Just weeks into her freshman year of college, Becky woke up with a terrible stomach and back pains. Days later, she received a life-changing diagnosis — she had leukemia. At the time, bone marrow transplants were a relatively new form of treatment, but Becky’s doctors recommended it as her best chance of survival.
In 1992, she received a marrow transplant from her sister. The transplant was a success and allowed Becky to return to college. Back on campus and inspired to help others through similar experiences, Becky quickly changed her major from music to nursing.
Weeks before graduating with her nursing degree, Becky received heartbreaking news — her cancer had relapsed. Over the next 18 years, Becky’s doctors used medications and donor lymphocyte infusions to manage her cancer, but she struggled to stay healthy. “I could never make it past the three-year mark. The cycle of relapse and remission became my new normal,” says Becky. “I love working with patient families, but when I couldn’t because my immune system was vulnerable, I worked as a bone marrow transplant (BMT) research nurse. It was rewarding to help further the science.”
In 2010, after her sixth relapse, her doctors decided it was time for a different approach and turned to the Be The Match Registry® to find an unrelated donor match for a second marrow transplant. A search began and three fully-matched donors were located.
“Not every patient has a match. I felt lucky and grateful.” Becky was admitted as a patient in the transplant unit where she worked and received her life-saving transplant a few months later.
For the first time ever, Becky sailed past her three-year, post-transplant checkup with a clean bill of health. Now, Becky has rejoined her team as a BMT coordinator and supports patients through their own transplant journeys. Additionally, Becky will join us this month at the Be The Match Soiree in New York as a speaker.
“The BMT unit is a place that needs hope and, just by looking at me, I give that hope to both my colleagues and patients — I’m someone who has walked in their shoes and truly understands.”