In September of 2017, my wife and I were in New Jersey with family celebrating Labor Day weekend when I passed out, fell and hit my head on a granite counter top. I received a nice shiner, and the next day we decided that it would be a good idea to go to the ER to have it looked at just in case. Weeks leading up to the fall, I was very tired and bruising pretty easy, but thought was worn down because I was helping my mom every chance I could after losing my dad that July.
Well, when I went to St. Peter’s Hospital, they did a head scan and noticed I had blast on my legs so they decided to do blood work. When the blood work came back, they told me an ambulance was coming for me and I would have a room at Albany Med. The doctor rolled up a chair and told me I had a blood cancer.
At Albany Med, they told me I would be there for 4-6 weeks because I had ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with the Philadelphia B positive) and I would need a bone marrow transplant. I went through 5 rounds of chemo, 7 spinal taps and a couple of bone marrow biopsies. My treatment continued at Dana Farber, and in December 2017, we received a call that we had a donor. In January 2018, I went to Brigham Woman’s Hospital for the transplant. I received 2 days of high chemo and 3 days of full body radiation before I received my transplant February 1, 2018.
After I was released in March of 2018, we had to go to Boston weekly but we needed someone to drive us since I couldn’t and my wife’s back surgeries prevented her from driving.
We had a lot going on.
I hit a few bumps with graph verse host disease, but we switched up meds and I was making progress again. Weekly appointments moved to monthly visits, and in August 2018, I was strong enough to drive back and forth for checkups.
After celebrating my 1 year post transplant, I was able to contact my donor via phone. I’m forever grateful that a young, humble kid was able to give me a second chance at life.
Thanks to my wife and our friends and family who have my back, I am getting stronger and empowered to fight hard to get better. I can’t wait to get back to having a sense of normalcy and to get back to the things that I like to do and not look back!
Jim Calhoun, Jr.
Please visit https://pages.lightthenight.org/uny/AlbanyNY19/CalhounStrong if you would like to donate to Jim’s Light The Night fundraising goal.