Dee’s Second Leukemia Story
Dee Philpott is a mother and wife that is facing leukemia for the second time! A perfect bone marrow match was found for her and the procedure has been planned. Her fundraiser is to raise money to pay for the care facility that she will stay in for 100 days and all other financial burdens that may arise. Dee told us her story and how she plans on kicking cancer’s butt once again!
“This the second time leukemia has disrupted my life so I feel like I have to start at the beginning to paint a full picture. My first diagnosis came as something of a surprise, and yet it wasn’t. I was finishing up a summer with my children, had just gotten over a virus that I caught at work, was missing my boyfriend that was away with the Army, and looking forward to starting another semester of nursing school. Other strange symptoms had started occurring. I had bruises with no physical trauma. My menstrual cycle was prolonged, and a trip to the amusement park left petechiae all over my legs. Josh talked me into bringing these symptoms up at my next gynecological visit. She ran a CBC, and within hours I got a phone call told me to pack a bag because it didn’t look good. In the ER, after more tests and a quick pow-wow with the doctor, I clearly remember looking at my friend and saying, “You know this is cancer, right?” As odd as this will sound, I was okay with dying. I knew that I would do everything in my power to fight it, but I also knew that if that was supposed to be the end…that was okay, too.”
Fortunately, she beat it her first time!
“The second time around, we had our eyes peeled for symptoms. I was nearly 2.5 years status post allogeneic bone marrow transplant. All of us: myself, Josh, the kids, family, friends, my doctors AND the donor really hoped that I had been “cured.” I would not say that I was numb when they came back with the diagnosis of relapsed AML, but I will say that there has been no sense of life being unfair (because when is it ever?) or sadness (although the time will come for that if the second bone marrow transplant doesn’t go as planned.). There has merely been a sense of hunkering down and getting on with the business of making plans that will allow me to go on living this life. I am not done loving my husband, Josh, or raising my children. My friends say that I am driven…it might just be that I still have control issues.”
“I am at a place in my life where we are WAY more comfortable than some people I know, and yet not nearly enough to make paying for 3 months of executive housing and co-pays on special medications for the next year out-of-pocket something that we can do without mourning the loss of savings, time apart, and a second income. The greatest hardships are of course financial, but also in watching my little girl cry as she tries to figure out where she fits into all of this craziness.”
Her family has been by her side to offer their love and support to Dee. She credits them with being her greatest source of comfort during this battle.
“The children moved back in with Josh and myself a little over a year ago. Having them in the house, being able to text them, call them, fight with them, cuddle with them, and have those difficult conversations with them has by far been the best elixir of life that I could have asked for. Josh is a constant source of support. I am willing to bet even he doesn’t know from what reserves he pulls his strength.”
She also talked to us about how her inspiration is her own, and she often doesn’t feel down. But she did have advice for others who might be going through something similar.
“I am rarely down, and often inspiration is found in the books that I finally have enough energy and concentration to read. Honestly, that inspiration probably has little meaning to anyone else. My advice is to give yourself permission to experience whatever feeling that suits the moment. I mean REALLY feel it…even if that means locking yourself in your room so that you don’t accidentally hurt someone’s feelings. Give yourself 5 minutes to wallow in it, and then let it go. Getting lost in “it isn’t fair” or “why me? I am a good person” is fruitless and detracts from your energy stores. Also, give your caregivers permission to mourn their losses in this journey.”
If there was something that she could say to someone going through a similar battle that would brighten their day, she would tell them that:
“Bald is not only beautiful, but really stylish right now!”
In terms of the nice things that people have done for her, she knows they are countless. She has had support, love, donations, and more pour in.
“I could fill pages of paper with the number of nice things that people have done for me and mine both the first time around and the second. This time around, my best friend moved from Colorado to come live with me while I undergo transplant care. That is no small gesture.”