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Santa Barbara Team In Training

From Stephanie Waxman





September 26, 2013
Luck and Heroes


The day I learned that they found an anonymous unrelated stem cell donor that was a perfect 10 out of 10 match for me was a very emotional day—happy tears for the first time since my diagnosis. Before that day last September, there was fear and anxiety that I wouldn’t find a match, and wouldn’t have a chance to survive my disease. But then I found out that not only did I have one perfect match, I had four, which no one at the hospital had ever heard of happening before. How lucky am I?

At this time last year I prepared to go into the hospital for a week of full body radiation – lying on the floor with a huge machine above me and iron plates on my chest to protect my lungs, twice a day for two hours at a time for a week – and then intensive chemotherapy. I was hooked up to so many bags of toxic chemicals that they had to bring in a second IV machine, which quickly became known as my “Tower of Power.” All of it meant to kill off my bone marrow and blood cells and prepare my body for transplant.

Through it all, I couldn’t stop thinking about my donor. All I knew about him was that he was a 27-­-year old guy who was donating stem cells to save my life. Me, a stranger to him. It still leaves me in awe whenever I think about it, which is often.

That is still all I know. For one year post-­-transplant, I am allowed no contact with my donor. But after one year, if both parties agree, we can contact each other. I cannot wait, and only hope that he wants to meet me as badly as I want to meet him.

My dear friend Jeff was recently told that he is a perfect match for a woman with an acute Leukemia who desperately needs a transplant. As I hear about Jeff’s journey from the donor’s side, it amazes me that he will save a life. It brings me back to those days when I was in the hospital waiting, wondering who my hero was, where was he, what was he doing at that moment? In this moment?

October is fast approaching. I cannot believe it is almost here. There will be so many milestones to celebrate. My “new birthday” or one-­-year transplant anniversary on October 2nd. The chance to talk to my donor for the very first time. Team Stephanie coming together in San Francisco for a weekend of love and celebration. And of course, the Nike marathon, which we will all do together, as one…. well, as one team with varying levels of speed—I’ll bring up the rear!

I have never been more grateful of everyone and everything in my life. I am one lucky girl. And you all are the reason. Thank you.