Greetings, dear donors, friends, family, and followers,
I come bearing difficult news. I, Elizabeth Almen Stone, am walking a race on Sunday to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s research efforts. But as my 6-month scans have revealed, my cancer is back.
I have relapsed. My disease is recurrent. My cancer is persistent and evil and has a greater chance of killing me than ever before. And depending on how my next set of treatments go, that might be much sooner than we had been hoping. It’s not hopeless, but the odds for a complete cure are rather… low. Lower than before. By a good margin.
It’s reappeared in my spleen (where it’s never been before) and around my thymus gland (near where it has appeared both times before in my right axilla/armpit). And if the next treatment isn’t successful (an allogeneic stem cell transplant, aka, receiving someone else’s bone marrow to replace mine), there are no proven effective cures.
I am still walking the race. I am still raising funds. If anything’s changed, it’s that I feel even more strongly that I must not let a single day go wasted, because my expected lifespan has statistically shrunk to possibly a few years only, if treatment fails. At the earliest, the transplant could happen in August or September. So we’ll get to that, and my treatments leading up to it, in a different post.
This has been a hard week waiting for the news, and a hard day of talking with my oncologist and family. But life goes on. And I choose to live as much of that life as I have. And that means finishing this race. Doing what I can to help fund research for myself and fellow patients. My multiple relapses may be rare, but I know there are others like me out there, about to fall off of the edge of known treatment options. And I’ll fight for that.
If you’ve already donated to the cause, thank you and I send you so much love. I’ve enjoyed making my final ribbons this week to honor those loved ones of donors, and I will make more tomorrow in my final batch.
If you’d like to help but don’t have the funds, please consider joining the National Bone Marrow Registry (Be the Match), which would enable you to painlessly donate your stem cells to patients like me looking for a match. The New York Times just posted a great article this week about how people still believe donating bone marrow is a very painful and invasive process, but that’s simply not true anymore, in case you need convincing. I was actually a donor once upon a time (it was truly painless to join the registry), but I am now unable lest I infect others with the cancer.