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

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.

Barbara Weinstein

Being able to help and empower people really appealed to me."

At AA&MDSIF, we deeply appreciate the vital role nurses play in patient care – they are wonderful listeners, educators, motivators, and knowledgeable professionals who make a difference every day in the lives of so many patients and families. This past May, in celebration of National Nurses Week, we asked patients to tell us about their favorite nurse. Four different individuals wrote to tell us about one particular nurse - Barbara Weinstein, RN, BSN, CCRP, a Research Nurse Specialist at...

Al Meyer

A Rare Case of Aplastic Anemia Later in Life Won't Stop Me

I grew up in Louisiana - born in New Orleans and raised in Lafayette. I joined the Army, and went to Seattle and worked at Madigan General Hospital where I met my wife. I was then sent to Vietnam. After I returned, I worked for a bank in Seattle for 16 years, becoming a vice president and manager. I helped finance an auto auction as part of this job, and as a result, I fell in love with the car businesses.  I was accepted for a Ford training program that lasted for two years at a Seattle Ford...

Kendra Arvon

Thankful to Be Here and Alive

I was a very active 17-year-old when I got the news. It was October of 2005, the beginning of high school basketball season in my hometown of Beckley, West Virginia, when I became ill. I thought it was a really bad cold or even the flu, but I was used to being sick and fighting through it, so I didn’t think much about it. I started antibiotics while I continued going to school and playing basketball. I would start to feel better for a while, then BOOM, it would hit me like lightning again. I...

Richard 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

Aplastic Anemia Patient “Just Focused on Beating It”

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

A spirit of adventure helps her live life to the fullest

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

Patient Photo

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

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

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 weeks...