My life changed on December 4, 2016 when the vision in my right eye suddenly became blurry. I knew this was not normal and became concerned so I decided to go to Urgent Care. When I went in the doctor there told me to get to the emergency room as soon as possible. My resting heart rate was above 120, my blood pressure was through the roof, and I was almost blind in one eye. He feared I might have a blood clot.
We rushed to the emergency room and I was taken in almost immediately. After running blood work, the doctor there told me something no one wants to ever hear. "Your white blood cell count is above 200,000. Normal count is between 4 and 10 thousand. You have leukemia and this is very serious."
A million questions ran through my mind at this point and I was in complete shock. What would happen to me? What about my husband and kids? How did I get leukemia? The doctor said it was just plain ol' bad luck! What started as a normal Sunday was turning into a nightmare. Just hours earlier I was planning on decorating the Christmas tree with the kids and enjoying a quiet evening. Now, they were preparing to transfer me to USC two hours from home and family to get the treatment I needed.
The wonderful doctors at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles were able to get my blood count down as that was the immediate danger. The excess white blood cells had clogged my blood making it in their words "very thick." The blood vessels in the eye are very small and not enough blood could squeeze into the small vessels in the eye, starving it of blood and oxygen, causing the changes in vision.
Test after test have revealed my leukemia to be a bit complex as they say I have 2 different types of leukemia cells in my blood, myeloid and lymphocytic. I have been diagnosed with mixed lineage acute leukemia, also sometimes called biphenotypic acute leukemia. Once they figured this out, they immediately began a chemotherapy regimen aimed at killing as much of the leukemia as possible with the end goal of getting me into remission. It is very likely that I will also need a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant to keep it in remission.
Luckily my husband and I have insurance through his employer. We are very lucky in that regard, but just like most policies the deductibles are rather high.
Throughout this whole ordeal my husband Aaron has been by my side, spending his nights in the hospital room with me. I am extremely grateful for his support as I don't have any family in Los Angeles and having him here with me has kept me in good spirits. I can't imagine going through this alone. I will be here at least a month if not longer depending on the course of treatment and how my body responds. He has taken off some time from work but it has been unpaid time off.
We bought our first house in May of this year and his taking time off of work is beginning to sting financially. I understand he will have to go back soon in order to maintain our health benefits, etc...
It is very humbling to ask for help, and I appreciate anything you may be willing to donate. Any money gathered will be used to help pay deductibles for treatment, costs of medications that may not be covered, transportation costs to and from Bakersfield where we live, and maybe catch up on some bills to keep the 4 walls of our home up and running so I still have a home to go back to when treatment is over.
I know that I have a long road ahead of me with the treatments planned and possibly a transplant in my future. I am so thankful for the support of my family and friends who have been there for me as I fight this.
I look forward to beating this awful disease. I am staying strong and optimistic in these hardest of times. I have to make it for the sake of my children. I miss them so much and can't wait to get out of the hospital so I can hug them. It has been especially hard not being around my kids during the holiday season.
Thank you for your help. God bless you.
- Mike L
- Caitlin Chapin
- Olivia Kaiser
- Russell Williford
- Aunt Josie
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