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This fundraiser ended on 06/01/12

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I will be cycling 100 miles to raise money for this cause Help find a cure! http://pages.teamintraining.org/vtnt/ambbr12/rmms04

It was just another Saturday.  I had a break from school for a couple of days, but had to go to work.  When I got there, everything was fine.  A few hours in, I noticed I was favoring my right hip, but I was really busy and there wasn’t much pain so I ignored it.  On my lunch break, I bought some Extra Strength Tylenol and took a few thinking, “That will do it.” As the day went on, my limp got worse and the Tylenol had the same pain killing effect as sugar pills.

That night, as the hours went by, the pain increased exponentially.  My dad took me to the emergency room first thing Sunday morning.  We sat there for hours waiting for my turn and when I finally saw the doctor, he said I probably tweaked a muscle or something and prescribed some pain killers.  We went home and I took the pills and tried to wait to see if it would just go away, but the pain, which was already the most intense I had ever experienced, only got worse.

The next few days are kind of a blur.  I know I watched a movie Sunday night, but I have no idea what happened or even what movie it was.  All I could think about was my right hip and watching the clock tick by till I could take another pill.  By this time I was taking the pills that were prescribed and some of my grandma’s “knock you on the floor” pills for back pain.  Neither one had much effect. 

I was semi aware of seeing a few different doctors, but no one could figure it out.  I was a 21 year old college student in perfect health.  How could anyone have guessed the true cause of my problem?  At some point I ended up at Baptist Hospital and from there on I have no idea what happened.  A doctor compared my pain to a house fire: my body being the house and my pain the fire.  He said the pain pills and the morphine injections were like trying to put out a house fire with a fire extinguisher.  You need to flood the house first and then kill the pop up flames with the extinguisher.  So, they knocked me out and got a muscle tissue sample and a bone marrow biopsy, and when the results came back, gathered my family in the room with me.  They reluctantly told us the bad news and shocked my entire family. 

I was transferred to UAMS because they had a leukemia specialist that was the best around, and that’s where I lived for the majority of the next six months.  My treatments began, I got off the morphine, and my mind slowly came back.  At that point, what my family and friends already had time to deal with was thrown at me all at once.  They filled me in on what had happened over the last week, but it took a while before it really sank in.

 Leukemia?  Cancer?  That’s just something you hear about.  It’s something that old people that I’ve never met get.  It had never seemed real or relevant to my life before.  I had never given a second of thought to cancer.  How do I have Leukemia?

I became very familiar with the facilities and friendly with the staff.  Although all I wanted at the time was to go home, it actually wasn’t too bad of a place to stay.  The building was new and the people were nice.  The nurses told me that they fought over who got assigned to me, because I was so easy going. 

My first few treatments went smoothly; I had very few problems that chemotherapy usually causes.  I would get to go home after a round of treatment, but after a couple of days I would run a fever and have to go back to the hospital.  The chemo destroys your bone marrow, which is where your blood is produced.  So, low blood production means low white blood cell count, which means poor immune system.  After my third round of chemo I developed yet another fever, I thought.  I had gotten fevers after the other treatments and they had turned out to be false alarms, but this one was not.  They started me on antibiotics and eventually pulled my central line, fearing it was the source of the infection.  This round of treatment had knocked my system down further than before and I had a nearly nonexistent white blood count.  I ended up on the ventilator with double lung pneumonia and sepsis.  Again, with the combination of a 105 degree fever and more drugs than blood in my system, I have no memory of the entire week that all this happened.  All I have are the stories my family told me afterwards.

The doctors, my mom didn’t find out till later, didn’t expect me to pull through, but I guess the timing was just right.  After a round of chemo, your blood production slowly declines until it bottoms out and stays there for a few days.  When your neutrophil count, a type of white blood cell, gets below a certain point you are dubbed “neutropenic.” This is the time when you are most vulnerable to infection.  After your system sits at rock bottom for a few days, your bone marrow finally “wakes up” and starts producing blood again.  Well, I was neutropenic for a long time while all of this was going on and antibiotics don’t help much when your body isn’t fighting.  Like I said, the timing was just right.  It’s like in the movies when the clock is ticking down and the hero saves the day with one second left.  In this case, my white blood cells were the hero.  My bone marrow finally “woke up” and came home to the kids throwing a house party and unleashed the full wrath of my immune system.  I came back strong; I was off the ventilator and awake in just a couple of days.  In my case, my age was on my side.  If I hadn’t been so young, the outcome might have been much different.

After that, we took a break because my doctor was kind of afraid to go through with another treatment, so she sent me to Houston for a second opinion.  By the time I got to Houston I had recovered and was stronger than I had been in a long time, so, of course, the doctor that saw me said that I was fit for two more rounds of chemo.  While I was in the area, I just had to visit my awesome Aunt Michele and her kids (my cousins), who are, without question, the coolest people I know.J

So, I came back to Little Rock for my next two dreaded rounds of chemotherapy, but all went well and the worst was over.  It’s been almost two years now and my blood is still clear, but others aren’t so lucky.  A 25 year old Physical Therapy student I met in the hospital, who is still doing treatments, just had her shoulder replaced because of the continued use of steroids to assist the chemotherapy and an engineering major from my school who was diagnosed within a week of me didn’t make it.  My story has a happy ending, but most do not.

Please join my aunt Michelle to find a cure for blood cancer and pray for my continued cancer free blood work and my friends still going through treatments.
please help me raise money to help find a cure against blood cancers. They don't discriminate, and take people at there most vulnerable ages the very young and old. No one, no one is immune, and to watch a loved one as I have is such a helpless feeling. here is something we can do! I will be riding 100 miles to raise money for the Luekemia & Lymphoma Society.
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