Wednesday on Saturday

Wednesday Addams… a classic television character was the recent choice of a party we were invited to with an Addams Family Theme.

Wednesday, “the dreaded day” seemed fitting in many ways for Kelsey.  The mention of the weekday sends a jolt of fear and frustration to Kelsey each week.  We were surprised that she decided to dress the part, but being Wednesday “the worst day of the week” on Saturday made her smile.

Kelsey said that this was the first and probably last Wednesday she would enjoy talking about.

Wednesday on Wednesday does not have the same sentiment, but at least she found a way to smile for Wednesday (on Saturday).

Strength

The brave words below are from a young woman with dada2 (Kelsey’s PAN is a manifestation of dada2).  She is an inspiration to me, and I am proud and honored to share her words with you.  Thank you, Anna Maria.

My name is Anna Maria. I’m 24 years old and in February, I had a bone marrow transplant.  I can say what I experienced and what I live by myself. In July 2017, I was told that I had to undergo bone marrow transplant therapy and that I would have no other solutions other than that.

I found myself facing two paths: one was to decide to continue in the disease which would soon bring me to death, or decide to fight for a living and then undergo the bone marrow transplant. If I am still here, it is because I have decided the second way. When I was told all this, I was very scared because it meant postponing my degree, university exams, enrollment in specialist university, the carefree age, the outings with friends, and many other things.

I cried a lot, then I told myself that without health and the transplant, I would have renounced all these things and much else, I would have renounced life itself. In short, I would have faced a few years, always spent in hospital to feel bad. While with the transplant, I would have made some sacrifices in this first year, but then I would have had a beautiful life and I would have enjoyed all the things I lost.

So with courage, I took this choice or the choice to live. I immediately understood that it was an important step in my life and I am very happy with this choice.  I will always keep it in my heart and I will be able to tell it to others. Of course now my path is not finished yet. I’m halfway, but I can tell you that I’m very well. I came to a point where the white blood cells were no longer produced because the lymphocytes had taken over.  I suffered from very strong vasculitic episodes. All these problems had invalidated my life, I was not really well.

Transplantation is the best weapon currently available to eliminate vasculitic episodes due to DADA2 and is strongly necessary, if not indispensable, to refurbish the immune system.  To give courage regarding the issue of hair loss: I obviously lost them too, but if I have to be honest, I find myself much more beautiful like that!

After about two months from chemotherapy, my hair is already growing back. We who face all this, the pain, the suffering, we are special, and we are brave.  This gives us a march more than the others. I can tell you that I’ve never been so happy in all my life.

Helpless to Hopeful

Sometimes I sit and stare at Kelsey in amazement.  I am continuously amazed by her beauty, her wisdom, and her poise.  More often than not, it is because aside from being truly dazzled by the fact that she is my daughter, I am in amazement that she could possibly have this hidden condition that so few people can truly understand.

Dr. Chip Chambers helped explained the terror or the rare disease dada2, which manifests as PAN for Kelsey, at our Second Annual Gala.   I will share his speech in the near future, but one of the sentiments he shared has particularly stuck with me.

How would you feel when your five year old is having strokes and the doctors cannot tell you why or tell you what to expect next?

Having lived through that pain while my daughter was three and living that question on a daily basis, I can tell you the answer.  The answer is fear of the unknown, fear of what you will wake up to every morning, and fear that you are not and have not done enough as a parent.

For those of you who attended our Gala, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  No parent wants to live in fear or to feel helpless for their child.  Your support, generosity, and love helps my family feel more hopeful than helpless.

We doubled our efforts from last year and will continue to fundraise, speak out, and help anyone else who finds themselves affected by PAN and dada2.

Our Third Annual Gala will be even bigger and better.  Save the date, November 23, 2018.

Image may contain: text

Wednesday Worry

This morning, I injected my daughter with life-saving medicine.  For two years, I have been doing so.  I have lost sleep, weight, and what seems like my sanity.  How can I loathe something that in reality helps my five-year-old walk without pain?  It is my Wednesday worry and one I’m ready to talk about with whoever wants to listen.

Mary-Claire King changed our lives by identifying the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer genes that have become household names.  Today, I spoke with founder and president of the DADA2 FoundationDr. Eugene Chambers, an accomplished doctor and father of two children with the recessive genetic condition DADA2.  Along with being diagnosed with PAN, my daughter Kelsey has the genetic condition DADA2.

We are committed to raising awareness and finding a cure for our children and those we have yet to meet.  As BRCA has become a household name, so should DADA2.  November 11 will mark a historic day as the Inaugural International Conference on Deficiency of ADA2 will bring this vision closer to reality.   Physicians, researchers, and families from around the globe will gather to share stories as well as diagnosis and treatment options moving forward.    

One phone call today made my Wednesday worry seem less worrisome.  I hung up the phone overwhelmed by the unfortunate and fateful nature of our call.  With a will, there is always a way…