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Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic. -Laini Taylor

Eight years ago. Some days it feels a lot more recent than that, but other days it feels like a lifetime ago….

Excitement was bubbling from the staff at Northwestern on June 11, 2012. The technician had just wheeled my stem cells into my room. It started benign enough, a round stainless cylinder on a cart but it quickly resembled something out of a science fiction movie when the technician lifted the cells out of the capsule and the nitrogen vapor wafted into the room. A chaplain arrived to bless the cells and a volunteer brought balloons and trinkets to add festivity to the atmosphere. The day was ripe with hope and unspoken wishes for a life free of MS.

Honestly, the fuss the hospital staff made to mark this occasion was a tad embarrassing but the promise of halting my MS, tempered my embarrassment. Their excitement was contagious and when I have reflected on it over the years, the excitement of that day still brings a shiver down my spine. When the staff left, I was grateful for the quiet. My thoughts were on the future, my family and staying hopeful.

Most who have undergone a stem cell transplant have endured many failed drugs, countless side effects and continued decline in their health. It was hard to believe that a few million cells held the promise of a new healthy journey. Time and a determined patience would show me if those baby cells would be the answer to many hopeful prayers.

Every year on June 11, I try to mark the occasion with an activity. Either a walk, run or swim, depending on the current life situation. A couple of years had me sidelined due to injuries, but I do my best to do something. Using my ability to move, helps me show my gratitude to Dr. Burt, the nurses and staff at Northwestern. June 11, 2015, my third anniversary, remains my most memorable, as that was the first time I ran 3 miles straight, without stopping! It was an enormous feat for me!

Earlier this year, I scoured the internet for fundraising ideas. I wanted something that would reach more people and was not inclusive of MS. In my search, I found the below bracelet. The phrase rang true and I hoped it would be something that resonated with others. Hope infiltrates more places in our lives than we realize. Whether you hope for better health, more money, a faster running time or for peace in the world. Hope is what unites strangers and friends alike.

This morning I will run 8 miles to celebrate this special birthday. I will run these miles for those who are fighting to obtain HSCT, for those who are recovering from HSCT and for those who are no longer able to move the way their mind and heart hope to.

As my last blog detailed, I am holding a month long fundraiser for my stem cell birthday and birth birthday. Please help kick off this fundraiser by donating hope to those waiting to have HSCT. For all donations received today, June 11, 2020, I will mail you a Wish bracelet.

For more about my birthday Runathon fundraiser, please visit my Facebook event and be sure to click “going” if you’d like to watch some of the event on June 27, 2020:



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