In the summer of 2013 our family welcomed the second child among the 4 daughters in our family, Cheri became an aunt for the second time! It was one of the happiest moments in our lives.
(July 4th, 2013)
What we didn’t know was how our lives would change in just a month. In late July Cheri started to feel very fatigued and sore. Since she lives in a woodsy area we were naturally concerned about her possibly having lymes disease. I cannot express to you the heartbreak that afternoon when her family doctor called to tell her it was Leukemia. Cheri left her job that day and has not been back to work since. She was told to not go home, but to go directly to her local hospital. By that evening the diagnosis was confirmed. Within a week Cheri was transferred to University of Pennsylvania Hospital, nearly an hour away from home. It was there that she immediately began her first round of chemo and where the gene studies began to narrow down her Leukemia. It was determined that she had Acute Myeloid Leukemia or AML for short and her Leukemia was caused by a mutation of her FLT3 gene - essentially her cancer genome.
Because of her Leukemia type any kind of treatment meant inpatient treatment at UPenn. When Cheri left work that day in August she did not return home until early October. Cheri turned 30 just a few days after returning home, on October 11th.
It was only a day or so later that we learned the chemo had failed and she would need a second, more intensive round of chemotherapy. Cheri celebrated her second wedding anniversary at UPenn, starting her second round of chemo. She did not return home until late November, blessing us for Thanksgiving. I can assure you there was no louder prayer for thanks that evening.
Shortly after Thanksgiving we learned that the second round of chemo had failed and that our next option was to see if she could get into a clinical trial. Thankfully she was going to one of the best hospitals on the east coast and there was a trial open for her specific gene mutation. She started that therapy right away! One of the best parts of being on the trial was that Cheri was allowed to stay home and recoup from her two previous rounds of chemo and adjust to the trial medication. The hope for the trial medication was that it would control her mutation enough to allow for a stem cell transplant.
That Christmas was so different from any other we had ever had. It was difficult for everyone not to be angry at how much Cheri had lost, how much she had to fight and go through while at the same time being so blessed for the time we live in and the medicine/research available today. I think it is a delicate balance and no two days were ever the same. Through it all, Cheri has tied us all together becoming not only our inspiration but the voice in our heads.
After Christmas we learned that the trial medicine was working and Cheri would be able to have a stem cell transplant after the new year! I don’t think our family has ever cried harder or thanked God more than the day we learned about her second chance.
I wish I could say that it was all roses from there – lord knows that before this last year no one in our family knew what goes into a stem cell transplant. To prepare, Cheri had the harshest round of chemo for a week and fully body radiation for 5 days. This ensured that her entire immune system was deleted from her body. After that she received two stem cell transplants with the hope that they would battle inside her until one engrafted to her body and became her new clean immune system. The process of growing and recovering from a stem cell transplant is at least a year.
I am overjoyed to say that Cheri’s new birthday is January 17th, 2014. In early spring Cheri was released from UPenn from her longest stay yet, just over 8 weeks. In all Cheri spent nearly 5 months inpatient during her treatments. Currently, she is still working on recovering her levels since transplant and is back on her trial medication as a preventative. Cheri takes enough medicine every day to fund a small lab, including her IV medication that she has down to a science.
While the physical demands and strains on the body are relentless from this disease. I can confidently tell you that the mental anguish is worse. To be so young and lose so much it is hard to see all of the good around you. Our family goal is not only to help her fight this disease that grew but to help heal the mind with time, love, patience, and support.
(July 5, 2014)
Three rounds of chemo, full body radiation, two stem cells, and over a year of medications are some of the most expensive treatments in our country. We know that everyone is touched by cancer every day. Maybe it is your son or daughter, spouse or mother. We all know and love someone that has faced and battled this monster. Our moto has always been that we fight with Cheri and while so much of this disease means going at it alone this part can be helped; please help us help my big sister and show her that even in your darkest moment - She is never alone.
We want to thank everyone who has become a fighter with Cheri - without your support this fight would have been much different.
Every penny donated here will go directly to her $20,000+ in medical bills. If you are unable to donate financially please go to www.bethematch.org to register yourself as a donor/supporter to hopefully one day save someone’s Cheri.
Thank you from the entire Rogers family!!
- Eddie Vanderhoof
- Lisa Bible
- Adam Barker
- Robert King
- Walter P. Telly
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