Tiffany: “My Bone Marrow is Failing Me” | Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation (AAMDSIF) Return to top.

Tiffany: “My Bone Marrow is Failing Me”

Tiffany was putting her degree in psychology to work. A Bethune-Cookman University graduate, she was working her dream job in a facility in Jacksonville, Florida.  Then the diagnosis of Aplastic Anemia came out of nowhere.

An active student, Tiffany had been a cheerleader through school.  After graduation she coached cheerleading until she landed her dream job.

One day in February she noticed a strange bruise on her back.  At the same time, she had been noting how her menstrual cycles seemed to be lasting longer.  This day, though, the unusual clotting and severe bleeding had her worried.  These symptoms occurred along with severe fatigue and a feeling of “not being herself.”  Her mom advised her to call the doctor.

Tiffany’s primary care office had a triage nurse who took her call.  She advised that she go to the Emergency Department at the nearby hospital.  There, they only prescribed oral birth control before sending her home.

The next day, she was out of breath. She went to a different hospital that immediately tested her and gave her a transfusion. The hospital staff admitted her before she knew what was going on.

The doctor there didn’t know how to determine the cause of her severe bleeding and low blood counts.  She received ultrasounds checking for fibroids and more transfusion.  Before she was discharged, she was given an appointment for a bone marrow biopsy. She did not go to this test, believing that she would be fine.

The next week, she had a regular checkup with the gynecologist.  There she had another blood workup that showed overall low blood counts. She was sent back to the Emergency Department.

This visit, Tiffany was admitted, receiving transfusions of platelets in addition to red blood.  She heard the word, “leukemia,” for the first time.  Now she was taken for a bone marrow biopsy in the hospital.  After two weeks of treatment with blood and platelets, she was stable enough to go home.

The clinic that was recommended to her took a complete blood count. She was sent back to the hospital. There, a doctor gave her a referral to a colleague, but their hospital refused to see her due to lack of insurance.  Admitted to a different hospital, she finally received the diagnosis of Aplastic Anemia.  She was moved into the oncology section.

Finally, the doctors explained how the bone marrow should be working, and that hers was not working.  In the biopsy, she was checked for both Aplastic Anemia and PNH.  She did not go home.  

The next step was to try horse ATG since she would have to go far away for a bone marrow transplant.  She had five days of aggressive---and painful--- treatment.  Her bones ached all night long so she could only sleep during the day.  Her grandmother came to stay with her in the hospital to help, and both her grandparents helped pay her rent while she was in treatment and recovery.   She became so debilitated that she had to stay longer due to the risk of falls, and she put on weight.

When Tiffany came home, she came home with depression. She felt overwhelmed, not being able to take care of herself. During this time, her grandfather passed away as well.  She became depressed. But finally, the treatment started working!

Treatment left permanent marks on her body. She gained weight.  Her gums became so swollen she needed a procedure to remove the excess tissue.  She says that having Aplastic Anemia “shook up her life.”  

Now, Tiffany has been in remission for two years.  She has been taking care of her mental health with talk therapy. She has been able to work out and to lose weight.  Her job was kept open for her, so she has returned to the facility.  Life has become good once again.

Tiffany wants to share these thoughts with other patients:

  • Have faith and hold on to God’s promises.
  • Have faith and He will bring you out of it.
  • Expect the best!

She never gave up hope, not even during the darkest of times.  She had faith, and a group of people were praying for her.  She says their prayers “saved me the most!”