“My name is Meghan and my rare disease is Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I was diagnosed in 2019 at the age of 23. For months I experienced symptoms like loss of appetite, serious fatigue, and bruising. And that’s the scary thing about AML, it progresses slowly and if not caught it can be very deadly. I was hours away from organ failure when it was discovered how sick I was. I immediately started chemo and 3 months later received a Stem Cell Transplant (SCT). After 6 months of treatment and recovery, I was deemed to be “in remission”. Despite everything, I knew that I wasn’t necessarily “cured” until 5 years post transplant. 16 months later, I discovered that I had relapsed. Defeated and in shock, my life was being put on hold once again. I underwent 2 more rounds of chemo, 2 more months in the hospital, and a 2nd Stem Cell Transplant. Not soon after, I started to experience Graft vs Host Disease (GvHD). This is a very common side effect for patients who have had a SCT. It is when your donor’s cells (graft) view your own cells (host) as foreign and attack them. This results in skin rashes, mouth sores, and eye dryness. GvHD can be very helpful though in destroying a patient’s Leukemia, but it is not always full proof. Despite my GvHD, my Leukemia returned 6 months post transplant. And this time, a 3rd transplant was not an option. I couldn’t put my body through the same treatment again. Instead, I have been undergoing outpatient chemo once a month.
I am just about to start my 4th cycle this week and the chemo is working! I am currently “in remission”, though there is about 0.02% Leukemia left in my marrow. We will continue the treatment for the time being. All the while, I am moving on with my life. For almost 3 years, my life has been revolving around my cancer. I can’t do that anymore. I will continue to “fight” but also spend each and every day with those I love doing the things I enjoy the most. I am 26 now, it’s time to start living.”