National Blood Donor Month
Getting sick on your honeymoon sounds a lot like the beginning of a quirky rom-com movie; but for Everett and Yasma Dunkley, it was hardly that. Instead this scenario was the start of a long, harrowing journey.
“Our world just completely turned around,” said Everett. “It went from one, happiness, to ‘what’s going to happen next’.”
Shortly after returning from their honeymoon in October of 2002, the Dunkleys made multiple visits to doctors who investigated Everett’s sick spell. It was late November when he received a diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
AML is a blood and bone marrow cancer that is one of the most complex forms of leukemia, making it difficult to treat. The cancer progresses rapidly and interferes with the production of normal white and red blood cells, as well as platelets.
Rather than basking in the hope and promise of a new marriage, Everett and Yasma spent their first year in and out of the hospital, uncertain of their future.
“We stayed in the hospital in January and February,” said Yasma. “He was let out in February and then went right back, on Valentine’s Day of course. He was just going downhill really fast.”
Everett received three large doses of chemotherapy from Dec. 2002 to Feb. 2003 and full body radiation that following March.
“After that, my body was just not right and that’s when Carter BloodCare came in, when I had to continue to get blood transfusions,” said Everett. “I received countless bags of blood and platelets thanks to Carter BloodCare.”
Over the course of his treatment, Everett believes he received over 30 transfusions. His doctors believed he also needed a stem cell transplant to stop the disease progression.
In April of 2003, doctors identified a stem cell donor – his own brother- who was an incredibly close match. Everett was able to receive a successful transplant.
Sixteen years and two kids later, Everett remains cancer free. Grateful for his health, he and Yasma continue to live in a true, honeymoon glow.
“Our faith got us through it,” said Everett. “And I always thank my medical team at HEB hospital and the donors who give blood at Carter BloodCare.”
Remarkable stories like Everett’s and Yasma’s remind us that every blood donation matters. This National Blood Donor Month, we thank and celebrate you, our donors, for creating second chances and continuing to #giveforlife.
To schedule an appointment to give blood, visit carterbloodcare.org or call/text (800)366-2834.