Just in time for Valentine’s Day, your favorite lovebirds are back – 2012 Ambassador Sarah and her honey Patrick. You remember how it all began, almost 10 years ago – boy meets girl, girl fights cancer with boy by her side, boy pops the question. Now read on for the happiest of happy endings.
Photos courtesy of Chelsie Darling Photography
Patrick and I tied the knot on October 29, 2016. It started like any other good day, with Starbucks and reflection.
I kept thinking, ‘I am about to marry the man who had loved me through it all — through long distances, relapse, transplant, recovery, and finishing my degree. He has never failed to love me.’
I had no fears about our marriage standing the test of time, because we had already been through so much together. Our wedding day had been more than nine years in the making – and what a day it was!
Abby was first diagnosed with Ph+ ALL, a rare and aggressive type of leukemia, in February 2011. Soon, Abby was on a unique combination chemotherapy treatment available to her because of St. Baldrick’s-funded research.
Over the summer, Abby’s dad shared some news with us: Abby was still cancer free, but her organs were failing. The doctors told her she had 48 hours to live. But Abby disagreed, and four months later, Abby’s mom wants us to know that Abby is still here — and she’s been busy!
Abby and her mom on the beach in the spring. Abby underwent a bone marrow transplant for relapsed Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January 2015 and has been battling complications ever since.
It’s been four months since we brought Abby home.
We brought our baby home because the doctors truly believed that Abby was beyond saving and it was time for end-of-life care. All of the signs were there. To all of the health care professionals from many hospitals and specialties, Abby’s body was failing and we were doing more to her than for her.
Last month, we shared a glimpse into Abby’s life after a bone marrow transplant and the complications brought on by the very treatments that saved her life. Although cancer free, some of her organs are beyond repair. But even through these difficult days, Abby’s spirit remains strong. Her dad shares this update.
Abby with her family.
Thursday morning before work, Abby’s doctors called.
On the line were two of her transplant doctors, some intensive care specialists, a social worker, and a quality of life doctor. They suggested I come back to the hospital to be with Abby and her mom, although there was nothing emergent.
Abby is sick, they said.
Today is National Cancer Survivors Day, and we’re bringing you an update on one incredible 9-year-old: Abby. (You might remember her from this video.) Abby’s cancer free today, but for the past year, she’s been battling complications of the bone marrow transplant that saved her life.
Watch the new video to see why cancer free doesn’t mean trouble free.
Last month, 2012 Ambassador Sarah told us how excited she was for her upcoming shave. We were, too — so we filmed it!
When Sarah Swaim says that she knows what kids with cancer are going through, it’s true.
That’s because the three-time shavee is also a two-time childhood cancer survivor.
It’s been over three years since 2012 Ambassador Sarah has seen herself bald. She’s breaking that streak on Saturday to be a shavee℠ for the third time. As a childhood cancer survivor, Sarah writes about what bravery looks like to her and what makes shaving so special this time.
Sarah (left) smiles with Honored Kid Abby at Camp Fantastic in 2015.
I’m often asked if I’m nervous about my upcoming shave.
I can honestly say I’m not at all. After all, this will be my third time shaving my head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation!
The usual response I get is, “You’re so brave.” But I don’t see myself as the brave one.
Today Abby turns 9, and for the second year in a row, she’s celebrating her birthday in the hospital. Her mom, Patty, reflects on the past year and all the challenges their family has weathered together, from relapse to transplant to today.
Abby last November, two months after her relapse.
Looking back at where we have been, the many states of mind and motions we have experienced … it’s enough to make my head spin.
At this time last year, one of our Honored Kids had a new lease on life. (You may remember her from this adorable video.)
At age 4, Abby was diagnosed with an aggressive childhood cancer called Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Thanks to research funded by St. Baldrick’s, she went into remission.
But this fall, Abby’s cancer returned. She’s having a bone marrow transplant today.
Here’s an update on Abby.
This summer, Abby completed a kids triathlon.
What do we do now?
Abby was diagnosed with Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive form of childhood cancer, when she was 4.
After doing that daily — along with a whole host of different treatments — for the last 32 months, it’s scary to stop.
We are extremely thankful for what we have and that we still have Abby here with us. But to say that we are celebrating every day isn’t true. At times I find myself holding my breath and waiting.
Every time I hear her coughing or complaining of something, my mind goes all over the place. For the past almost-three years, it’s never been just a cold; it was usually pneumonia. It never was just a tummy ache; it was C. diff, rotavirus, typhlitis, you name it. And now, without the safety net of chemo, is it the dreaded “R-word” — relapse?
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