At 32, life had been good to me. I had a husband, a beautiful little girl, and I was happily pregnant with my second child. For a few months, I’d been feeling tired, and had a cold I just couldn’t shake off. I chalked it up to the pregnancy.
In January 2013, I was diagnosed with AML after a routine blood test related to my pregnancy. The shock was absolutely terrible. Even worse, the treatments were going to be incredibly invasive. I needed to terminate the pregnancy.
The extensive chemotherapy was followed by 10 months of remission, but by May 2014, the cancer was back. I was going to need a stem cell transplant, but none of my family members were compatible. I was going to need to rely on international stem cell donor banks. Being Vietnamese, that was going to be complicated. The majority of registered donors are Caucasian.
I could’ve waited patiently in a hotel room for a match, but I knew time was running out. Instead, I decided to make my entire network aware of the importance of registering with the donor base, not only for me, but for others like me.
Thanks to my background in advertising, we built a mega awareness campaign. From appearing on Tout le monde en parle, a popular French television show in Quebec, to appearing on billboards throughout the country, we made every effort to advance the cause.
It turned out that my story and those of other high profile individuals with cancer, inspired a number of Canadians to register as donors. Nearly 26,000 were added to the donor base with the number of Asian donors rising by 2,000! It was unprecedented.
Finally, after all the work we did, I got the news that a match had been found in October 2014. Thanks to that transplant and all of the other treatments I received, I have been in remission ever since.
My story has a happy ending, and with the help of generous stem cell donors, so many other people with a blood cancer can have a happy ending too!