Over the past couple of years we have following the story of Australian-Croatian mother of two, Tania Soldo-Murphy, from Adelaide in Australia, who has a rare form of leukemia and was in desperate need of a bone marrow donor to save her life.
Despite there being about 28 million people registered on global bone marrow donor registries, there are no compatible donors on the registry for her. Tania, like many Australians, has a mixed ethnicity; her father is from Croatia and her mother’s heritage is from the British Isles (Irish).
Ethnicity is one of the main factors in bone marrow donor matching, but Australia’s (and the world’s) volunteer bone marrow donors do not currently reflect the ethnic diversity of the population.
There has been a lot of interest since we published the article with many people coming forward wanting to help. A couple of months ago Tania gave an update on her situation in a ‘Gratitude Post’.
Today I’m taking a minute to stop…breathe deeply… and count the many, many blessings in my life.
It was on this day July 7 2016, just 3 short years ago, that my world was turned upside down and would never, ever be the same again.
As you all know, I received a diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. But strangely that wasn’t the darkest moment of my life, not even close. That moment was actually quite surreal, almost like I was detached and watching it all happening to someone else. And even though it was the worst news, I was still buoyed by a sense of hope.
I remember thinking, ‘well, this is a bit shit’ followed closely by ‘tell me exactly what I have to do to get better’ and ‘It’s gonna be ok, I’ve got this’, in that order!
I had no idea that the lowest point was still to come. The day my oncologist (aka the smartest, kindest, most brilliant doctor around) looked across his desk at me with a steady gaze and told me that I needed a bone marrow transplant and that if I didn’t get one…well, there was no other option.
So that’s when you, my beautiful friends and family, all rallied around me and I spent the next 6 months in Ashford Hospital receiving my first rounds of chemotherapy. And far out, what a ride it was.
The love, care and support I received during that time, not just from loved ones and the incredible staff at the hospital, but also from the wider community, was just unbelievable.
My story started to spread, first through word of mouth (thanks Facebook) and pretty soon the local media got hold of it and eventually the national and even international media.
It was incredibly humbling to see how many people wanted to try and help in whatever way they could, a lot of them total strangers. I really don’t have any words to express the immense GRATITUDE in my heart for everything everyone has done for me.
So many people have helped me and my family, but I especially want to acknowledge two very important people, my beautiful friends, Jax Evans & Sara Gloede. I seriously don’t know what I would have done without them. They worked tirelessly and incredibly selflessly to help spread my story and raise awareness of the bone marrow registry to find me a donor. They used their incredible skills and vast connections in the industry to help spread the word through social media and traditional media outlets. Thank you, my angels.
As a result of Jax’s ongoing efforts, there have been blood drives held for me across the country and around the world in places as far away as Ireland, Croatia and Canada! And because of all her hard work, I know of FIVE people whose lives have been saved due to the Find Tan a Donor campaign. That’s 5 beautiful souls that I know of personally, I’m not sure how many others there are but one thing’s for sure, there are many, MANY more around the world. Isn’t that incredible?!
As for me, I continue to be completely in remission, which is kind of a miracle, but because of my unique blood type and personal makeup, I will never find a donor match.
Although this could feel devastating, I choose to continue to live every single moment as genuinely joyful as I can.
I love my life and there is just so much to be grateful and happy for. I have the most incredible kids, a ridiculously gorgeous husband, beautiful family, amazing friends, a pinch-me-is-this-real ‘job’ at The Joyful Path and my life is just awesome!
But even with all of this LOVE and immense GRATITUDE in my heart, my life is still very different from the one ‘before’ I got sick. Because once you’ve had cancer, life can never be the same again. Every day is precious and every moment you know there are people out there who are suffering and travelling the same path.
One of those beautiful souls is Danyse Crotti. I first met Danyse while doing our yoga teacher training together back in 2012. Fast forward to July 2016 and we found ourselves back together again, only this time in the oncology ward at Ashford.
She had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Once again, we were in it together, only this time instead of downward dog and grounding savasana, it was long days, bitter medicines and uncomfortable treatments.
And now, Danyse’s cancer has returned and she is back in hospital having more treatment. When I asked her what I could do to help, she said simply, ’Tan, send me your healing light, you have the brightest light I know’. If you’re reading this, can I ask that you also send Danyse your light, too? It really does help.
I don’t want anyone to ever have to go through what I’ve been through, but I know that this has happened to me for a reason. I am here to help others. I may not be a cancer doctor or researcher or even a big fundraiser, but through sharing my personal journey of health and wellness, recovery and resilience, positivity and eternal GRATITUDE, I hope to inspire even just a few people on their journey, whatever that may be.
I don’t feel sorry for myself and I don’t want you to feel sorry for me either. Through everything, I’ve learnt so much and been inspired to learn more about health and nutrition. I’ve even begun a little side project making Tan’s Turmeric paste which is delicious and incredibly nourishing for every cell in your body. I have done so, so many things to help heal myself, Turmeric paste is one that has stuck and I consume it every single day!
So on this day, the 7th of July, I want to say, I love you all. Thank you to everyone far and wide for your ongoing and incredibly generous support and to let you know that I am still here and f***ing digging life!
Oh and one more thing…if you do see me around and you want to ask me how I’m *really* going…how I’m feeling these days or if you’re just curious about my experience with cancer, please do. If I cry, that’s ok. You haven’t ‘upset’ me, you might have just caught me off-guard for a minute but most of all you’ve shown me that you care. And it’ll mean more than you know. That’s not to say I want to talk about cancer all the time, it’s just a reminder to never be afraid to ‘go there’.
Love you all,