A Journey Begins
Sometimes unexpected blessings can be hidden within unwelcome circumstances. In January 2001, Mindy Fast was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and underwent a stem cell transplant that summer only to have partial success. Her cancer was unmistakably active - news nobody wants to hear. Cycles of taking various combinations of medications followed, proving to be successful for only brief periods of time. In July of 2008, Mindy needed a second transplant. But just around the bend in this long journey, a glimmer of hope would soon appear through one unlikely spark that quickly spread to a comforting flame.
Shortly before her admittance into the hospital for her second transplant, Mindy learned about CaringBridge through a friend who had used the site when her son had a stem cell transplant. Creating her own CaringBridge website, she entered "Mindy Fast" as the name for her page only to find the name had already been taken by another user who had surprisingly been recovering from a stem cell transplant to treat multiple myeloma. "I posted to her guestbook that I found her because we had the same name and I couldn't believe we had the same disease. I sent her my e-mail and asked her to contact me," Mindy says. With this single act, a spark was ignited.
After the "newly found" Mindy saw family pictures on Mindy's site, she thought some faces looked familiar. Her instinct proved correct - Mindy's husband was her second cousin. But it did not end there - the couples also bonded over being married the same length of time and having children very close in ages.
Since their connection, that small spark of curiosity quickly became a reassuring flame that provided each of them glimmers of hope along their journey. "Since Mindy and I went through transplants at roughly the same time, and underwent identical treatment, we could understand what each other was experiencing and provide emotional support nobody else could," Mindy says. During and after the transplant, the two were able to share details of problems and side effects with each other that were difficult for others to understand.
A Gentle Flame Burning Strong
In October 2009 Mindy and her husband took a trip to Virginia to meet her cousin's family and have been able to help her reconnect with extended family in New Jersey where Mindy currently lives. "We have CaringBridge to thank for bringing us and the rest of the family together," Mindy says.
Mindy currently has no sign of cancer in her blood or bone marrow and is happily in remission. She is undergoing post-transplant treatment and is monitored every three months by her myeloma specialist.
"CaringBridge provided such a wonderful, easy way for our family and friends to be kept informed of our progress and remain in touch with us during the transplant process. However, we will be most grateful to CaringBridge for bringing Mindy and me together," Mindy says.