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Sep 27, 2016
This site is in honor of the bravest, strongest woman I know, my sister, Gwen Thayer.
Click on “Read Story” below to continue.
In 1990, Gwen was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. Two bone marrow transplants later and many ups and downs, Gwen was considered cured and a miracle to be alive.
Today, 15 years later, she was diagnosed with leukemia once again. She was first diagnosed at 5 years old-today she is 22. It is very hard on me being her sister, but I cannot begin to fathom what she is going through in her mind. Being diagnosed at 22 years old is much different than 5 years old. This site is created in her honor and is HER story.
Keep checking the site for new information and Gwen's journal entries. Thank you so much for your support and prayers!!!
Below is an article written in 2001 for the American Red Cross regarding Gwen’s previous battle with leukemia.
When Gwen Thayer, a normal, active five year old, said she wasn't feeling well one spring day no one imagined what lie ahead of her. Her parents, Karen and Steve, thought their daughter might have developed mono. Instead doctors told them Gwen had Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.
"No one can prepare you for the word cancer when it comes to your child," said Karen.
Gwen's only hope to be cured of her Leukemia was to receive a bone marrow transplant. Gwen's brother Greg was a perfect match for her, so in the summer of 1990, Gwen received four chemotherapy treatments followed by a bone marrow transplant.
Gwen experienced relatively good health following the transplant, but in July 1991 cancer cells were found in her spinal fluid. Gwen underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and in October 1991, despite the doctors best efforts Gwen relapsed. A second bone marrow transplant was recommended.
At that point in time, only about 150 people in the world had received a second bone marrow transplant.
"We asked Gwen what she wanted to do and she said, ‘If it's going to make me better, I have to do it,’" said Karen.
Gwen received her second bone marrow transplant on January 8, 1992. And although the cancer was under control, the large doses of radiation and chemotherapy that Gwen needed in order to have the surgery had taken their toll. The drugs had damaged the tissue in her mouth and intestinal tract, so she had to be fed intravenously and she developed Graft Versus Host disease, shingles and life-threatening respiratory problems. As a result, Gwen needed three colonoscopies, four bronchoscopies, a cystoscopy, an endoscopy, an open-lung biopsy, countless spinal taps, bone marrow tests and 10 surgeries.
Karen and Steve kept detailed journals of their daughter's fight to beat Leukemia—six in all. The journals are filled with small marks representing each blood product that Gwen received.
"I counted up those marks one day," said Karen. "She has received over 200 units of blood. There were some days when she even received blood twice. When you are in this type of situation you are just so thankful that others are willing to give blood so your child can live. There was no way our family could have provided all the blood products she needed. Gwen wouldn't be here without blood. I'm so very thankful."
Today, Gwen is a high school junior, and, while she is behind her classmates physically, she is far ahead of them in the lessons of life. She frequently says she is just glad to be alive.