A Letter to My Donor: A CLL Patient Story

Disclaimer: This blog post has been republished with permission from the author. To visit the original blog site, click here.

Written by Tamara Fowler

Where do I begin?  Thank you for saving my life!  I am about to celebrate the one- year anniversary or the first “re-birthday” of my stem cell transplant.  It wouldn’t have happened without you.  While I’m sure there could have been other people who could have been adequate matches, you were a perfect match and that has made this process much easier and more effective than it could have been otherwise.

When we were told that I had leukemia, I had been re-married to my high school sweetheart for just over a year when I was diagnosed.  It was quite a blow.  We had dreams of growing old together, and now we were faced with the possibility of only having a mere three years.  Because I had the type of CLL that had all the negative prognostic markers (17p deletion, unmutated, CD38, ZAP 70 positive, and ALC [Absolute Lymphocyte Count] doubling time of less than a year), I did not have time to sit around and wait for them to invent a new drug that might cure me.  So we took the aggressive route and went directly for the stem cell transplant.  So far, it has worked.  I am in remission.  J

I don’t know if you are a follower of Christ or not, but it was the power of prayer and God’s grace, love, and mercy that saw me through this very long year and a half.  His Word has brought comfort and peace and carried me through some very dark days.  There were many people praying for you as well, before you ever said yes…and of course afterwards.

My husband, Paul, was…is my amazing caregiver.  It is a task that I will probably never quite fully comprehend, until the day that I might be given that job.  He selflessly took care of me and everything else in our life while holding down his job and taking care of our home.  We stayed with my mother for the first 100 days after I got out of the hospital because it was closer to the hospital, where I had to go back to everyday, then three times per week.  The two of them sacrificed themselves in so many ways in taking care of me.  But again, none of that would have happened if you hadn’t been willing to give.

I have two grown children, four step-children, and three beautiful grandchildren (Dana, 5; Caleb, 3; Ethan, 2).  I am their Tadee, and they are my delight.  (Since this was written, we have added another grandson, Jonah…four months old.)

I didn’t think my relationship with my husband could have gotten any better, but it has only gotten stronger throughout this past almost two years.  Last year, we spent my birthday and our anniversary in the hospital.  We are looking forward to taking a short trip together this year, actually in just a few weeks, to celebrate our life together…a life that we will hopefully now be able to enjoy for many more years to come.  Thanks to you, to our medical team, the support of family and friends, and to our amazing God.

We would love to meet you someday and thank you in person.  Taking you to dinner seems the very least we could do!

So, M-47, I owe my life to you.  Paul and I owe our future to you.  My children and grandchildren owe a lifetime of memories to you.  My mother didn’t have to have her heart broken by losing a child because you gave.  Thank you for giving life-giving cells.  It touched more lives than you’ll ever know.

About the Author:

My name is Tamara Joy Fowler and, in the summer of 2011, I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia with 17p deletion, ZAP 70 positive, IGHV unmutated. This all came as quite a shock!  I was a healthy, happy 50 year-old lady who ate right, exercised, and took Geritol everyday.  Just kidding about the Geritol, but you get the idea.  I have been married since 2010 to my high school sweetheart and have had every intention of living and loving to a ripe old age.  I still do.  There just seems to be some complications that have to be taken care of first.  This is the story of our journey.  It is “our” journey because I am not alone.  My sweet husband Paul, our children and grandchildren, and our entire family and many friends are part of this journey.  Each one touches my life in a different way, and I have had the blessing and opportunity to be a part of theirs.  I am one of God’s children and rest my faith and trust in Him.  I have seen miracles galore over the years.  I, and thankfully many others, am praying for one more.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email