Stories of Hope | Page 7 | Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation

Stories of Hope

To better understand the impact of bone marrow failure, we recommend reading our illuminating human interest stories, told by the people who are living with these illnesses. Our entire community benefits from the insightful stories patients and family members share with us about their personal journeys.

Richard Zajac

Dorothy Zajac, daughter raises funds to honor father

“My Dad passed away in 2011 due to complications from MDS, and I am looking for a way to help raise funds for this cause in his memory.” With this simple email message, the idea for the South River Hope, Steps & A Cure Walk/5K Run was born! Family member and AA&MDSIF volunteer Dorothy Zajac is a busy person just like you – working hard and raising a family.  But, she was also deeply affected by bone marrow failure disease when her father Richard Zajac, known as “Dziadzius” to his...

Brittany Springer

Brittany Springer – Aplastic Anemia Patient “Just Focused on Beating It” - a Patient's Story

In February of 2011 I was 22-years-old and attending Orange Coast College. One day I began to notice that I was bruising easily. My legs were covered in bruises by the time I went to my doctor.  The doctor told me I was probably anemic and run down due to my work and school schedule. She ran a regular CBC blood test.  The next day,  I was surprised to see I had missed a call from her. It was after five o’clock so I figured I would call her the next day. I was not feeling sick - maybe a little...

Robin Grapa

Robin's spirit of adventure helps her live life to the fullest - a Patient's Story

I was a freshman in college when I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. I didn't have a bone marrow donor match, so I opted for the ATG and cyclosporine treatment. After experiencing seizures, which are a rare side effect to the treatment, I began the slow process of recovery. I felt very blessed that my blood counts began to climb, and eventually leveled out around normal and stayed there ever since. It was seven years after my treatment when my doctor mentioned "complete remission" to me. I...

Torry Yahn

Yahn Family Raises Over $400,000 for Research

It’s a terrible thing to lose a child. When 20-year-old Torry Yahn made her final request, “Mom, find out why” to her mother JoAnn, there was only one thing left to do. JoAnn took her grief and turned it into an advocacy effort that has raised over $415,000 for bone marrow failure disease research through the Torry Yahn Research Fund. Torry started to complain of headaches when she was 16. As things got worse, tests revealed she suffered from aplastic anemia. After four years of treatments,...

Ron Duncan

Ron Duncan, Texas Walk Committee - a Patient's Story

I last gave blood in December 2004.  When I went again in March 2005, I was informed that I couldn't give  and actually really needed a transfusion. Eventually I was diagnosed with pure red cell aplasia, PRCA, a very rare condition where I don't make red blood cells. I struggled with transfusions and various medications for about three years. In April 2008, I found Dr. Maciejewski at the Cleveland Clinic and a doctor at the local medical school here in Dallas. They added an additional...

Heather Putney

Heather Putney’s Trials (and Travels) with Aplastic Anemia - a Patient's Story

There is no shortage of milestones when you are healing following a bone marrow transplant.  You have the inevitable counting of days; day 21: being discharged from the hospital; day 90: having fresh produce; day 142: spending the start of Thanksgiving by jogging a 5K, day 300: biking 50 miles with a custom BMT survivor jersey to raise awareness for marrow donation; day 365: my new first birthday and a goodbye to precautions and meds; day 380: returning to work as a health care provider rather...

Ashley Oakes

Ashley Oakes – Blessed to Have Her Son, Her Family, and Her Life

It has been two-and-a-half years since being diagnosed with aplastic anemia. In September 2010, my husband, Scott, and I moved home to Vancouver, British Columbia from Calgary, Alberta where we had been living for the previous three years. I was six months pregnant and so excited to be going back to the city where all our family lived to share this wonderful time with them. We moved into a little house a few blocks from my mom and settled in to await the arrival of our little one. A few...

Kathryn Bauer

Kathryn (Kate) Bauer, Retired MDS Patient Living Life to the Fullest Since Transplant

In Kate's words: I retired from Dun & Bradstreet, after 35 years of working all over the US and Europe as a business analyst and Vice President of Operations and Data Acquisition.  I was living the life I had always aspired to -- traveling, volunteering for a number of non-profit organizations, taking the occasional consulting job, enjoying a few classes at the local college, and just having fun. Then, in August 2009, I had a blood test and it showed something was off with my...

Ruth Cuadra

Ruth Cuadra, survivor and volunteer - a Patient's Story

2015 will mark the 17th anniversary of my victory over myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).  An unrelated-donor bone marrow transplant saved my life and cured me of the disease in 1998. I was originally diagnosed with aplastic anemia, in 1996, when a routine checkup showed that my blood counts were at life-threateningly low levels.  I was treated with the immunosuppressant called ATG and experienced some improvement, but could never get back to normal blood counts.  Eventually I was found to have...

Pat Reep

Maggie O'Neil, Los Angeles Walk Committee

I became involved in the Hope, Steps & A Cure Walk after my mom passed away from MDS in March 2012.  I was overcome with many emotions (sadness, anger, confusion, shock, etc), and I wanted to channel those into doing something good.  So I "Googled" and found the Hope Steps & A Cure Walk, and the most incredible part was that the walk was to be held the following month (April) in my hometown of Long Beach!  I immediately jumped on board and in that next month Team Pat Reep...