous amount of physical challenges post transplant, but is on her way to recovery. While trying to heal, Kathy is under a lot of financial stress. She is struggling to keep up with cost of co-pays, transfusions, part-time care, and transportation. Covering the cost of her medication has been extremely difficult, especially because she does not have an income to rely on. This diagnosis of two blood cancers is an extreme rarity, but Kathy’s strong character gives her perseverance throughout this difficult journey.
Kathy is a part of The Bone Marrow Foundation’s Lifeline Fund. The Lifeline Fund helps to cover the myriad costs associated with transplants, such as donor searches, compatibility testing, bone marrow harvesting, medications, medical equipment, transportation and housing.
In December 2009, Carol was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). After four years of chemotherapy treatment in Vermont, doctors said that her best chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant. Carol received a related transplant from her sister who was a perfect match. The Bone Marrow Foundation’s One-to-One Funds helped Carol raise funds for transportation and home care since she could not work for a year while she recovered.
Following the potentially life-saving procedure at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Carol relapsed in January 2014. Despite her encounter with a relapse, Carol is determined to beat this disease. She has started working part-time and is slowly, but surely making progress. Carol is grateful for the support she has received from The Bone Marrow Foundation.
Rudy, a dedicated union sheet metal worker, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in the summer of 2012. Rudy had thought nothing of his extreme exhaustion since it was something he experienced every day after work. However, this feeling was beginning to intensify, which led to his checkup where his doctor prescribed medication for possible tuberculosis, which he was told to take for nine months. When no progress was made, the doctor suggested checking his kidneys and blood levels, as his condition could be fatal. A significantly low level of hemoglobin was discovered, and Rudy was rushed to the hospital.
Upon arrival, Rudy was diagnosed with AML and immediately began chemotherapy and other treatments. On October 13, 2012, Rudy received a bone marrow transplant.
Although he had little to no emotional support throughout his journey, Rudy always remained hopeful and continues to have a positive outlook despite his difficult circumstance. Rather than focusing on the negatives, he continues to look forward to a healthy life. Almost two years after his transplant, Rudy is still fighting to stabilize his health and wishes to get back to work as soon as possible. This journey has also been financially challenging for Rudy, and therefore he is requesting funds to assist with necessities such as hospital visits and bills, medicine, and living expenses.
Despite these emotional and financial challenges, Rudy still embodies his positive spirit and his strong belief in having continuing faith, stating, “Faith is the last to go”. He is helping to spread this positive attitude as a volunteer for The Bone Marrow Foundation’s SupportLine program, where he is available to mentor other patients undergoing bone marrow transplants.
Growing up in a small village in Kenya made it nearly impossible for 23-year-old Annah to receive proper treatment for her sickle cell anemia. Living in a village that had no electricity, running water, or nearby hospitals, paid a toll on the treatment Annah was able to receive. Throughout her childhood, Annah was mistreated for malaria. Doctors told Annah that she would not live past 12 years old, but she has continued to fight and is currently desperate for treatment.
In hopes of the proper care, Annah moved to Oklahoma in 2008 to live with her sister. In order for her transplant to occur, Annah must cover all payments for the transplant and medications for about one year. Overall, she is responsible for raising approximately $300,000 in order to cover all fees. Without proving that she has all of the expenses covered, Annah may not be able to get the transplant she needs.
Annah is determined to do all she can in order to raise the money for her transplant. She continues to stay positive and hopes to make conditions better in Kenya for others who suffer from sickle cell anemia.
In 2003, Lori took notice to her frequent fatigue, cramping knees, and progressively worsening rash on her elbows and skin. After two years of seeking medical advice, a diagnosis finally revealed that she was in Stage 4 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Lori spent six years traveling from West Virginia to Pittsburgh to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She went into remission, but three months later, the NHL returned and Lori immediately went back to Pittsburgh to receive more chemotherapy. The strength of the chemotherapy caused Lori’s immune system to suffer. This time, the cancer came back in Lori’s abdomen and she was treated with radiation.
Lori received a full allogeneic, unrelated stem cell transplant over the course of two years. Since then, she has experienced many ups and downs. Lori is being treated with steroids for chronic Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD). Lori has to limit her walking, driving, and sitting for long periods of time. She incurs a great deal of expenses traveling to and from Pittsburgh from West Virginia. For this reason, Lori contacted The Bone Marrow Foundation and received $300 to aid with these travel and medical expenses. She also has begun a personal fundraising initiative through The BMF’s One-to-One Funds to further ease the burden of these costs.