Utter shock. That’s what I felt sitting there in the doctor’s office. It was a busy time for me. I’m a lawyer and I was in the middle of trying a complex murder case. But it was time for my annual physical and, feeling virtuous and responsible, I took time off to have it done even though I had zero symptoms. Then the doctor asked me to sit down. Something in his serious tone of voice told me I would not be getting back to my murder case too quickly.
I had the disease that people don’t even like to name and, as it turned out, a bone marrow transplant was my only chance.
The first step was finding a genetic match. I was fortunate. Ezer Mizion found 3 very good matches. The best was a 12 out of 12. I was in the hospital, all physically and psychologically set up for the transplant. Then, the news came in. I was told that, in spite of the medication the donor received prior to the transplant, there were not enough stem cells. The transplant could not take place. Canceled.
Cancelled? How could that be? I was all set emotionally and, at this point, my immune system was shot. My system was prepared for the transplant and now, no transplant. It was not an easy time.
Thankfully, this only lasted a few weeks and in December I received my transplant from a second donor. I thought I was healed now. I was planning to go back to work shortly.
Then in June, I developed GVHD (Graft vs Host Disease). This landed me back in the hospital for 47 l-o-o-o-o-ng days with medication that made me so frail that it resulted in 9 broken bones.
Nothing was working. Things were not looking good until my doctor decided to use an experimental drug that he developed himself. This drug was not approved yet by the FDA but he made me a participant in his study, and thankfully – it worked.
This struggle was not easy. There was a lot of unknown and disappointment. Yet the one thing that helped with it all was my family and community. The community prepared food specific to what I could eat – every single day. My children, who are adults, were with me every step of the way. On the day of the transplant, when my son so much wanted to be with me, he himself was taken to the ER with intestinal blockage. It was a serious condition and I so much wanted to be there with him. He so much wanted to be there with me. We were both going out of our minds. But at least there was a happy ending for both of us and we can now sit and share our stories. I often wonder where would I be if it were not for Ezer Mizion.
I also feel that a lot of positive came out of this unwanted situation. Spiritually, my faith in G-d is strengthened and I make it a priority to give back by helping others. Often, the clinic turns to me to speak to people that do not want to do their treatment. I tell everyone to make sure to go to their GP annually. It can literally save your life. I know, it saved mine.