“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
One year ago today, on June 1, 2013, my Kate and I ran our first half marathon in Annapolis, MD. I finished in 2:36. Two weeks later, my health suddenly declined as I presented with daily fevers, shortness of breath, low energy and a persistent pain under my left ribcage. Fear of a heart condition landed me in the hospital for tests. My white blood count was 29,000 and I had a growth in my abdomen.
Two hospitalizations, one surgery, two bone marrow biopsies, and three oncologists later, I was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML).
CMML is a disease in which too many white blood cells are in the bone marrow, crowding out other normal blood cells. A bone marrow transplant is the only cure for CMML and at my age, finding a 10-point donor match was essential in order to avoid a recurrence of the disease. During the donor search we managed the disease and its side effects with monthly 7-day rounds of chemotherapy.
My siblings generously offered to be tested, but unfortunately they were ruled out as donors for me. Additionally, the initial search with Be the Match Registry didn’t identify a suitable donor either. But, we kept the faith knowing that each month a new search would be performed including international registries not aligned with Be The Match.
Miraculously, after a “short” five months of searching the world, my perfect 10-point match with all the necessary cells and whistles for my transplant has been found.
Now, the real race begins.