As a leukemia survivor I am grateful that I am able to participate in the Jim Gibbons 5K Run/3K walk, it amazes me every day about how far I have come. While I was sick my sister Debbie connected with several people from the Leukemia Research Foundation and we attended a few seminars so that we could better understand my cancer and see how others were dealing with this illness. I was shocked to learn how many have this type of cancer and how little was being done to support the research and donation of stem cells.
I was diagnosed mid-February 2012 with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, my remission was brief and the leukemia came back full force in July 2013. After surviving many more months of chemotherapy, and health problems, Be-the-Match found my perfect match. Little did I know my donor would be halfway across the world.
It has been a very difficult journey but I am thankful that the transplant is working and I have now been in remission for just over two years. I was so excited when my bone marrow team told me I could finally contact my donor. I had been anticipating this moment for so long and I was so happy to connect with Pawel Romankiewicz from Poland.
I asked Pawel why he donated and this was his response:
“I gave my cells in the hopes of helping someone. The same year I donated, my daughter was born. I thought it would be a bit symbolic, we have a new life, so let’s share it. My wife Ewa pointed out that it’s amazing to do something for someone. Maybe in future one of us will be in need? Who knows?”
While my family, friends, doctors, nurses, and organizations such as the Leukemia Research Foundation and Be-The-Match were VERY important for my health and well-being, Pawel was the single piece in the puzzle that saved my life, he is my HERO.
Even though Pawel lives in Poland, my hope is to someday meet in person. THANK YOU Pawel and family for your selflessness and kindness, you have given me a new life to live.
My hope is to bring more attention to organizations such as the Leukemia Research Foundation and Be-The-Match so that more individuals such as me can have another chance at living life. I will be forever grateful to everyone who played a role in helping me to survive!!!