Hello all and welcome to the June 2022 edition of Vital Connection.
In each of my messages to you, I have shared my heartfelt gratitude for the work you do to ensure blood is available for patients in need. Your unwavering dedication is truly inspiring. My expression of gratitude has become very personal over this last year.
In May of 2021, the twenty-eight-year-old daughter of one of my oldest and dearest friends was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). As you can imagine, the news was absolutely devastating to her family and friends. Following the lead of this vibrant young lady, Alex, we rallied around her and became very confident she would win this fight and soon be cancer free.
Unfortunately, her cancer was aggressive, her fight was extremely difficult, and her medical treatments were ineffective in ridding her frail body of cancer. In September of last year, she was admitted to hospice and sent home to enjoy her final days surrounded by the people who love her most. We spent time with her, laughing and crying, but not quite ready to say good-bye. And neither was Alex.
Several weeks passed and her body unexpectedly rebounded. Filled with hope and optimism, she headed to San Francisco to begin a clinical trial. Unfortunately, her hopes were dashed quickly as she was unable to proceed due to discouraging blood test results. As her cancer fighting medical treatment continued, she became a possible candidate for a different clinical trial. Sadly, and once again, she was unable to move forward. No one was willing to give up, but it was becoming clear that her options were running out. Through all these setbacks, Alex continued to rely on the generosity of dedicated blood drive coordinators and healthy blood donors to help keep her alive while her medical team searched for a treatment. But her story isn’t over yet.
After 9 rounds of chemotherapy, 2 inhibitor drugs (for mutations Alex developed along her journey), 10 rounds of radiation, 13 bone marrow biopsies, 1 liver biopsy, 2 bronchoscopies, 3 cases of pneumonia, countless blood draws, lengthy hospitals stays and more blood transfusions than anyone can even begin to count, Alex is still here with us today. She is currently enrolled in an advanced clinical trial. And with tears of joy, I am happy to share that she received a lifesaving stem cell transplant. Alex’s new stems cells were donated to her by her mom – my friend, Gail.
The road to recovery remains long and uncertain. She may experience some setbacks, and she will absolutely require multiple blood transfusions during her recovery as her new stem cells begin to do their job. Alex is completely dependent on the generosity of you and your committed blood donors.
From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all the patients and their families you have impacted and will impact in the future, thank you. We are eternally grateful. You make it possible for a young woman to dream about her wedding, plan future travel to exciting destinations, and spend time with loving family and friends.
Because of you, life doesn’t stop.
Mitzy P. Edgecomb
Vice President of Donor Recruitment