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On April 29th, my birthday, I will participating in this year’s Be The Match Walk+Run in memory of my husband John. I was supposed to write MY story but this isn't about me, so I am going to tell you John's story.
In November of 2007 John was diagnosed with CLL, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. He had chemotherapy treatment for the next six months and handled it pretty well, he continued to work and function without much disruption in his daily life. The treatment was successful and he went into remission for the next 5 years. His CLL returned and again had to have more chemotherapy, unfortunately this time was much different. The regimen changed significantly and John had a really rough time with chemotherapy. He continued to work but most times couldn't get out of bed. After another 4-6 rounds the CLL went into remission again. This time the remission only lasted about a year. In January 2015 the doctors decided the try a new drug that had been approved by the FDA, it was in pill form and therefore didn't have the toxicity that intravenous chemo did. He remained on that for a couple of months, but unfortunately the cancer came back with avengence in April. This time John had what they called Richter's Transformation and the statistics were not great. He was hospitalized on April 23rd. During his hospitalization, he had a stroke which was caused by tumor lysis syndrome and ended up in the ICU. The doctor's weren't sure if he was going to make it. Each day things got worse but on May 1st he started to turn the corner. He was in and out of the hospital for the next 6 months, he had to learn to walk again, feed himself and many other things, but he was determined and he worked hard to do all of those things. While continuing to receive treatment for CLL, the doctors told us that the only thing that was going to save his life was a stem cell transplant. In order for him to receive the transplant they needed to knock the cancer down as much as possible and he had to be much stronger to be able to get through the transplant regimine. John's sister was not a match but thankfully they were able to find two matches that were compatable for John. On September 18th John entered into Northwestern Memorial in Chicago and started the fight of his life. He had chemotherapy for the next 4 days and then 3 days of radiation, they had to completely destroy his existing immune system, in doing so he had gotten very sick. On Friday, September 25th, transplant day arrived, everything went as planned. For those that aren't familiar with what is involved in receiving a stem cell transplant, its actually an easy process. The transplant takes about an hour, it's like receiving a blood transfusion, except it is stem cells. After transplant it takes anywhere between 17-50 days before the stems cells start to engraft. John did ok the next few days, unfortunately that didn't last long. One of the medications that John needed to help the transplant take, was a medication that he was allergic to and unfortuantely they couldn't stop giving him the medication, they had to find a way to get him to tolerate the medication or else the transplant wouldn't be successful. He started to take a turn for the worst by Tuesday. His breathing starting to deteriorate, he had to be intubated and moved to the MICU (medical intensive care unit) where he could be monitored very closely. He was put in a medically induced coma and things just never got better. On October 4th he had to start dialysis the next day I received a call from the doctors because his blood pressure had dropped and they were doing everything they could to bring his levels back up but they weren't sure he was going to make it. I called family and friends and had them come to the hospital to say their last goodbyes. We sat by his side for the rest of the day and watch the blood pressure monitor. He finally stabililzed and remained stabil the next few days. On Sunday, October 11th in the early morning hours I received a phone call from the hospital telling me that I needed to get to the hospital right away. There wasn't much else that could be done, it was just a matter of time before his heart would stop. At 6:10am on October 11th, John's heart stopped beating for the last time.
This is John's story and we need YOU to join the fight and help more patients like my husband. Please help me reach my fundraising goal, the money that we raise will:
Blood cancer has a cure, please support me and together we can show blood cancer it has met its match.
Thank you for listening to John's story!
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Every 3 minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer.
Thousands of patients with blood cancers like leukemia or other diseases like sickle cell anemia, need a marrow transplant to survive. Most patients don’t have a fully matched donor in their family — and that’s when they turn to Be The Match®. By participating in a Be The Match Walk+Run, or donating funds, you are providing life-saving support to those patients in need. Do right, join the fight.