Philip survived leukemia with a blood stem cell transplant
Philip, a retired army physician from San Antonio, TX, was feeling ill after returning home from a trip to Mexico back in September 2010. He said, “I knew by the look on the young doctors’ faces it was bad. They said I had acute myeloid leukemia and my white blood cell count was over 10,000.” He was moved to Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base and had a cardiac incident that night. With overwhelming fear, Philip thought he was not going to make it, but with family by his side, Philip began his long road of treatment and recovery.
Philip’s family, including six children and eight grandchildren, were very sad that they were unable to donate for the transplant that could save his life. He said, “I felt like I was running out of time and the thought of a stranger donating for me seemed impossible.” With the news that a match had been found for him, they felt pure joy. Philip explained, “It was a stranger who was going to give me another opportunity at life. The appreciation I felt was overwhelming.” He added, “When I found out they had a donor for me I felt warm again. I could take a deep breath and smile after a year of never knowing if there was going to be a tomorrow. The desperation melted away.”
The months leading up to the transplant were difficult for Philip. When the staff informed him that the plane with his transplant had landed and everything was a go, he became tearful. After such a long wait, he kept thinking, "I cannot believe that this is finally happening."
Philip’s recovery was long, but he explained that having a large family helped by providing many happy occasions such as his son’s wedding and daughter’s graduation as well as births, birthdays, and other reasons to celebrate. A blood drive was organized at his daughter’s high school in his name and neighbors helped out by bringing food and mowing the lawn. He said, “I was never alone. It was mostly love and kindness.”
Months later, Philip was invited to meet his blood stem cell donor for the very first time in a very unique way. He traveled to Chicago, IL, where he was introduced to his hero Tamar on the set of the Whitney Reynolds Show, a national talk show that airs PBS. The amazing meeting can be viewed online here.
Philip said, “Meeting Tamar was a gift, an opportunity to experience life, to meet an angel—a bright star in my life. I feel forever bonded to this young woman. Somehow, ‘thank you’ will never be enough.” He added, “Every day I wake up is a precious gift from a selfless woman who has touched my heart.”
Philip explained that, following his transplant and long recovery, “My personal outlook on life has changed, especially in regards to my family and wife. I thought I was going to live a long time, and I took so much for granted before. I appreciate everything, every holiday, every family celebration, all of it. I spend more time listening and laughing. I know what it’s like to not have any time left. I know now to not waste a moment.”
Philip is 67 years old. A retired Army physician, he lives in San Antonio, TX, and enjoys bike riding, hiking, and playing racket ball. He enjoys traveling and recently visited Turkey, Crete, and Israel.