From Stephanie Waxman
What LLS Means To Me
May 23, 2013
When I was diagnosed with Leukemia last June, my entire world was turned upside down. I was told I had a very advanced and aggressive cancer, an unbelievable diagnosis for a healthy 31-year old who ran the New York Marathon months earlier. Within days after being admitted to the hospital, I learned that I was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. With no full sibling to test for a match, it was up to chance that there was someone in the system that could save my life. I also learned that I would have to undergo some of the most intense chemotherapy given to cancer patients, full body radiation and would lose my ability to have children. I was given a 30% chance of survival, based on statistics.
Until a match was found, the only thing keeping me alive was a new, targeted chemotherapy drug called Disatinib, which was discovered through research funded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
One of the first voices that helped calm my fears was a call from my LLS First Connection. Kelley had been through a very similar diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan five years prior, and was now a healthy young woman getting ready to run her first marathon – the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. She described in detail everything that I would go through – how did the hair loss thing happen, what was radiation actually like, how did it all feel? This was the beginning of my understanding of what I was going to go through, and my confidence that I too would get through this and be running marathons again. LLS First Connection gave me hope when I desperately needed it.
That first week in the hospital, two members of Team In Training Santa Barbara drove up to San Francisco to deliver a TNT jersey signed by all members of the team. My mom had been a part of TNT in Santa Barbara for 6 years, with no direct connection to blood cancer until now. From that moment, I felt the continuous love, support and encouragement from TNT – all of the cards that arrived in the mail daily and the photos of the team celebrating each of my successes, including throwing a birthday party on the day of my transplant. The team raised an enormous amount of funds for LLS – and kept me feeling positive, optimistic, and incredibly loved and supported.
LLS continued to provide invaluable information and support to my family and me throughout treatment. LLS felt like a friend we could depend on, when nothing made sense, or when we felt alone. LLS also provided financial support as I have spent almost a year now out of work due to treatments and am faced with tremendous medical bills.
In short, LLS has been by our side every step of this journey. That is why my family and I are so thrilled that you have chosen to be a part of Team Stephanie, to help us raise money, awareness, and give back to this amazing organization.
Let’s go team!!!