Thursday, March 6, 2014

Take the Bitter with the Sweet

My friend and sorority sister April died this week after a long battle with leukemia. April was a fighter. She was a tough cookie. I fully believed that she was going to pull through this. And then she didn't. After having a really rough go after a bone marrow transplant, April seemed to rally, then was abruptly admitted to the hospital, ultimately with pneumonia, and quickly declined. She documented her plight on the Team April Deloach Facebook page. Her words were read by thousands as she fought. It was a window into her soul.

April has a high school sweetheart husband and two young kids who will now go on and grow up without her. It is just so sad and unfair. They will go on, and I am certain they will be fine people, lead by the example of her love and faith, but the pain will remain. It will be passed down to grandchildren who never had the chance to know her.

Last March, because of April's illness and search to find a bone marrow donor, I signed up for the Be the Match registry. The program matches up potential bone marrow donors and recipients. To my surprise, I was called in October as a potential donor, and I learned in early December that I was the closest match for a boy with leukemia. In late January, I flew to Washington D.C. to donate stem cells. Today, I learned that my cells have engrafted to my recipient. He is doing well and has been discharged from the hospital. Additionaly, he is showing no signs of Graft vs. Host disease, the disease that ravaged April in the months post-transplant. It strikes me that this person has been giving a second chance at life because of April. Her diagnosis set in motion the steps that led me to donating stem cells. I am sure that there are many more instances where April's life and now death has impacted and will continue to impact the lives of others.

I am so, so glad to hear this news. My prayer is that this person is able to go on to live a healthy, full life. And at the same time, I feel a little hollow inside. I am absolutely heartbroken for April and for the family that she has left behind. We will travel to Jackson tomorrow to celebrate her life and mourn our loss.

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