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Inspirational Stories


Leukemia Survivor

I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in March 2010 at the age of 48.  The cancer advanced rapidly and I was treated with a fludarabine/cyclophosphamide/rituximab (FCR) regimen at MD Anderson in Houston and locally in my hometown of Raleigh, NC between January and July of 2011.  The treatment achieved a partial remission. However, in September of the same year I was diagnosed with a large diffuse b-cell lymphoma tumor in my lung.  The Richter's transformation was a devastating diagnosis, but my doctor, Michael Keating of MD Anderson, told me that he had a plan.  After two rounds of hyper-CVAD chemotherapy, I received a bone marrow transplant from my sister, Laure McKenna, at MD Anderson on that December 21.  Four months later I was declared cancer-free!  

Since my recovery, I have raised more than $150,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by participating in several events, including "custom" events, most notably a 28-day backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail in 2013, less than two years out from my transplant.  I blogged my experience at "What's up Doc" --  I continue to work with the local NC chapter on events, speaking engagements, and fundraising.