Kelsey Trusty Bishop was attending nursing school in November 2011 when she was hit by a sudden wave of extreme fatigue and dizziness one day. Following a battery of tests, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
She started chemotherapy the next day. “I had a great prognosis,” she reflected. “I just needed to do the six months of chemotherapy.” Kelsey had no issues with the treatment, and the cancer went into remission once the six months were over. But, just over a year following the initial chemo, the news was not so positive.
“I found out I had relapsed,” she said. At the time, she was 12 weeks pregnant and would be ineligible for the peripheral blood stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant) her doctors said was necessary for complete recovery. The doctors decided to do “maintenance chemo” to remove the cancer while Kelsey was pregnant, and then move on with the transplant once she had the baby.
The cancer went into remission again, but in May of last year, at 17 weeks pregnant, the baby passed away. This, as she put it, “changed the game.” “Instead of looking at a transplant in October, we’re looking at a transplant in July,” she said. She initially believed one of her three siblings would be a transplant match, but tests showed otherwise. “We initially heard there were two matches, with my siblings,” she said. “We were so excited. But about a week later, we got a call saying there’d been a lab mistake. My siblings are matching to each other, but they don’t match me.”
After a few months of arduously searching, Emory University and Be The Match located a donor for Kelsey. Her donor is unrelated and unknown to Kelsey and her family, which resonates with the family’s strong faith that God provides miracles. She received the life saving cells from her donor on September 19th, 2013. In September, Kelsey will celebrate her two year transplant anniversary.
The family remains strong in their faith and optimistic about what the future holds, although it has been difficult at times. Kelsey remains fervently positive about her prognosis, and what the future holds. “But I also find it a privilege. This is the cure for cancer, for me. This is a privilege. This is not a bad thing, and it’s not the end of the road. This is what’s going to cure me…”.