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Stories of Hope

To better understand the impact of bone marrow failure, we present stories told by the patients, parents, family members, and spouses 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.

Debra O'Neal

"I Chose Life" - Debra Reflects on Three Years of Challenges with Aplastic Anemia

“Your blood counts are nearly nonexistent,” the doctor said.  Before this moment, Debra considered herself to be generally healthy, just tiring easily.  She assumed the cause was the big project at work on top of a host of family and volunteer activities, or perhaps issues with her blood pressure. It was autumn of 2017. She decided to checked out at the urgent care thinking they would prescribe some pill and she would be ok.  Debra’s EKG was normal, but the blood work showed deficits of all...

Sandra Barnes

Sandy's Long, Hard, Road

I was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia on February 1, 2011, just 10 days after being in a car accident and getting staples in my head. This couldn’t have come at a worse time because I was in my final semester at Central Connecticut State University. Before my diagnosis, I noticed a rash all over my legs (which I later learned was Petechia), and weight loss. I lost 17 pounds in 10 days, but I thought it was part of “biggest loser challenge” at work.  I went to a walk-in clinic because I...

Joshua Maliczowski

Update for Josh: A Change in Treatment is only a Little Unsettling

2021 Treatment update I am still taking the medication ultomiris, however, in late 2020 I was notified by Alexion (the drug company that makes ultomiris) that the concentration of ultomiris would be changing in 2021. By sometime in 2021 the original concentration of ultomiris will be phased out and will no longer available. The new concentration I would begin getting is 100mg/ml formulation. This new concentration is infused at a different rate and actually cuts down my infusion time to about...

Hailey Texeira

Pack your Bags and Head to the Hospital - Hailey's Story

“You will need to pack your bags and head to Children’s Hospital, we think it’s leukemia.” Only a few days after a Complete Blood Count, Christy, Hailey's mom, heard these words from Hailey’s doctor. Hailey had just started kindergarten. At summer dance camp, Hailey won the award for “Most Tired.” That puzzled her mom. As kindergarten progressed, Christy noticed the fatigue. She assumed that kindergarten must be exhausting for children. Christmas was approaching when she noticed Hailey’s...

Nick Karavite

Life Interrupted – Nick’s Fight Against Aplastic Anemia

Here is Nick's story, as told by his mom, Pamela Karavite At 13, Nick was an active teenaged boy.  He played on a summer basketball team, and two baseball teams.  I had seen bruises on his arms and legs, but they were typical for a teen boy that plays hard.  Nick had just pitched his first no-hitter, and lethargically played in a couple of basketball games two days later.  It was odd that he seemed so tired, but it was summer, the gym had no air-conditioning, and all the boys seemed tired.  We...

Kristy Maliczowski

We Made It! – Kristy Shares her Perspective in January 2021

We made it to another treatment day without anyone in our family getting sick! The week leading to treatment day has become pretty worrisome for me. What if someone in our family gets sick with or is exposed to COVID? Josh will not be able to get his infusion within the treatment window and then what? The questions I never thought I'd have to wonder about. I used to dread treatment day because it was a reminder that Josh has Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH), but today I celebrate that...

Danielle Sulyma

A Caregiver's Story: MDS Diagnosis Changes their Lives

I know my fiancé well.  Even though he seemed to be healthy and his job kept him active, I knew it had been a long time since he had a medical physical, so I pushed him into an appointment. Without symptoms, the doctor suggested routine blood work as a part of the physical.  We were surprised that all his counts were low.  The doctor decided to check again in a month, so I made sure that his diet was healthier and that he took vitamins, hoping that would correct any problem.   Because I’m a...

Marianna De Leon

Severe Aplastic Anemia and PNH Diagnoses Came out of Nowhere - Marianna's Story

As a typical community college student, Mariana was busy. Classes, studying, day trips, all were part of her life. Yet during one shower, she dropped to the floor, suddenly dizzy. A few weeks later she would be out of breath, with unusual bruises on her skin. At the end of the semester, she fainted in the grocery store while on vacation. Her parents dropped everything to drive the miles in a hurry, returning to an appointment with her family physician. Not yet diagnosed, she went to the first...

Alayna, daughter of Ashley

Update on Miss Alayna!

Alayna was a toddler when she was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia.  The previous story described the journey of diagnosis and treatment with a bone marrow transplant. Today, Alayna is attending preschool, three days a week. She has had no major “hiccups,” her mom said, after the transplant in September 2019. She’s even doing so well, a year later, that she doesn’t need any more post-transplant biopsies! When does a mom quit worrying? Alayna’s mom, Ashley, continues to worry, especially...

Joshua Maliczowski

PNH - Traveling with a Rare Disease - Update from Josh

Traveling with a rare disease  Traveling as a rare disease patient starts long before the booking of tickets. It starts in the physician’s office where travel is planned around treatment regimen. My wife and I recommend that rare disease patients work closely with their physicians before planning travel to ensure that the patient is healthy enough to travel. Reviewing travel with a physician is important because changing altitudes, sitting for prolonged periods of time,...
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