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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC

Patients' Stories
Leukemia Stories

Lisa's Story
"Not Necessarily"

Written by: B. J. Kemp (October 16th, 2003)

Lisa was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 1991

“Does this mean I’m going to die?” Lisa asked innocently to Dr. Nantel, the hematologist at the Vancouver General Hospital. He had just diagnosed her with leukemia.

“Not necessarily” was his reply. These simple words of hope became Lisa’s lifeline for the next five months while her treatments pushed her to the edge of death, threatening, but never taking.

Lisa’s bone marrow transplant was on January 27th 1992. She was thirty-three years old. It was also her sister’s birthday. Lisa was admitted to the hospital on January 19th. For four days they loaded her up with ‘humongous doses of chemo.’ Then she had three days of total body radiation; everything but the lungs. They were killing off all her bone marrow to allow her body to accept the marrow from her sister, Gail. One drug was so potent it turned the intravenous line going into her body to cement.

“They take you down so close to death,” she said. Her 39-year-old sister flew in from Ottawa the day before; she was a perfect bone marrow match. At 8 am, they extracted 1½ litres of Gail’s bone marrow from four places in her hip. They cleaned and washed her marrow, extracting a potentially lethal germ. At 3 pm, the pink gelatinous material was infused into Lisa’s main vein. It should have taken 2–4 hours, but for Lisa, it took 9 minutes...

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Lisa''s full story Lisa's Story (PDF 252KB)

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