Kellie Stonesifer

First post: Mar 1, 2022 Latest post: May 16, 2022
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 I was diagnosed with a rare leukemia last March 2021 called T cell prolymphocytic leukemia. It was fortunately caught early. And was considered slow growing till this summer. How did I find out that I had anything wrong? Routine annual labs with my primary care doctor. My white cell count was elevated on 2 consecutive labs and then we rechecked 1 more time and my doctor said maybe it was my normal. We rechecked labs in August 2020 and white cells were high once again. So my primary care referred me to a hematologist. After many many expensive, extensive blood tests, my hematologist couldn't come up with a precise diagnosis and referred me to Hopkins. After further expensive blood tests and numerous case conferences they came up with my diagnosis. The initial plan was to just watch and wait because my leukemia was a slow growing one. Unfortunately it started to take off this summer. And I started chemotherapy in October. The first chemotherapy we tried did not work and my white cell count continued to grow. So we started on drug number two which was chemotherapy every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I did not tolerate this very well to start off and we finally managed to tweak my pre-meds to make that therapy more tolerable. The plan has been for me to go through that initial chemotherapy to essentially put me into remission with the next step of a stem cell transplant for an actual CURE. Finished up the initial chemotherapy on December 31st. The next step came a lot faster then we had planned for. We initially discussed the stem cell transplant happening in February or March but my doctor wanted to proceed quickly because I had responded so well to chemotherapy and because now I am  high risk of infections.
I was very fortunate that my nephew Grant is a close enough match for Hopkins to be my stem cell donor. He did rather well with the preparation, although I'm finding out now a little more about how much pain he experienced. He hid a lot of his discomfort because he didn't want me to feel guilty or worry about him. Fortunately he was able to get his vacation with the family in Florida in January. He tells me he feels 100% back to normal now.Fortunately they don't do the traditional bone marrow transplant where they have to extract from the hip. He was given a dose to stimulate his bone marrow for 5 days and had basically a traditional blood draw to get his stem cells I got his cells on January 20th which is considered my day zero. 

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