April Jakubauskas
April Jakubauskas

Giving Is Better Than Receiving
Thursday, December 22
In September of 2012, I was given the news that I had stage 3 multiple myeloma with secondary plasma cell leukemia. The only option was to get me into a deep remission through a combination treatment and then start the first of two stem cell transplants.

This required harvesting my own stem cells, which was a process all of its own, then putting me in the hospital for two weeks and zapping me with a high dose of chemo. That chemo would then put me in a very deep remission because the plan was that my transplant doctor, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, would give me a second transplant received from a donor. After my brother tested negative for a match, the team had to go through a registry called Be The Match. That is where wonderful selfless people swab their mouths and send that swab to the Be the Match registry where it waits in a lab for someone like myself in need. My donor, who I owe my life to, was a nine out of 10 match, indicating that her DNA components and mine were similar, therefore her immune system is able to take over mine along with her blood type, and together, we fight cancer.

When I was approached and asked if I was interested in joining a team of multiple myeloma survivors and warriors, I thought it was an incredible opportunity, but to tell you the truth, I would much rather be getting spa treatments and drinking margaritas on a beach to stick it to myeloma. But, after thinking about all of the support and inspiration that I am giving cancer patients, and just people in general, on this adventure, I feel as though I'm turning my selfishness into selflessness.

I am telling people that you can come back from a life-or-death experience of anxiety, pain and suffering and turn it around mentally and physically to climb a huge mountain halfway across the world. I want to bring hope to fellow cancer patients that, with today's science and medical breakthroughs, through companies and organizations like Takeda Oncology, The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, Be The Match, and The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, you can still get excited about life and living. I am honored to be climbing this big mountain of hope with five other myeloma patients, and together, we will concur.
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