Dear Jack

April 20th, 2016

Kari Lee

Dear Jack,

Where to begin? I guess the beginning is the only place. In March of 2015, I received the devastating blow that I had a very resistant form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). I was immediately started on an intense chemo therapy regimen and admitted to the hospital. With this admission I was unable to see my two small children and everything fell to my husband and family. Unfortunately, I had many complications that occurred throughout my treatments. This forced me to be in the hospital for over 65 days. During this time I was only able to visit with my children on two occasions. So as you can imagine I was heart broken, but had to maintain my strength and mental facilities to not only fight the disease, but to fight for my family. After some time it was decided that I would need to receive a bone marrow transplant. This was a hard fact to accept, but if it was going to give me a second chance at living and caring for my children, we were all in.

I was released home for a month to gain my strength and prepare for transplant. They always told me that it was going to be like preparing for a marathon so I needed to be as positive as possible. Thankfully, the time I spent at home was just what the doctor ordered. By the time I came back for transplant I had gained weight, gained strength, and definitely gained a strength in my heart I had never experienced before. I think it was also good mentally for my husband and children that I was home. My motto from day one had been Smiles, Miles, and Determination. We definitely used this motto to get through rough days in the hospital and again while I was home for the month.

Then in June, I was readmitted to the hospital for my final rounds of chemo, to receive my new cells, and celebrate my second chance (or second birthday as some like to call it). And we did just that. We had a lovely party in my room, complete with lots of family, streamers, balloons, and banners. After that we waited for my new cells to take hold and start fighting the AML. Once my body was showing good signs of engraftment I was moved to an apartment near the hospital, as my house was just outside the guidelines of proximity to the hospital. So for the next three months I lived at the apartment where my mom, sister, or husband were my caregiver. Although it was not home, it was better because I got to start to feel human again and could see my children and husband more frequently. It was so lovely. Then once I reached 100days past transplant I was able to move home. Although I was in the clinic two to three times a week, it was heaven to finally be home with family and starting to not feel like such a drain on my family.


Unfortunately, since this time both my husband and I have relapsed. So you can imagine how exhausted we were both receiving treatment and the toll that it was taking on our children. Thankfully, this is when you came into our lives and are not only helping my children to have something to look forward to, but in turn are giving my husband and I the greatest joy of seeing our children gain back some of their innocence.

See, one of my Life List items was a play set for our backyard. You can only imagine the hours of fun that our boys will have playing on this beautiful play set. It is more than I could ever imagined. Just knowing that we will now have the energy to watch our boys play and climb in the comfort of our backyard brings me to tears.

Not only has this gift given us a new light, but just working with the wonderful people of this foundation has brought many smiles and laughter to my hospital room. So, thank you for all that you have done for my family and the light that you have brought. I could never express in words the significance that this new relationship has in our family’s life.

Thank you!


Author: Kari Lee, DJF Life List Warrior and AYA leukemia patient

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