Sean and I have been together 10 years. We met through a mutual friend just after high school, and after dating for quite some time we were married in 2008. We weren’t always what some would consider fitness fanatics. Although Sean was on the football and wrestling teams in high school, and we knew that it is important to exercise and eat ‘right,’ we didn’t really know what we were doing. Like most people, we thought that if we worked out and ate a sensible diet, we were doing the right thing. We didn’t fully understand the impact our food choices had on our health, and we really didn’t know any better.
We had just purchased a new home in the summer of 2012. Sean owned his own business, everything was going great in our lives, and we were happy. One Thursday, in early August, Sean came home from work feeling exhausted. Since he works outside and it's so stinking hot here it's not uncommon for him to feel that way. He drank lots of water, had some Gatorade and ate a big dinner. Friday morning he woke up and was still not feeling well so he decided to stay home from work to sleep it off. When I came home to check on him, he still was not feeling well so we went to urgent care. They did a bunch of diagnostic tests, took some blood and decided there was nothing to be too concerned about. They sent us home and said they would call the next day with the blood results. The next day we slept in and Sean was feeling fine so we went on with our normal Saturday routine. We went to the gym, got coffee, Sean headed to work and I headed home to clean house. About an hour later I got a call from Sean. He said urgent care called and he needed to get to the ER right away. He was severely anemic and he needed more tests. When we got to the hospital they drew his blood again to get a second opinion. A few hours later, we received a visit from two doctors. When they came in with chairs and closed the curtain we knew the news wasn’t going to be good. They told us Sean was going to require a blood transfusion for the anemia and that it was a possibility Sean could have a type of blood cancer. More testing needed to be done to be sure. We stayed the weekend at the hospital and Sean underwent a bone marrow biopsy on Monday. The next day the oncologist called Sean and advised he definitely had cancer and wanted to start treatment right away.
By Wednesday afternoon we were admitted to the oncology unit at Banner Baywood. Sean underwent his first round of chemo treatment (induction chemo) and we were home after eight days. The search began for a marrow donor and we were referred to the Mayo Clinic for the inevitable bone marrow/stem cell transplant. On August 24th, we met with the oncologist at the Mayo Clinic. We were told Sean had the worst type of Leukemia possible and that the first round of induction chemo didn’t work like as it should have. Sean was re-admitted to the hospital for another round of induction chemo. This time, with a new chemo-cocktail and additional complications, we were in the hospital for five weeks. After a couple weeks of being home, we were advised a marrow/stem cell donor was found and we began making arrangements to begin the transplant process at the Mayo Clinic. Sean was admitted to Mayo in late October and received his transplant on November 2nd. During the time he was in the hospital Sean would walk around as much as possible and while at the Mayo Clinic he was even able to get a treadmill in the room. He was able to work out with resistance bands when he felt up to it. Sean’s oncologists were so impressed by his dedication to stay active through the process. After the transplant it was a waiting game. We had to wait for Sean’s blood counts to come up before they would discharge him. In the meantime, Sean kept as active as he could. It helped him stay focused on getting better and leaving the hospital. Just before Thanksgiving he was finally discharged and we were ready to begin life with a ‘new normal.’
If you are interested in more information about the beginning of our journey, you can read our personal blog.