My name is Yajaira and I am 24-years-old, and live in Victorville, California. It has been about two years since I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. I was a very active, outdoor person who played sports. Never did I think in a million years this could ever happen to me, but it did.
I had just started my new job where I met Teresa, my manager. After four months of working there, she noticed there was something different about me. My skin was pale and bruised. I would get sick constantly and stay that way for weeks at a time. I never wanted to go to the doctor. I just figured it was a phase that would pass. One day, Teresa had enough of my stubbornness and sent me straight to the doctor where they did a couple of tests. He later called and told me I had aplastic anemia. I didn’t know how to break it to my mother because I didn’t want to scare her. After a good pep talk from Teresa, I got the courage to tell my family.
For treatment, I started receiving immunosuppressive therapy as well as high dose cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan ®) which is given through a fine tube that goes under the skin of the chest and into the vein. The first year was hard. The treatment made me so tired. I felt like giving up, but had a great support system of friends and family. I didn’t want my condition to limit me from anything I wanted to do, so I had to find ways to work around my treatment pain. Some days were better than others. There were some days where I couldn’t get out of bed, or the trips to the hospital were unbearable. I tried to stay positive and keep my head up.
I continue to fight this disease every day and today, I’m doing better. I am no longer on cyclophosphamide – just immunosuppressive therapy (when I’m not feeling well) and vitamins. I try to eat well and stay as active as I can. I just completed a phlebotomy course and next semester, I will be attending Victor Valley College to start working towards a degree in nursing. I‘ve returned to work after being gone for some time for treatment and surgeries. I work about 47 hours a week, go to school, volunteer, take my medications and live life the best I can. My co-workers constantly keep an eye out for me. They make sure I have taken my medication on time and eat when I need to. Without Teresa, who knows where my health would be today.
I am grateful for the people I have in my life. My only advice is don’t let things keep you down. There will be bad days, but who doesn’t have those? Be grateful, stay hopeful, and be happy regardless of what’s going on in your life.