I spent four years of my life misdiagnosed, thinking that I had chronic psoriasis. It was with the help of Dr. Milton Moore of Moore Unique Dermatology that I was correctly diagnosed and referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center. On March 11, 2009 I was told by Dr. Madeline Duvic of Dermatology in the Melanoma and skin clinic of MD Anderson that the only way I could beat CTCL was to undergo a bone marrow/ stem cell transplant.
My two sisters were quickly typed but were found only to be 6 out of 10 matches which are not rare for siblings as it is only a 25% chance that siblings share the same HLA type. My team of doctors and stem cell coordinator then turned to the National Bone Marrow Program to find a match for me as every moment was crucial. On August 27, 2009 I received my second chance at life and a new birthday ( which I celebrate every year) when I received a bone marrow transplant from my Donor Technical Sargent, Allen Horton who actively serves in the U.S. Air force in Combat Arms at the Eielson base in North Pole, Alaska.
On April 24, 2013 in City Centre I had the privilege of meeting Allen during his vacation in Houston. It was one of the most memorable days of my life to be able to stand face to face with the man who saved my life. We both shared our stories of our journeys of recipient and donor and we both could not help but feel as though we had been friends for years. Though Allen is stationed in Alaska we talk every week and plan to make visits to each other throughout the year.
Since my transplant I have returned back to the University of Houston where I will graduate in December with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. I plan to further my education and become a nurse, as it is now my dream to impact many patients' lives as mine was impacted by the generosity and care shown by those who take care of me during my many hospital stays. I am back to spending time with my family and close friends as well enjoying teaching my Sunday school class at Christ Healing Evangelical Church.
I also recently became a volunteer for the National Bone Marrow Program and supporter of Pretty Girls With Cancer (PGWC) a non-profit organization that encourages women to stay pretty, powerful, and positive through their battle with cancer. I have made it my mission in life to share my story with as many people as possible and to get the awareness out about the importance of donors in our society.
I am currently working on starting a non-profit for young adults in their 20's and 30's that are battling cancer. It is my hope that through this organization I will be able to bring together young adults and encourage them to live their lives to the fullest despite their diagnoses. Whether it is helping out at drives to spread the word about the importance of bone marrow donors or taking the time out to talk to those who are newly diagnosed, I am reminded that I am able to do all these things because someone made the commitment to save my life!