September 16 Was World Marrow Donor Day: Loriana’s Story

Loriana has been through more than most. But she hasn’t done it alone.

Like so many who have had cancer, Loriana’s battle is a long and complex one. Though she has faced many unforeseen obstacles, her loved ones—or her “fans,” as she calls them—have been by her side the whole time.

Source: Loriana

“Put your armor on.” Those are the words Loriana heard from her doctor when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Little did she know the battle she was about to face.

In 2014, she received a bone marrow transplant (BMT) to treat her leukemia. While a BMT can cure certain blood cancers, there are serious complications that can arise, such as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a life-threatening condition that occurs when donor cells attack the recipient’s organs and tissues after a BMT. The damage caused by GVHD can severely impact a person’s daily life, and for some, it can even be deadly.

At the time, Loriana knew there was a chance she could develop GVHD post-transplant. Not long after surgery, she began to notice rashes and started to experience stomach issues—both potential signs of GVHD.

Loriana was diagnosed with acute GVHD, which ultimately progressed to chronic GVHD. At the time of diagnosis, her everyday life changed dramatically. It became consumed by a maze of doctors’ visits and specialist appointments. Her work and interests in life fell by the wayside. Yet through it all, she struggled the most when seeing the impact her GVHD had on her husband and son.

It wasn’t until Loriana found a healthcare team who knew how to address GVHD and her physical and emotional symptoms that she started to feel like she had a path forward that gave her hope. She became empowered to educate herself about GVHD, ask questions, and proactively discuss and track symptoms.

“I needed to continue to push for more answers to my questions. And there were so many days I just wanted to give up. But my son—my biggest fan— would lift me up and inspire me to stay in the game. He really gave me purpose.”

Today, Loriana is doing everything in her power to improve outcomes for other patients and support them on their journeys. She is teaming up with soccer legend, Mia Hamm, who has been a BMT advocate since she lost her brother due to a BMT complication, and Incyte, to raise awareness of GVHD and encourage those on their BMT journey to learn about GVHD and its associated symptoms.

“I want to urge anyone on their own BMT journey or living with GVHD to stay vigilant when monitoring for signs and symptoms and to act quickly, because early action to manage GVHD and its symptoms may help prevent long-term consequences.”

No matter where Loriana’s GVHD journey leads her, she will always find strength through the support of her fans. To learn why it’s important to speak up and ask questions, educate yourself about GVHD and review helpful resources, visit GVHDNow.com/fans.

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