My parents fought non-Hodgkins lymphoma and multiple related illnesses for almost three years. I say my parents because they’ve endured all of this together, completely unified in their fear, agony, and resolve to survive. My mother was the one in the hospital bed with cancer in her body, but they both suffered. She was treated at Duke Hospital, where she received her second stem cell transplant using her brother Dwight’s donated cells.
The engraftment process was slow and taxing, but after living in Durham for nine months and making countless trips to both the clinic and the hospital, her body began to produce white blood cells and platelets again. She was still extremely weak and in considerable pain, but her immune system is started to rebuild itself. They moved back home to Boone in December of 2008.
I’m happy to say that my parents are now in the process of re-establishing normalcy. My mother is cancer-free, and has overcome the physical stress of the many different treatments she endured during those three years. They travel back to Durham for evaluation once in awhile, which at least gives them extra opportunities to see their granddaughter, who is my mother’s namesake, and grandson.
Much of my mom’s struggle, as well as notes from her family and friends, were documented by my dad on CaringBridge. Click on the link below and enter her name without a space: jackiejones
Here’s an abridged version of her struggle (written by my father in the fall of 2008), which began with a brain aneurysm more than two years ago:
Jackie’s illness began in July, 2006 with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). The malformation of blood vessels in her head required nine hours of life-saving brain surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. That fall, she developed a staph infection in her head. This time, six hours of surgery saved her life. Late in the year, debilitating pain in her back resulted in a return to Baptist where she was diagnosed with stage-four Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
During the next six months she endured chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and a bone marrow/stem cell transplant in June, 2007. Tumors returned quickly. Jackie was referred to Duke Hospital for additional surgery, chemo, radiation, and a second transplant (her brother donated the cells) in June, 2008. Presently, she is living in Durham with her husband waiting for engraftment and restoration of her immune system. This brief summary omits dozens of tests, procedures, complications, as well as treatments and extraordinary care provided by Watauga Medical Center in Boone. Also, there is no way in this space to summarize the thousands of prayers, kindnesses, and acts of support provided by family, friends, and medical professionals.