Monday, April 25, 2016

The Motivation Behind Team Fight Like Hell

Team Fight Like Hell organized a golf tournment to raise money
for their Light The Night Walk team in Ann Marie's honor.
They raised more than $19,000!

Ann Marie Herbst, an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) survivor and Fort Worth Light The Night Walk honored hero, recently shared her personal story at the Fort Worth Corporate Recruitment Event.  Read her script, which brought the audience to tears.

"My name is Ann Marie Herbst and I am an acute myeloid leukemia survivor.  At the time I was diagnosed I was a seemingly healthy and very happy 29-year-old.  My husband, Jay, and I had a 15-month-old baby girl and hopes of expanding our family.  Fortunately, the desire to have another child would be what would take me to the doctor for blood work, as I had no other symptoms. 

Unfortunately, instead of getting exciting news of a new baby, we were faced with the shocking and heartbreaking news of a cancer diagnosis.  I know that bad news never has good timing but receiving the call on a Friday made for a very long weekend.  On Monday I went to a clinic in Fort Worth.  I received my first ever bone marrow biopsy.  Looking back I am glad I didn’t know what was coming and I was so desperate for someone to help me that I was willing to fight through any amount of pain.  The following Tuesday I was admitted as a patient at UTSW in Dallas.  Unfortunately they do all their own testing so I had to have my second biopsy.  At the time I was so relieved to be in a doctor’s care and I had no idea I would suffer through 4 intense rounds of chemotherapy, spend 2 nights in the ICU with the fear of heart failure, get the flu with no immune system, that I would see people come into the hospital to never return home or that I wouldn’t be able to see my baby girl for 87 nights.   As every loving mother knows, putting yourself before your child goes against everything you stand for but my choice was now or forever and that answer was simple.  I had to get better so I could have her forever.  People ask me all the time what the hardest part of cancer was and I can say without a doubt that for me putting motherhood on hold was the most heart wrenching.  At the same time, I also know how incredibly blessed I was to have her to go home to.  

Prior to starting treatment, I spent 5 days in the hospital waiting on bone marrow results.  At the time I felt like I was sitting around waiting to die.  What I know now is that I am incredibly blessed that my case was an urgency but not an emergency and that I had that time to wait on the results because the doctors were able to diagnosis my specific genetic mutation and treat me accordingly.  As strange as it sounds, my doctor was happy with my mutation because the research for my diagnosis have come so far and the results of the specific treatment I received are extremely promising, which was surprising for an AML diagnosis.  In the past, an AML diagnosis yielded grim results and protocols remained practically the same for nearly 40 years. Thanks to the more than $8 million that LLS has invested in AML research in the past few years, some of which went to researchers at UT Southwestern, that is rapidly changing and my story had a happy ending. We are on a path toward cures, and I stand before you today because my dream is to live in a world without cancer and in the meantime, for every cancer patient to have the same chance at fighting as I did and we simply can’t get there without funding and research. Thank you for your time and for allowing me to share my story. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to take such a painful experience and turn it into something so positive."  

Survivors like Ann Marie are what motivate the thousands of LLS supporters and volunteers in North Texas to keep fighting and fundraising to fund much needed cures.  Motivated by Ann Marie's story?  Walk alongside Ann Marie and her team, Fight Like Hell, at the Fort Worth Light The Night Walk on Sunday, October 30th. 


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