Cody Shereck Cody's Journey

First post: Apr 18, 2022 Latest post: Aug 5, 2022
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     2021 was a busy year. I am in my senior year at The University of North Dakota working on completing a double major - Commercial Aviation and UAS (unmanned aerial system).  School is hectic and crazy, but the end is in sight -- a couple more classes and ground schools to go.  I interviewed and was hired as a CFI --certified flight instructor at UND with orientation to start mid-March.  I was fortunate to be able to take a quick trip to Florida over Christmas break with my girlfriend Alexa and her family. I was feeling well and life was good.
     January 2022 started off with me feeling tired and run down.  I said to myself "dang I'm out of shape" so I started going to the gym and working out to try get back in shape.  I would get winded just walking to class and had a tough time going up a flight of stairs.  I mentioned it to my dad and we both figured  it was nothing, probably just run down.  February 7th I'm scared... it's the middle of the night and I can't get my heart to stop racing. I called my dad and told him there's something wrong, I just don't feel right.  My dad came to Grand Forks and we went to the walk in clinic.  Basic Labs were done and basically was told I had anxiety. I still felt like something wasn't right.  March rolls around and I have a follow up appt on the 7th with a different doctor.  I showed him a rash that I would get every once in a while and he ordered full labs for me.  I received a call on March 9th from the Doctor telling me that I need to see an oncologist immediately and the only opening was in Devils Lake the next morning and that I shouldn't be driving.  Wow--a few days earlier I was flying an airplane and now they don't want me driving.  My girlfriend drove me to Devils Lake that night.  March 10th - We go to the doctor in Devils Lake (myself, Mom & Dad) -- the doctor walks in, looks at the labs, and says I think you have Leukemia and you need to go back to Grand Forks to get a blood and platelet transfusion as you are critically low.  My dad told him we want a referral with Mayo Clinic and off we went.
      After having a bone marrow biopsy at Mayo the Doctors of Hematology diagnosed me with Aplastic Anemia, not leukemia -- about 2 in 1 million get it.   Aplastic Anemia is an autoimmune blood disease caused by the destruction of blood-forming stem cells in bone marrow by the immune system.  My bone marrow is not producing enough new blood cells... the rash that I get is petechiae which is blood vessels breaking due to my platelets being too low.
     I need a successful bone marrow transplant.  My sister Taylor has been tested and she is a "half match" to my bone marrow.  My other sister, Cassidy cannot be a donor for me as she has Down Syndrome and has a higher chance of getting leukemia and she could possibly pass that to me.  We have been to Mayo 3 times this past month.  The last visit they threw yet another curveball and said that what I have may be genetic which means that Taylor also has to be tested for the genetic variant to make sure she doesn't have it.  If she doesn't, then we will discuss going ahead with the transplant.  If she does, I have to look for a different donor.   So now we wait for test results -- waiting is tough.
     I get blood and platelet transfusions about every 7-8 days.  I am very susceptible to getting sick as my immune system is very low.  When I find a donor, I will have to go thru chemo to kill off what's left of my bone marrow and be ready to receive the donor bone marrow.  I will have to be at Mayo Clinic for up to 3 weeks of chemo and for at least 100 days after the transplant.   
     As of right now, I try to keep isolated and keep thinking positive.  I am trying to finish one of my classes at UND before I go back to Mayo.  I had to drop out of my other classes as I cannot fly at this point and concentrating is difficult as well.  I look forward to finishing up my degrees when I beat this.  I appreciate all of your thoughts, well wishes and prayers for me.

Cody Shereck