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Santa Barbara Team In Training

From Stephanie Waxman

Diagnosis (One Year Later)
June 25, 2013

One year ago today I received a call telling me to pack a bag and emergently get to the hospital, that I was being admitted to the hematology oncology floor. I hadn’t felt well for a few months, but cancer had never been mentioned. The doctors thought it was some weird infection or virus. I was so scared and confused and didn’t believe what was happening. I had never been in a hospital overnight before. My heart pounded as I threw a toothbrush and pajamas in a bag and my mom drove me to the hospital. I was in a shared room that first night – June 25, 2012 – so my mom, dad and boyfriend were not able to stay with me. I laid there alone, awake all night, listening to my bald roommate, who clearly was very sick with an advanced stage of blood cancer, moan in pain. Was that going to be me?

A few days later I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, which had advanced to the worst stage called “blast crisis”. They started me on several chemotherapies right away to try to get my blood counts down to a safe level. I learned that until recent advances, blast crisis has almost always been fatal. However, because of LLS and the research they fund, new drugs like the chemotherapy I was now taking, and a potentially life saving bone marrow transplant, I was given hope to live a long (even if not completely normal) life.

I remember that week like a dream – it feels so far away yet so recent. There were so many pokes and IVs and tests and doctors and nurses and transplant coordinators and confusion and questions and tears.

A week after I was released from the hospital, I was signed up to run in the San Francisco Marathon. I had been so excited to do the first half of the marathon, one of the only races in the city that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge. The reality of how much my life was going to change started to hit me when I realized I could not do the race. I started it with my mom and some of the TNT Santa Barbara team, but I was only able to walk the first few miles before the nausea and weakness was too much and I had to call my dad to pick me up before I even made it to the bridge.

This is one of the many reasons that I am so excited and grateful that I am now training to run/walk the Nike Women’s half marathon with you all. It will be such a huge milestone for me in my road to recovery. At this point, I am still very weak and nauseous, and a two-mile walk is extremely difficult. Training will be tough, as it will be for all of us, but it means so much to me that we will do it together. Train together. And cross the finish line together. It will be such a victory for me, for all of you, and for LLS. Let’s go team!

Below are some photos of me hiking during a recent road trip to visit my brother in Colorado, my parents at the San Francisco Marathon 5K, and my newest hairdo.

Sending lots of love and strength,