It's time for another shot of inspiration. Are you ready?
I'm super excited about today's guest- Miss Gwen B. She is a darling young lady who went to prom with my son and in the process of doing a little Facebook stalking, I found out that she has quite the story for someone so young. (It was the good kind of stalking, I promise. :)
I Can Do Hard Things- Gwen B.
Hi. I’m Gwen. I’m a junior in high school, an employee at Chick-fil-A, and a lover of chocolate, anything Disney, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is my story.
When I was 14, my life changed forever. It all started the day after Christmas in 2012. My family got our pictures taken and a few weeks later, we got them back.
This is the picture that started it all.
I’m the person in the middle, yes the person that looks a whole skin-tone whiter than my already white family. For a month my mom told me I looked green in the picture, but I denied it. It bugged me so much I even went to my friends and asked them if I looked green. Of course they said no, so I convinced myself that I was fine.
I finally allowed my mom to take me to the doctor the first of March. My doctor called us later that night, saying that my blood counts were way off whack and that I would need to go to Primary Children’s. I was scared and frankly, I felt very alone. It was like getting hit by a train. My whole life changed in twelve hours. I did not know what the future was going to hold. I didn’t know if I would have a future. My mom and I cried, a lot. We were both scared. We were starting our journey into the unknown.
I went to the children’s hospital the next week. At the end of my appointment they said that the next day I needed to come again and have a bone marrow biopsy and a blood transfusion. I cried. I tried to fight them and say that I did not want a transfusion and did not want to miss school again. I did not need to have someone else’s blood inside of me. I was perfectly fine. But I went anyway. Two days later I was diagnosed with Severe Idiopathic Aplastic Anemia, bone marrow failure. I had two options: wait and see if my bone marrow began to work, or receive a bone marrow transplant.
We waited. July hit and I was struggling. It was probably the hardest month of my life. I fought with God. I prayed constantly. I was praying for a miracle, but for the miracle I wanted. In all the blessings I received, the person blessing me always said, “Thy Will Be Done,” but I couldn’t bring myself to say it. I always thought about it, but I did not want to accept that God had control over what my future would be. I wanted to be the one to decide. If you only knew how hard I prayed. I prayed with all of my might. I wanted the miracle of having my bone marrow work on its own so badly. I did not want to have to have a transplant. I wanted the miracle I had created in my mind to come true. It wasn’t until mid-July when I finally told God “Thy Will Be Done.” It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But that is when everything started to fall into place. God had waited for me to accept the fact that I was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant.
Most people who need a bone marrow transplant don’t have any sibling matches. Well, I had two. It was truly a miracle. We went forward with preparing for a bone marrow transplant. Some of the things included in receiving a bone marrow transplant are 4 days of almost continuous chemotherapy, a month in the hospital (without leaving your room), 100 days of strict isolation, a year of isolation, and about a million types of medications.
At the time my hair was about 24 inches long. I decided that if I was going to lose it, I might as well lose it in style. I got some sweet pink highlights! (Fun fact: I did not know Desirae at this time, so when I found out she had dyed her hair pink as well I knew I liked her!)
At the beginning of August I entered the hospital for my lengthy stay. I went through my four days of chemo, my rest day, and my Bone Marrow Transplant Birthday! My brother selflessly donated his bone marrow for me to have a second chance at life. Then came the waiting game. During transplant you have to wait for your bone marrow to engraft, which means that the new bone marrow has started producing blood cells. It normally takes between 14 and 28 days to engraft. That’s a good amount of time to sit there and hope. I was very anxious while awaiting my body to accept this new bone marrow. During this time I wanted to do all of the things I was supposed to. Not only doing the things the doctors had asked of me, but what The Lord had asked of me.
My hair gradually started coming out. It was hard, but we made it fun. It was actually quite entertaining! My best friend (who is also my brother) is amazing. We called him one day and told him that it was the day. He came up willingly and shaved his head along with me. Having someone by my side made it easier for me to be bald.
A day in the hospital starts about 4 in the morning and ends at about 2 in the morning. I spent a lot of my time watching tv, doing crafts and sleeping. I was not allowed to leave my hospital room. On Day +15 post-transplant, I engrafted! This meant that my body had now accepted the bone marrow my brother had given me, and had started to produce blood!
It truly was a miracle.
School is kind of my thing. My ninth grade year started a few days after I returned home, but I wouldn’t be attending. Instead of going to school, I had a teacher visit me twice a week for short time and bring all of my work. It was not the prime way to learn, but I survived. For the first 100 days I was not allowed to leave home, I could only leave when going to the hospital. Whenever I left I had to wear one of those very attractive masks that never caused me to get any looks from people. I went to the hospital for an appointment every week, and would be home all of the other days.
Well Day +100 finally came! We went to clinic and found out that my blood was 98% Brandon’s and that my bone marrow was 85% Brandon’s! Yay! That meant that my body was accepting his bone marrow as mine! It also meant that my miracle continuing to progress. After this we started the very slow weaning of cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant drug). This also meant I was allowed to start eating out at restaurants! Exciting!!
On day +217 I was able to kiss cyclosporine goodbye forever! Life only went up from there. I was able to go on pioneer trek, Camp Hobe (a camp for cancer kids and their siblings), and girls camp. One of the highlights was my Make-A-Wish trip. But the greatest was having my Bone Marrow Transplant declared successful and ringing the bell for the second, and last time. My life truly is a miracle.
Isn't she just the cutest thing ever?!? I love her and I love her story. Thank you so much for being willing to share, Gwen! She is another amazing example that we, as human beings, as children of God, can do really, super hard things. :)
I am loving my second chance at life.
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