Most of you know me as the owner of Asiago Catering and both Asiago Skillets. I was diagnosed with AML Leukemia this past January 2017. I wasn’t given much hope at the local hospitals in Florida, so I decided I would go to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. My father lives close by, so it just made sense.
We arrived about 6 a.m. the first day, I had tests all day and was admitted that night. They put me on an FDA-approved aggressive chemo treatment called CLIA. My hair fell out, and I got very sick.
After three months, they decided I needed to do a stem cell transplant ASAP. They found a perfect match for me, a 19-year-old male from overseas. I had my transplant on May 16, 2017.
I was in the hospital for over 30 days straight. Then I stayed in a medical apartment next to the hospital for another 60-plus days. The transplant was a success. My body accepted the donor cells, and I soon started to make my own blood and platelets again. And my blood type even changed to the donor’s type. I did and still do have minimal GVHD. The hospital did a bone marrow biopsy and found zero cancer in my body after the transplant.
Unfortunately, when I came back to Texas the week before Thanksgiving for my six-month checkup, the bone marrow biopsy came back with 30 percent cancer in the marrow. I am actually writing this from a hospital bed in MD Anderson waiting on blood and platelet transfusions.
I will be admitted to start a clinical trial treatment plan, and once they are able to get the cancer back into remission, I will need to do another stem cell transplant. If you have a transplant with an active disease, and not in remission, the chances for relapse are great. The first one I did I had 21 percent active disease. This time, we will wait until I am in remission before we do another transplant.
I have told you all this to let everyone know how important this event is to me. I’ve had to wait hours upon hours for platelet transfusion because of shortages. I’ve seen other patients like myself that need a stem cell match for a transplant, but they haven’t found one yet.
I was lucky. It’s hard enough going through all this, but then to hear “We can’t find you a match” makes me angry. That’s why I am asking, begging, pleading for people to register to be a donor with Be the Match. It’s just a cotton swab of your mouth to get you on the registry.
Orange Bash on the Beach will be held at the Wyndham Garden Hotel on Okaloosa Island Sunday, Jan. 14, from 1 to 5 p.m. in honor of Ms. Young and her continuing fight. The event triples as a blood drive, bone marrow and stem cell drive, and Leukemia awareness event. More at Facebook.com/BashOnTheBeach.