Physical health is a gift so easy to take for granted – until something scary or dramatic happens. Thankfully, there are a myriad of nonprofits focused on research and improving health outcomes. Through the Employee Giving Program, it is easy to find hundreds of organizations focused on disease, disorders and medical research or general health. This story shared by King County employee, Denise Ainslie, is a powerful reminder of the importance these organizations play.
Ten years ago, Denise’s husband, Ron, was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Polycythemia Vera. PV is a type of blood cancer that causes your bone marrow to make too many red cells, resulting in a myriad of health problems. For years, Ron was able to keep most of these health problems under control, but August of 2020 (in the middle of the pandemic) brought a new dimension to his disease.
On a sunny morning, Ron woke up feeling like something was drastically wrong. He was very cold and had waves of vertigo. They quickly made an appointment to see the doctor that day, but before leaving the house, Ron collapsed. He was unconscious and started vomiting blood. A terrified Denise called the paramedics for transport. Ron spent 6 days in the hospital, receiving blood transfusions and undergoing numerous tests to determine what was wrong. His disease had progressed; starting to turn into Myelofibrosis (a bone marrow disorder), his spleen was enlarged, and he had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in his stomach.
As Ron started his radiation treatments for the Lymphoma, Denise turned to the internet to find out more information about his Polycythemia Vera and Myelofibrosis. Thankfully, her research found the MPN Research Foundation (Blood Cancer Research Foundation #2753). This foundation has a single goal to stimulate research in pursuit of new treatments – and eventually a cure – for Polycythemia Vera, Essential Thrombocythemia and Myelofibrosis (known collectively as Myeloproliferative Neoplasms – MPNs).
The next chapter of Ron and Denise’s story is a good one. One year after his collapse, Ron’s Lymphoma is in remission and he is feeling great on a new medication that the MPN Research Foundation championed for FDA approval. Ron has more energy and is happy to be back doing the things he loves (which of course makes Denise happy). Just as importantly, the Ainslies found community through the foundation. Medical trauma and illness can be isolating for the patient and the care giver. Connecting with others who understand the unique needs of Ron’s condition and can share about treatments that are working will continue to be helpful.
Denise was delighted to find that Blood Cancer Research Foundation (#2753) was already in the Employee Giving Program. She loves the ease of setting up payroll donation (still available via the pledge form) and donating unused vacation time for an organization that has helped their family.
The MPN Research Foundation continues to be a driving force in blood cancer research and the development of new treatment options for MPN patients. Please consider donating to this worthy cause.
(Denise is open to connecting with others who may find themselves in a similar situation.)