Blood and marrow drive at Sutter Cancer Center June 15th
Sacramento, Calif. - - Talking with Selene Arista, you would have never guessed she is already a cancer survivor. Last year the 20-year-old was busy enjoying life as a new mom to a baby girl when she started noticing bruises on her body. First, she thought nothing of it, but after a while her mom suggested they go to their local health clinic in Reno.
"The doctors ran some tests and told me I had a very low platelet count," said Arista. "They gave me a treatment to help my numbers go up. I didn't think much of it, but then two days later the doctor called us back and told me I needed to go to an emergency room immediately."
At the hospital Arista went through more tests. Finally, she was given a diagnosis of leukemia.
"I had never heard of leukemia before so initially I wasn't sure what to think of it," she said. "My mom was really upset. But I have faith in God, and I knew I was going to be OK."
Arista will be on hand at the upcoming blood and marrow drive at Sutter Cancer Center, Sacramento on Friday, June 15, sharing her story and cheering on those who donate. The drive, co-sponsored by BloodSource, will be at Sutter Cancer Center, 2800 L St., on the first floor in Classrooms 3 and 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 60, be willing to donate to any patient in need and meet the health guidelines.
After undergoing a month of chemotherapy at her local hospital in Reno, Arista's physician referred her to Michael Carroll, M.D., medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Sutter Cancer Center in Sacramento.
"When we first met Dr. Carroll, he was so nice," she said. "He explained the process of a blood and marrow transplant to me and my mom in detail. He also suggested we test my family to see if there was a match."
None of Arista's family members were a match, so while she started another round of chemotherapy, the Sutter Cancer Center Blood and Marrow Transplant Team started searching through the National Marrow Donor Program's national donor registry.
On Dec. 31, 2011, Arista had her transplant from an unrelated donor at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. On the cusp of New Year's Day, she was ready to make a new start to renewed health.
"I was tired after my transplant, and after being discharged I had to have blood infusions," she said. "But slowly I was able to get off most of my medications and start walking and playing with my daughter more and more. I am used to keeping busy, and I think that helped my recovery."
Five months later, Arista has a clear biopsy, her donor cells have almost fully taken over and there are no leukemia cells present.
"I've had so much support through this experience," she said. "From the BMT team who provided us with a housing grant so my family could stay local while I received my treatment, to those that helped find my donor, and to my family, including my daughter who is only 2 years old, but would ask me how I was feeling."