Fighting For A Cure: A Friends Perspective

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Kelly Marie Schwerin has been one of many friends who witnessed the chaos, struggle, and perseverance throughout my six year battle.  When I returned from Philadelphia from my CAR T Cell journey, it was Kellys birthday.  On October 26, 2016 this is what she wrote:

You touched down at the airport last night as the clock ticked my birthday. I can’t help but imagine how YOU are actually the Birthday Girl. I’ll GLADLY share October 5th with you. For on your fight for a cure, THIS is the day you return to your home in California. After multiple medical ‘death sentences’, you have been released from your struggle by diligent, unrelenting, Science. YOU made this happen. YOU fought for your place in this world. You never wavered. You never gave up hope. You DEMANDED your right to access CarT-Cell therapy, and you will now be the case study for the expansion of that study. You didn’t just save your own live. You created an entirely new group of standards for future participants. Yes, you fight for the cure on a large scale. But your individual fight for YOUR CURE has opened the door for countless others. YOU took one HUGE GAMBLE. You turned down a perfect bone marrow transplant match. You did it because you believed in what they were doing in Philadelphia. You took the ULTIMATE leap of faith. And in doing so, you have opened the door to save countless lives beyond your own. So I am BEYOND proud to share this day, my birthday, with you. In fact, I’m lucky in that YOU share it with me. I love you.        

 

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The One Who Stood By My Side

A visit to F Ground (cancer unit) at Stanford brought back memories of the many, many admissions and treatments that I received over the years. I was so happy to see the nurses and staff. But as soon as I saw Dr. Michaela Liedtke, my AMAZING hematologist, tears started pouring!!! When I first researched t-cell therapy, she was the ONLY doctor who “believed” in CAR T-Cell Therapy. Her personalized care and support have kept me going through these years with multiple relapses.

The last time I saw her, I was on Pallative care with only three to four weeks left to live. Today, we hugged and talked about the future. What a blessing!!!

The Power of Prayer

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Three weeks ago I was told by a pallative care team at Stanford that I would have three to four weeks of life left.  I had a beautiful baptism arranged by my soul sister, Stephanie Busch.  My baptism and celebration day was the most special day of my life.  I am grateful for everyone who helped make that day the best day ever!!!

I have attended church religiously and have had many people reach out to me.  My good friend and nurse, Janell arranged for her priest to have a blessing performed after mass on Sunday – it was very emotional and I cannot be more grateful for the friends who attended and also blessed me!

Last Sunday, The Sisterhood LA Foundation took me to Disneyland.  Before Disneyland, one of the sisters took me to her church and after mass, she asked her priest to bless me.  Words cannot express how beautiful that day was for me.  I am fortunate to have had the presence of such a humble and kind group of women.

This past week I have been with my mother.  I had a stomach flu and was not feeling well.  Was this going to be it for me?  Afterall, it is coming very close to the three to four weeks I have left according to pallative care!  One can only imagine what may be going through my mind or how all my loved ones were feeling.

Yesterday was a big day at Stanford.  We talked with my team of nurses and my doctor while waiting (a bit apprehensive) for test results.  Within moments my mother and I received notice that my labs (blood test results) came back lookng great.  What does this mean?  It means the leukemia has not taken over my body.  Now most know that THIS IS NOT NORMAL for a leukemia patient who has not received treatment or blood transfusion products!!!!  In fact, my test results are completely backwards from what they should look like!  WOW.  Even the nurses and my doctor were in disbelief.  Does this mean that the cancer is gone?  No way.  But it does mean that I have a littler more time… I don’t know how much time, the doctors don’t know how much time, and we won’t know until I become sick again.

Today, some influential people connected to The University of Pennsylvania and from Stand Up To Cancer reached out with some positive news.  I will not go into details yet as I do not want to get anyones hopes up. 

What I want to say is that I am so grateful for everyone who has blessed me with their company over the last few weeks.  You have all help me in so many ways and I am so fortunate to have all of you in my life.  You keep me inspired and determined, to say the least.

Finally, I want to thank all of my friends, family, priests, organizations and all other loved ones for praying for meover the last few weeks.  And I want to THANK GOD for answering those prayers!

I love all of you!  God Bless!!!