Don Armstrong, a fixture in the North Texas Chapter, shares a story about why May 12th is and will always be an important day for him. Read why this blood cancer survivor has not one but two birthdays to celebrate.
"Nine years ago this morning I was blessed with a life giving stem cell transplant. I remember the morning like it was yesterday. It was like many other mornings I had experienced at the infusion center of Baylor's Sammons Cancer Center with a low key and routine feeling. Yet there was something very different about the start of this day. For me the atmosphere was charged with an intensity and anticipation of the minutes ahead. I think I was fairly calm on the outside, but inside my heart was racing. I had waited 8 long months for this day.
In the week preceding the transplant I endured my 5th round of chemo to prepare my body for new stem cells. This was by far the most demanding chemo I had experienced, so I was glad it was over.
Finally, it was time for the "transplant". One of oncology nurses, who I had gotten to know very well, came into the room with what looked like a bag of oatmeal, hung it on the IV pole next to my chair and attached it to my central line. For the next 45 minutes the stem cells slowly dripped through the IV line into my body. Every now and then a nurse would come in to shake up the bag of stem cells to keep them from clogging the opening in the IV bag. That was pretty crazy.
When the last stem cell entered my body I had a very surreal feeling. I couldn't put my finger on the feeling, however I knew something was going on in my body.
When the transplant process was done several nurses came into the room and congratulated me by singing "Happy Birthday". For me, this was a new start at life. This was my new "first birthday."
I thank God everyday for the gift of a life saving transplant. I am truly blessed! I am so grateful to my donor who gave so selflessly to make a difference in my life. For everyone that I am fortunate to call my friend, thank you for your support and love. This has been an extraordinary, inspiring journey! I look forward to celebrating many birthdays ahead. It turns out I really do like birthdays.
Have a terrific day! I know I will! God Bless!"
Don has wasted no time in giving back since his transplant 9 years ago. He is a Board of Trustees member for the North Texas Chapter, the co-chair of the Mission Task Force Committee, in several leadership positions through Team In Training and the race director for the Honored Hero Run in Fort Worth that benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.