Stephanie Sanford

First post: Oct 31, 2020 Latest post: Nov 19, 2021
Hello! I have created this page for anyone interested in following along on this journey with me. As long as I am feeling well and have the energy, I will provide as many updates as I can. You may also hear from family members from time to time. Here’s a little background up to this point:

I went back to work as a speech-language pathologist at an elementary school on September 8. Due to Covid, I hadn’t been back in my normal work routine since March! So I was very excited and happy to be back. About a week later, I started getting these horrid headaches. My head felt like a bowling ball and it just throbbed and pounded. I attributed it to stress from being back at work and busy and sitting at a desk - things my body wasn’t used to doing in a long time. I finally went to the chiropractor for an adjustment. Usually that does the trick when I get a headache. It didn’t help at all. In fact, the headaches were getting worse. I decided to try one more adjustment, but again, no relief. By the beginning of October, the headaches were so bad that I would occasionally get nauseous and light headed, especially if I bent over or did anything slightly physical. The simplest things like standing up off the floor would wipe me out. I would get so easily winded and out of breath that I would have to hold on to something to catch my breath. I couldn’t keep up with simple household chores any longer. One evening my chest started randomly pounding out of control and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath, so I figured I better get tested for Covid. I was secretly hoping it would be positive so I had some answers. It was negative. The following week I called my primary doctor in Dickinson to schedule an appointment. Of course, with my luck, she was out that whole week. So I made an appointment for the following week. By Thursday of that week, it was very obvious I couldn’t wait until the next week, so I was able to get in with a different doctor right in town on that same day. She sent me home with some migraine medications and zofran for nausea, but asked that I come back in the morning to have some blood work done. Friday morning, I stopped in to the lab before work to have my blood drawn. A couple hours later, the gal from the lab called me and asked me to come back in so she could redraw because she thought she must have made a mistake. My numbers were very low, even after the second draw. My doctor wanted to see me right away. I sat in the room waiting and waiting and could hear her on the phone in the other room with doctors from Bismarck. That’s when I knew something wasn’t quite right. She told me that I was very anemic but she didn’t know what was causing it. My white blood count was so low that I basically didn’t have an immune system. She recommended that I go to Bismarck straight to the ER. So we picked up Sonny from daycare and stopped at home quick to pack our bags and to Bismarck we went. 

Once we got to the ER, they drew more blood and ran a ton of tests. I had a CT scan that came back normal. By about 9:00 that night, they moved me to the hospital where I would stay for 4 days to monitor my levels and find out what was causing the anemia. If the hemoglobin drops below 7, they do a blood transfusion. That weekend, my hemoglobin dropped down to 6.8, so I ended up receiving one unit of blood. Meanwhile, they had my blood work sent to Fargo for flow cytometry, which would determine if it was leukemia. We got those results back on Monday, 10/19, which confirmed our fears. It was T cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The next day I had a bone marrow biopsy which would confirm the diagnosis and tell us more about it. I immediately asked for a referral to Mayo Clinic in Arizona. We are now down in Arizona and have met my doctors and come up with a plan. Follow along below for more updates and thank you so much for your love and support!

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