The road less traveled seems to be the way I have always wanted to live my life. Whether it was when I was 7 years old, and in bed every night at 8 pm year round to make the 7 am bell for swim practice, while my friends played tag in the court across the street or flying to 5 cities in 4 days on a Dillards world tour, building relationships, and businesses that would pave the wave for my long term career growth or finally making the move to France to pursue my dream of becoming Parisian while studying for my MBA. I have always been up for the challenge and taking the road that most were not interested in taking, with the hopes that I would be able to live my life to fullest and with no regrets. I have never been afraid of the road less traveled and I never will be.
In late August 2016, just 4 months after returning to the US from France and finishing my MBA studies, I was given a diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. As it came as shock, I was not afraid of it, I was ready to fight it and take back my life and my road less traveled. My family and I took on the challenge together, as this was not a fight to go alone, and it changed my life for the better. I met amazing people throughout my cancer journey of 7+ months in and out the hospital as well as the outpatient infusion clinic. Some friendships that I know I will have forever. Shortly after treatments ended and I recovered from the last bout of chemotherapy, I was able to have 9 months of my life back: a new life, with new perspective, awareness and presence. Unfortunately as I felt my life was just beginning again as 2018 rolled around I was re-diagnosed in the early stages of relapse of AML.
As crazy as this will sound, I felt relief. I had the AML relapse of 40% possibility looming over my head for quite sometime, specifically because my molecular tests always came back with some sign of residual disease. In the beginning, I chalked it up to body chemistry and went on living my life. Later, as my next biopsy approached, I started to think, is a stem cell transplant the only way to put this behind me for good? To never look back at the AML coming back and move into the next chapter of my life, cancer free and with more soul and spiritual growth than I ever imagined? I was scared of the what some considered transplant “the wild wild west,” but in truth the answer was yes…….I wanted to be liberated and I wanted new cells, healthy cells and I knew in my heart, they would be my twin brothers. My from birth best friend……
It is April 6th, we are 18 days away from my stem cell transplant. My twin brother Tony, has been by my side every step of the way. From reading every single material handed to him, to answering questions in my pre-transplant appointment with my Doctor that I could not remember, to being willing to participate in more out of the box clinical studies to help prevent the most common complication of transplant GVHD. His dedication to me getting better is remarkable and should be the standard for all sibling donors who are a Match. I am proud and honored to say he is my brother, my life saver but most importantly he is my best friend. He keeps me calm when I am uptight and frustrated and keeps me laughing when things get a little too heavy at home. In one of the darkest moments of my life, I have light every single day with him and in reality, it does not seem so dark anymore.
This is my story of the journey to the One and Allie….I hope you follow along to see what beauty lies ahead.