I’m starting to receive some newsletters from the LLS (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) containing some touching stories about the families we are helping. I’d like to share with you Christine Wonica‘s story, a blood cancer patient who became part of the LLS family through LLS’ First Connection program, one of the many support programs available to patients across the U.S. and Canada.
Christine and Tom Wonika had what many would call the perfect life – they had a new daughter, they would soon move into a new home, and Tom had just started a new job. But in March 2002 Christine found out that she had acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). It was a major challenge and they tackled it together.
Christine, like most AML patients, was encouraged to begin chemotherapy. While Christine was getting this treatment, her husband Tom contacted The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) for advice and guidance. He soon learned about the First Connection program, which matches patients with trained peer volunteers who have been through blood cancer. Christine was able to talk to someone else who had also had AML. It was a great relief.
“We shared our experiences. Just hearing the similarities that we had was very comforting. It was good to know that I wasn’t alone or crazy and that other people felt the same way,” says Christine.
Christine was in remission after her first phase of chemotherapy, but her cancer returned nine months later. She had more chemotherapy, and then had a successful bone marrow transplant in November 2003. Throughout the entire ordeal, the family counted their blessings. Christine and Tom’s parents were able to step in when needed, and Tom was able to continue working.
Despite the challenges that came with cancer Christine admits that she feels the experience of living with AML was one of the best things that could have happened to her. She’s stronger, and has more compassion and passion for life.
“The fight against cancer is really bad. But the light at the end of the tunnel is more amazing than you can ever imagine. Now I have the chance to really appreciate the things that I fought so hard to keep in my life – like the sun shining and my daughter’s smiles.”