Posted by: jaynedearborn | June 30, 2010

Healing and Peace At Duke

Dr. Kurtzberg and Me

So I’ve had a bit of a delay since Mike and I returned from our videotaping trip for the Blue Butterfly Campaign.  Things have been busy.

After visiting Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and interviewing Dr. Stella Davies,  Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Mike and I headed to Durham North Carolina (10 hour car drive with my son…it doesn’t get any better than that!) to interview a family still in the leukemia battle and Max’s beloved Doc, Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, Director of Duke University’s Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Program and pioneer of cord blood transplants.

Pulling up to the front entrance of Duke University Medical Center left me with a huge lump in my throat and a sick feeling in my stomach.  I wasn’t sure what it would be like to return to the last place Max was alive and all the memories of his stay in the hospital came flooding back.  As I shared my experience with Mike, he kept reassuring me that I would be fine and to keep my sh…t together.  He’s very stoic and his college buddy was in the car.  Crying was not allowed!

Once there, we met a wonderful family who had come all the way from Buenos Aires to have their 18 year old daughter, Romina, receive a cord blood transplant for Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  Romina was 2 weeks post cord blood transplant and looking like a million bucks.  Her donor cells were 98% present which is an amazing feat.  This means that her old immune system was gone and her new donor cells/new immune system had taken over.  News that every patient and parent wants to hear.  Romina agreed to be interviewed for our video and she was such a delightful young lady and loves handbags too.  Imagine that??

Next stop…the Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit where Max stayed for 7 months.  It felt like it had been a lifetime since we had been there and I suppose that’s a good thing.  Again, more memories came flooding back….no tears.  Mike was still with me.

Last stop…..our interview with Dr. Kurtzberg.  I continued to be inspired by this amazing person.  She is truly an earth angel.  Her office is adorned with gifts and artwork given to her by her patients over the years.  She is a brilliant physician with a heart of gold, and she makes you feel so welcome in her office.   We film the interview and then reminisce about Max and his delightful personality; the time I set off the fire alarm on the unit making potato pancakes for Max.  Yes the fire department showed up and yes I was embarrassed!  Dr. K. validates the importance of the work we are doing at Blue Butterfly Campaign and encourages us to stay the course.  More work needs to be done in this area.

At the end of the day, Mike and I are pretty exhausted both physically and emotionally.  We agree that it was healing to be back and to see how far we’ve come since those days at Duke.  Grateful that we are where we are today and for all that we’ve learned along the way.  My heart goes out to the families that are still in the battle.  A place no parent ever wants to be.  I feel full inside and I knew without a doubt that the work we are doing is so incredibly needed and we are right where we are supposed to be.  A great sense of peace comes over me.

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