My name is Kate Foster and I am a senior at Auburn High School in Rockford, IL. This year I am taking the Senior Capstone class offered at my school and have decided to run bone marrow drives and fundraise for Be the Match. I joined Team Be The Match to raise money because I’m passionate about saving lives!
I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia when I was twelve years old. I was taken from my normal life and placed in the hospital where I would live and receive chemotherapy for the next six months. But the worst was yet to come. On my seventh day of treatment I acquired a flesh eating bacteria in my left leg called necrotizing fasciitis, also known as gangrene. I was rushed to the operating room for surgery and didn't wake up until three days later. The doctors were able to save both my leg and my life, although they had to remove two of my quadricep muscles, leaving me unable to walk without crutches. We proceeded with my treatment, running into more complications along the way: an aspergillus fungal infection that traveled from my leg to my lungs, landing me back in the intensive care unit, an infection on my nose that caused the doctors to bring in plastic surgeons in case they had to remove a section of my face to keep the infection from spreading, and finally, another infection in my leg, this time inside the knee joint, which the surgeons found the day before I had my bone marrow transplant. The doctors decided to amputate my leg the next day.
Despite this setback, I was determined to get back into the gym. I returned to gymnastics on crutches, healed and cancer free. It was difficult relearning everything with one leg, but there was no way I was going to let that stop me. Two months later, I received my first prosthetic leg and relearned how to walk.
But the road to recovery is never smooth. Three months later when I went in for a routine checkup I heard the only words worse than “you have cancer”: “you have relapsed”. My cancer had come back, stronger than before. Once again I was ripped away from gymnastics and placed back in the hospital. I had more rounds of chemotherapy and then a second bone marrow transplant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. This transplant came from an unrelated donor who had signed up for the bone marrow registry through Be the Match. All I knew about this person is that she was a 23-year-old female from somewhere in the United States and all she knew about me was that I was a 13-year-old girl with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Yet, this person saved my life. My second transplant was successful and I have been healthy and happy ever since.
Two year years after my transplant I got the opportunity to meet the person who had saved my life. Through Be the Match I was put in contact with Taylor Kemp, a recent University of Georgia graduate who two years ago had decided to sign up for the bone marrow registry at a bone marrow drive and as a result ended up saving my life.
You can have the same impact by signing up for the bone marrow registry. Sign up online today using the promo code DONATEwKATE. Signing up is easy, all you have to do is swab your mouth and fill out some information.
If signing up for the registry is not for you, donations are always welcome. Your gift can add new potential marrow donors to the registry, assist patients with uninsured transplant costs and fund innovative research to improve transplant outcomes.
Did you know?
A marrow transplant can be a life-saving treatment for more than 70 diseases including leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell. Seventy percent of patients do not have a matching donor in their family. They depend on Be The Match to find an unrelated marrow donor and receive the transplant they need.
Please help me reach my fundraising goal by making a tax-deductible contribution. Your gift delivers cures to patients desperate for a second chance at life. Every dollar counts. Together, we can make a difference!