When my older sister Jean was diagnosed with leukemia nine years ago, the doctors at the University of Michigan told her she needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. They suggested that all eight of Jean’s siblings get tested to see if one of us was a compatible donor. Although all eight of us were hopeful that we’d be Jean’s match, we were all a little nervous as well. Being a bone marrow donor is an honor, but also a huge commitment with often painful side effects.
With that in mind, all eight of us took the test and, after a few weeks of waiting, the results revealed that my younger sister Deb was a perfect match. Deb was the chosen one.
The first thing Deb had to do before gifting Jean with her magic bone marrow was submit to a physical to make sure she was healthy enough to donate. During Deb’s physical the doctors found that her blood pressure was alarmingly high. Because our family has a long history of heart disease and our brother Mick died of a heart attack at the age of 50, Deb’s physical came at a perfect time. After getting her blood pressure down to a healthy level, Deb traveled to Ann Arbor to undergo the procedure to extract the bone marrow from her body to give to Jean.
Deb and Jean went through with the miraculous bone marrow transfer and Jean’s body accepted Deb’s marrow perfectly, but only for a short time. The leukemia was too advanced going into the transfer and after a few months, our sister Jean passed away.
When I think about it, I believe that the magic of this story is that it seemed that Deb was chosen to save Jean’s life, but maybe it was really meant to be the other way around. Maybe it was Jean who was chosen to save Deb.
Last week during my appointment at the University of Michigan I met with an Occupational Therapist and she gave me some great tools to make my daily life easier because my hands and fingers aren’t as coordinated as they used to be.
She gave me elastic shoelaces, a button and zipper aid, a rubber handle to use with a fork and a spoon to make eating easier and a PenAgain to help make writing easier.
I am grateful for the useful tools the Occupational Therapist gifted me but my beautiful sister-in-laws came up with their own innovative tools they thought would be helpful and I like theirs much more.
Patti gave me a wine backpack so that I’m never far from having Wine Time while hiking in the woods.
Vicki, who lives in Florida, sent me a pretend-stemmed wine glass with a note enclosed in the package that said, “With a lid on this cup you can tip your wine glass all you want. Keep laughing.” because when she was visiting this summer I was having a little trouble holding a stemmed wine glass while laughing.
Deb made me a quilt from material she received from her mother Doddie who is no longer with us. Both Deb and Doddie are gifted seamstresses and Deb knows that her mom meant the world to me.
With the help of Patti, Vicki and Deb’s gifts I am able to hike to the bench with a bottle of wine in my backpack, use my fake-stemmed wine glass to drink it and use a warm quilt to either wrap up in or spread out as a picnic blanket.
Thank you girls for the useful and amazing gifts.
I received a beautiful email from my sister Joan and wanted to share it.
I cannot promise that I will not cry for you, but I will try.
I cannot promise I will always be strong for you, but I will try.
I cannot promise that I can always be there when you need me, but I will try.
I cannot promise I will have as much faith as you do, but I will try.
But I can promise that I will always love you.
Joan, I will always love you too.
Last night Kelly and I attended a Mother-Daughter Dinner at Our Lady of Grace in Muskegon that my sister Judy was involved in. Judy invited my sisters and I to attend this dinner so Joan, Vikke, Mary, Janet, my friend/sister Colleen, Kelly and I all joined Judy for a lovely dinner in the parish hall.
After dinner everyone was invited into the church to enjoy a concert. We all sang with the performers and enjoyed their amazing talent. The evening was about to come to a close when one of the performers, Greg Russick, started talking about healing and how important it is for us to feel God’s love and healing powers. He asked the audience if we would be comfortable raising our hands over someone that needed God’s love and healing. Someone in the audience spoke up and said “yes, let’s do it”. Greg then announced my name and asked me to come up to the front of the church for this special blessing. I was in shock hearing my name called. I stood up to walk to the front of church and my knees were stiff which almost prevented me from walking. Greg then asked me to sit in the pew and invited all of the woman to gather around me and pray for me. I saw my sister Joan and Judy and grabbed them to be by my side. My friend Jan held my right hand and my sister Judy held my left. Joan was by my side while everyone prayed for me. The prayers were so beautiful and people were crying around me but I felt strong and in AWE of God’s Love. I was surrounded by so much love, it was unbelievable.
I think the reason I was so shocked is because we are all dealing with difficulties in our lives. Just because I am dealing with a dreadful disease doesn’t make my burden any greater than others. I was humbled to be chosen out of that crowd of 75 people to be prayed for.
I am one lucky girl.