the hospital ran more tests, my husband, Lloyd, and
I waited in the emergency room for the results. Hours
later, the specialist joined us to go over the lab
report. "I'm very sorry," he said, "but
you most likely have leukemia." We asked, "When
you say "most likely', does that mean there is
a chance that it is something else?" He replied,
"We'll need to take a sample of your bone marrow
to test it, but I'm 99% certain that it is leukemia."
never forget that moment. After the specialist left us alone,
we hugged each other and cried together. I felt so many
different emotions - shock being the first reaction, followed
by fear and uncertainty about what the future would hold.
My outlook on life was forever altered. Yet even at that
moment, my thoughts turned to God and later that night as
I knelt beside the bed in my hospital room and poured out
my heart to God in prayer, I experienced a deep, comforting
since I was a little girl, I had been taught about God and
I felt like I loved Him very much. But that day, I began
to reach out to Him in a different way than I ever had before.
There will be events in everyone's life - times of great
need - when there is no one that can take away the pain.
When that time comes, there are some that run from God or
become angry with Him as if He is to blame. I am so thankful
that I did not run away from God, but I ran to Him and in
my heart embraced Him as the only One that really understood
and loved me completely.
testing did confirm that I had Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
(CML). I didn't know very much about the disease, but I
knew that it was "cancer"; the word that causes
fear in even the strongest and most carefree of hearts.
I was 25 years old and had been healthy and energetic all
my life. The thought that I might battle a life-threatening
disease was not something I ever considered.
amazing how the word "cancer" changes a person's
perspective on life. It took more than a year before I could
even say the "c" word, because I didn't want to
believe it. But while the journey was often difficult and
painful, it also produced many positive changes in my life.
I felt uncertain about my future, but that uncertainty helped
me to focus on the things that really mattered. All of the
little day-to-day worries that had consumed my thoughts
suddenly seemed trivial. Just the day before I was diagnosed
with leukemia, I worried about things like my house not
being clean enough or big enough and losing that extra 10
pounds. I realized how much time I spent worrying about
things that are really not important, and I began to think
even more about the things that matter the most in this
life and in eternity.
the next weeks and months my husband and I learned as much
as we could about the disease growing inside of me. The
enemy was within; it was my own bone marrow producing too
many white blood cells that were congesting the blood and
preventing the other cells from working properly. Chronic
Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) usually progresses slowly. The
specialist told me that they would be able to control my
white blood cell production with chemotherapy drugs for
up to 10 years, and after that point I would require a bone-marrow
the disease progressed much more rapidly and aggressively
than the doctors anticipated, and over the next few months
my white blood cell counts fluctuated drastically. Two months
after my diagnosis, I was hospitalized with severe pain
in my back and legs. Over the course of 24 hours I went
from walking normally to lying on a hospital bed in continuous
agony. Even the intervenous drip of 100 milligrams of morphine
per hour didn't eliminate the pain. The doctors told my
husband that I had less than two days to live. But many
family and friends united in prayer, and I believe that
God brought me through that crisis. The doctors weren't
sure why the pain was occuring and they didn't understand
how I recovered, but in time I began sitting up and then
it was apparent that the leukemia was still there and I
was in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant. Because
I do not have any siblings, I needed an unrelated donor
transplant. The specialists provided little hope for finding
a compatible donor, saying my chances were similar to winning
the lottery. At the time, the statistics indicated a 1 in
20,000 probability of finding a matched donor on the Red
Cross Registry. But God answered our prayers, and against
all odds they found a perfect match for me right away. I
knew that was no coincidence.
to my bone marrow transplant I was given extremely high
dosages of chemotherapy - higher than the dosage prescribed
for any other type of cancer. The drugs completely destroy
the diseased bone marrow, and if new bone marrow is not
received, death results.
the drugs attack not only cancer cells but also healthy
growing cells, there are many side effects. Chemotherapy
patients lose hair and muscle mass, and develop sores in
the mouth as well as other symptoms that vary from one individual
to another. The body recognizes that it is literally filled
with poison and so it tries to cleanse by causing continual
vomiting. I lost all my hair - including my eyelashes and
eyebrows. The sores in my mouth were so painful that I could
only drink liquids and eat small amounts of mashed potatoes.
A bladder infection required I have a catheter for two weeks.
Physically, I felt very week and the drugs caused severe
depression and mood swings.
to the complications of chemotherapy, there are many risks
to a bone marrow transplant. The new bone marrow can cause
any number of problems lumped into one name: "Graft
Verses Host Disease or GVH". In an organ transplant,
the body (the Host) tries to reject the transplanted organ
(the Graft). But in the case of a bone marrow transplant,
the marrow (the Graft) is actually the immune system, so
it can begin to reject the body (the Host) and attack any
Many times I thought, "This process could kill me".
The doctors gave me a 50/50 chance of even living through
the transplant. If I did survive the surgery, they said
I would likely end up with many long-lasting and possibly
This journey was more than I could
handle in my own strength. I felt like
I was holding on to the hand of God
because He was my only hope. I recorded
my favorite Bible verses about God's
love on a tape that I played over and
over, sometimes all night long. I didn't
always feel God's love; at times He
felt very far away. But God promises
in the Bible that He would never leave
me and I chose to believe Him. I battled
many bouts of depression caused by the
drugs. I often felt desperately lonely
even though my family and friends were
very supportive. There were many days
that it was tough to drag myself to
the bathroom and then back to bed. It
was a time of just existing. It was
difficult to pray. My prayers consisted
of tears and cries of, "God, I
can't take this anymore".
like I was holding on to the hand
of God because He was my
didn't instantly rescue me, but as I trusted in Him, He
proved to me that He keeps His promises. He reminded me
through the sunrise that no matter how black the night,
how difficult the circumstances, or how many tears cried
in the shadows, the sun always chases away the darkness.
It has never failed since the beginning of time.
that life-changing day in January 1995, I have
been steadily improving. Not only is the leukemia
completely gone, I no longer require anti-rejection
drugs. I have new bone marrow and no lasting
side effects. My daily energy is as high as
it was in my teens. But the changes in me are
not only physical. I am more aware that this
life is fragile and only temporary. I try to
focus on the things that are really important.
I am also anticipating more and more the joy
of spending eternity with my Heavenly Father
who loves me and who keeps His promises. Those
are the life-changes that I am most thankful
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