Stephanie Rothbauer

First post: Feb 6, 2019 Latest post: May 7, 2020
In April of 2018 I began experiencing extreme headaches and fatigue. I chalked it up to another Multiple Sclerosis relapse. I’ve been battling MS since early 2012. Then in May things really started to change. I lost 10 pounds out of the blue, my gums and tongue became swollen and irritated, I was extremely fatigued and constant pain and bruising all over. I had bloodwork done as a routine MS check and immediately received a call telling me to get to Stanford ASAP. I packed my bags as if I would be there for a couple of days. Upon my arrival with my family I was quickly whisked away into isolation. My neutrophils were non existent making any kind of infection potentially life threatening. My white blood cell count was through the roof. I’ll never forget the hematologist and oncologist coming into the ER and telling me that I have Acute Myloid Leukemia. The first thing out of my mouth was, “let’s fix this.” I had 3 kids at home who needed me and I was not going to let Leukemia take that away from us. I had no idea when we left for Stanford that it would would become my home for the next 9 weeks. I battled adverse reactions to chemotherapy that landed me in the ICU for 10 days fighting for my life. I’ve had countless blood transfusions and platelet transfusions since May. I’ve had 5 bone marrow biopsies. CT scans, MRI’s, ultrasounds, PICC line infection, sepsis, Neutropenic fevers.....the list goes on. I’m home now fighting the mighty fight and visit my oncologist weekly, platelet transfusions weekly and take a chemotherapy daily that seems to be working in my favor. The ultimate goal is remission. Once I reach remission I will be eligible for a bone marrow transplant- the only promising cure for AML Leukemia. When searching for a donor the first choice is a sibling match. I have 3 siblings and thought my odds would be in my favor for one of them to be a match. The results came back and none of my siblings were a match. We began the nerve wrecking search for a non-related donor with bethematch.org (http://bethematch.org/). We received some great news! I am incredibly fortunate to have (2) 100% matched non-related donors who are ready to donate as soon as I’m ready. These donors will ultimately save my life. The goal for 2019 is remission and my bone marrow transplant. The transplant is not a walk in the park but I’m ready for the fight. It will be the most intense chemotherapy and radiation I’ve had before the transplant. My  immune system will be completely depleted before introducing the bone marrow. My body will then need to accept the transplant and I will be living in Palo Alto for 100 days during this entire process. It sounds daunting but I can’t wait......this transplant will not only cure my my Leukemia but my Multiple Sclerosis as well. The silver lining to this long journey! 
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