“I couldn’t even tell you how many transfusions of red cells and platelets I got,” said Denise.
Like many cancer patients, transfusions were a regular part of Denise’s treatment plan after she was diagnosed with a blood cancer known as Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Her doctors believed chemotherapy could cure the cancer.
“Every time I had a transfusion, I’d look at the bag of blood and think, ‘Thank you. Whoever this is, thank you,’” Denise explained. “I was just blown away by the big-heartedness of people doing something anonymously. That is just the ultimate generosity.”
After undergoing a series of chemotherapy, Denise was in remission for about two and a half years.
Then, the cancer returned.
This time, she needed a blood stem cell transplant. Her doctors worked with Be The Match® to help find the perfect stranger—a young woman in Poland–to be her donor and lifeline.
In September 2015, after six days of intense chemotherapy and a day to rest, Denise received the blood stem cells. It was a beautiful day of celebration filled with happiness, gratitude and hope.
So appreciative of the lifesaving gift a stranger from across the world gave her, Denise began writing letters to her anonymous donor through Be The Match®.
“I was so curious who this earth angel is. I wrote the letter and thought, I hope she won’t want to be anonymous forever because I want to truly thank her,” Denise shared. “She saved my life.”
A year later, Denise finally got to know her donor. While not yet in person, Denise and her lifesaving donor communicate through social media still today.
“She is the most kind-hearted, generous person I have ever met – I haven’t met her in person, yet, but she is just beautiful on the inside and out,” said Denise. “It’s such an honor for me to know who she is and thank her.”
It was the generosity of complete strangers here locally and one all the way in Europe that saved Denise’s life. These donors’ lifesaving gifts have allowed her to continue doing what she loves, with the people she loves. She, with her husband, was able to see both of her sons graduate high school and now watch them grow into their futures as young adults. Denise has also been able to continue her love of the outdoors and nature, laughing with her friends and family and spending time volunteering with animal rescue organizations. She shares her story in thanks to those who donate and hopes it will inspire others to become blood donors and join the Be The Match® registry to give someone the same second chance of life she was given.