In 1994, just one year after I graduated from Great Falls High School, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). My oncologist was Dr. Grant Harrer, based in Great Falls, Montana. It was determined that I needed a bone marrow transplant to fight my Leukemia. I waited over a year to find a matching donor and the doctors finally decided my Dad was as close of a match as I would find. I had to travel to Seattle, Washington’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in order to seek the treatment that I needed. After two bone marrow transplants that didn’t take, I was one of the first people ever to have a stem cell transplant – and it worked! I am cancer free to this day and forever grateful for the doctors, nurses, family and friends that helped me along the way.
If cancer has taught me anything, it is to never give up – after waiting a year for a matching donor, at times I began to lose hope that I would not survive my battle. However, I made it and because of my experience, I encourage anyone and everyone that can, to sign up to see if you are a match for someone fighting a deadly disease such as cancer.
I was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana and I am thankful for the support that my community has given me over the years.
I can’t imagine those families that have to travel long-distances for treatment without a support system close like I had. The cancer patient housing facility will be a blessing to those undergoing treatment locally as well as far away. It is important for family to be near during treatment, especially cancer.