A BMT Anniversary
June 20, 2003: Casey underwent a bone marrow transplant that saved his life at Cincinnati Children's hospital.
Today, Casey is a 19-year old who begins his sophomore year at UC in the fall.
Casey was diagnosed with AML leukemia when he was two and a half years old. After initially going into remission, his leukemia returned. A bone marrow transplant was his last option. Nobody in our family was a match for Casey, so we were at the mercy of the national bone marrow donor registry. Because there was not a perfect match found, doctors told us there was about a 10-14-percent chance the transplant would work.
I was more scared that day than at any point in my life. The transplant lasted about 90-minutes.
I'll never forget two things:
1. Casey was awake and watching TLC's home makeover show Trading Spaces during the transplant.
2. When the transplant was over Casey said he was hungry and ordered spaghetti for dinner from the Children's Hospital cafeteria.
When doctors tell you your two and a half year old son has AML leukemia, your life stops. From remission, to the return of the leukemia, to a bone marrow transplant, you spend every moment hoping and praying. You make deals with God. When you get the news your son is cancer free, you celebrate.
We don't take anniversaries like this for granted. Not when we struggled to hold it together as we wondered if Casey was going to make it from one day to the next, one week to the next, one birthday to the next.
Casey has dealt with cataract surgery, glasses and braces as a result of the rounds of radiation treatment he received. He deals with a weakened immune system each day of his life.
So many life challenges are still ahead.
I will always believe the defining moment of Casey's challenge came one night in the hospital room when he was about four years old. He'd gone through a crappy day of chemo. He was throwing up most of the day. I put him to bed and we said our nightly prayer. I told him the next day would be a good day. He looked at me and asked, "was today a bad day?"
I will never forget that moment. Ever since that day I've tried to not allow myself to think I'm having a bad day.
We will never forget the support and prayers offered to Casey over the years.
On occasion, I will pull out boxes of cards, letters and emails we received about Casey during his time in the hospital. I sit and read them. It reinforces how fortunate we have been as a family.
We thank God, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, a stranger that donated her marrow and thank you for your thoughts and prayers over the years. We are so blessed.
He's our hero. Happy Anniversary, Casey!
Every anniversary I read the columns Paul Daugherty wrote about Casey:
Every day is a victory for Casey McAlister
Life twist that's beyond words
Shannon Russell, of The Athletic, came to our house for this feature a year ago.
The woman that donated her marrow to Casey had been in the system for over a decade and never been called as a match. She was a mother living in the Boston suburbs. Please consider registering in the national marrow donor program. You can save a life.