2017 sure has been one bumpy road for the Truax family. It all started in January, when Alex just wasn't feeling like himself, and had finally scheduled a check up later in the month to see if there was anything wrong with him. He was very frustrated that even moderate labor would cause his shins and feet to swell and become very painful throughout the day; enough was enough. Unfortunately for him, it took three separate doctor visits over the course of 2 months, and an insistence from his fiance, Kelsey, for his general physician to finally refer him to a nephrologist, (who suspected he may have Kidney disease) who then ordered advanced blood work to see if there was anything out of the ordinary. There was.
Alex later received a call that Friday night, that his white blood cell count was over 300,000 per microliter (normal range is 4.5 to 11) and that he should go to the emergency room right away. Alex was hesitant because he has been notoriously frugal when it comes to spending money on an ER visit. The doctor on-call looked over the blood test results and asked the young couple to stay the night for more trials and 2nd opinions. Later that night, they heard the news. Alex had cancer.
Upon hearing about the diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) near the end of March, the then engaged couple knew it was going to be a journey through hell and back. It was bittersweet news for them to then learn that this type of leukemia is very treatable, with oral chemotherapy like Imatinub, and that many people can live a normal, healthy lives when taking these miracle pills daily. The monthly prescription was very expensive, but the cost of living is worth every penny.
Understandably, this was a huge life changer and one Alex knew he would just have to cope with. However, this never stopped Kelsey and him from living life and continuing to follow through with their marriage, on May 13th. After the wedding they were still optimistic and we're hoping to follow through with their plans of starting a family very soon, but for now, it was time for them to just escape reality for a bit and have some fun on their vacation as husband and wife. After the trip, Alex was finally able to make it back to work, for 2 weeks that is. The newlyweds knew that something was wrong again, shortly after the honeymoon, when Alex was experiencing severe pain in his lower extremities which eventually caused him to be hospitalized once again shortly after returning home. It was not the news they wanted to hear. The oral chemotherapy drug that Alex was taking to treat his blood cancer, was not working.
Doctors had no choice but to immediately begin IV chemotherapy to reduce his white cell count ASAP, in fears that they were so high, he could pass away within 30 days. It was one of the longest times in Alex's life, being an inpatient for six weeks at St. Mary's Hospital, especially right at the beginning of summer. Without going into all the details of what happened over this time, the doctors then notified Alex and his wife that his only option at this point would be a bone marrow transplant. Alex was in good spirits, even though he had lost nearly 30 pounds, most of that being the muscle that he had trained so hard for at the gym, his favorite hobby; everyone always knew Alex as being that "buff" kind of guy. He still holds out hope that he will be able to gain that all back, once this disease is beaten, for good.
The first step was to then try Alex's brother, C.J., to see if he could be the 100% DNA match, and be Alex's transplant donor. The bad news; once C.J. was tested, he was only to be found a 50% match. The next course of action was to go to the international bone marrow registry, with help from bethematch.org. Thankfully, Alex was able to find a bone marrow donor that could potentially cure him of this leukemia. Not just one match, but actually three! Thank God that they're people out there that can give so much and expect nothing in return. These people that do this are true life savers. And I would encourage everyone that is reading this, to look into this organization and perhaps be a bone marrow donor themselves. You can be someone's hero, you can save a life.
Alex was finally released from Saint Mary's hospital, knowing that he would have to spend at least 2 months as an outpatient, coming back to the hospital daily for IV immunizations, blood, and platelets. Which brings us to this day. At this time , Friday, the 8th of September, the transplant is scheduled to be 5 weeks out down at Froedtert Medical Hospital in Milwaukee. He will once again have to go through IV chemotherapy to completely kill off his immune system, so that bone marrow transplant will take and his body won't reject it. This will then require another month or so as an inpatient at that hospital, with a then following 100 days living in the Milwaukee area, for daily visits, treatment, and testing. This will mean that it will be about 5 months Alex will be away from his home in Green Bay, living in hotels and housing accommodations. He can't be more than 30 minutes away from the hospital at any given point, within that time frame.
Unfortunately for the young couple, life doesn't cease to stop during this time, and Alex is away from work, not pulling in his normal paycheck and his wife is working just enough to be able to be with him, 2 hours away, as much as she can in the week. It is truly a blessing that she and his family can be there to help him through this journey and he doesn't have to go it alone. I believe no one could go through this kind of battle by themselves. Even the toughest of us, we all need someone to help us at some point.
Due to tremendous pressure for Kelsey and I, from friends and family, we were asked to make a crowd funding page, so that we won't have to go this road alone. Life has given us a hard hand, but I know that we will make it through this. If we can make it through this together, nothing can tear us apart. Any donation can help us and we are eternally grateful to anyone that can help in any way they can. Be that from my bone marrow transplant hero, to the donars from blood drives, that have given me blood and platelets in the hospital, from our work family who have given us so very much, there to the ones that send letters in the mail and phone calls hoping for the best, to the churches that are praying for our young family, and to God who WILL heal us. We thank you. Thank you so much.
Cancer won't win.
- Melanie Yang
- Justin Vander Meulen
- Ariel Tomasini