Karen Nicholson's world was turned upside down when on August 22, 2016, a month before her wedding, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
She fought bravely and fiercely through her extensive treatment with an incredible amount of positivity and motivation. After being in and out of hospital for months she achieved remission.
Now, 10 months after her initial diagnosis, her Leukemia is back. She is gearing up for another fight, this time undergoing chemotheraphy and a stem cell transplant.
For the last 10 months Karen has been unable to work, and her family has spent many hours, days, weeks and months traveling and staying in a different province to support her.
As a close friend to Karen for many years I can tell you she is the first to help out anyone else and the last to ask for help herself, which is why I'm doing it on her behalf.
She is determined, strong, and one hell of a fighter. The admiration I have for her strength and courage while maintaining her good natured spirit throughout this difficult journey is indescribable. She is my hero.
Any donation, along with your love and prayers, will help her to navigate this journey. Funds raised will go towards helping with travel, accomodations, supplies for homecare and Karen's student loan.
We appreciate anything that you can give.
For a few months Karen had been feeling extremely tired and had pounding headaches. She attributed this to long hours working as a nurse and training for a marathon, so she pushed through. She began to notice small bruises which grew and would not go away.
In August 2016, Karen was in PEI for a visit, celebrating her upcoming wedding.
Her parents noticed how pale she was and the bruising and exhaustion continued. Her husband convinced her to see her family doctor in PEI before returning to Toronto days later. After explaining her symptoms, she was given a blood test. That evening she was called and told the blood work was really not good. She was asked to sit with someone and they explained that it was Leukemia.
Karen was told to go to the Emergency Room immediately. Following three blood transfusions, she traveled to Halifax overnight to meet with a Hematologist at the Victoria General Hospital early the next day.
On August 23, 2016, one month before her wedding in Ontario, Karen was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
Following four weeks of Chemotherapy in hospital, Karen had a break from treatment and had a small wedding surrounded by family and friends in Halifax on September 22, 2016.
The morning after her wedding, Karen went to the hospital for a bone biopsy. The next day she received a call that the marrow was in remission (less than 5% blast cells).
For four months after, Karen remained in hospital undergoing Chemotherapy and its side effects -- rhidors, pain and sepsis three times. Her husband (living in Mississauga, ON) travelled back and forth, her parents (living in PEI) lived at various places in Halifax, and Karen was unable to be more than 30 minutes away from the hospital when she was out.
On December 28, 2016 Karen was discharged home to PEI to recover and rest with her family.
On February 15, 2017, Karen returned to Toronto, ON to continue recovering will a goal to return to work in September.
Follow up bone marrow biopsises looking at specific genes to detect possible relapse did not work successfully. First was in remission and the next two were inconclusive. The next was diagnostic, which the doctor retested as he thought it could be a technical error. The last came back diagnostic as well.
On June 8, 2017 a repeat bone marrow was done and blood confirmed Leukemia was back at 70% in her bone marrow.
Now, Karen needs to return to hospital (this time in ON) to get a port put in, other tests to check her heart and baseline bloodwork. Then she will undergo more intensive and targeted chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Following the transplant she will be in hospital for four to six weeks, followed by a long recovery at home.