Mary has spent the better part of her life thinking about numbers. At work she focuses her time and energy on financials as an accountant. But in her personal life Mary's focus on numbers intensified several years ago when she was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). As part of her treatment, Mary had to have blood work done every three days. Waiting for those numbers each time was a difficult process.
During her treatment, Mary's doctors determined that she would need a bone marrow transplant to survive. In 2006, Mary received a bone marrow transplant from her sister but relapsed in July of 2007. Within two months another donor was identified as a match. This time a man from Geisheim, Germany. In November of that year Mary received her second transplant at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Several years after her second transplant, Mary had the chance to meet Peter, her donor. After dozens of emails back and forth they decided Peter would come to the United States. Following a visit to New York, Peter met Mary and her family in Milwaukee.
Mary says they had only planned to spend one day together even though Peter would be in the area for four. The first night Mary and her husband stayed up late into the evening talking with Peter. Mary knew she wanted to spend more time with him.
Peter became fast friends with Mary and her family and the pair still keeps in touch to this day. Peter has been humbled and amazed by the praise he has received by Mary and her family. For him marrow donation was just the right thing to do. But for Mary it meant a second chance at life.
During her treatment, Mary also received numerous blood products. She thinks it is important for donors to understand the importance of what they're doing.
"I'd be in the hospital and the moment I'd get a couple of units of blood I'd feel great. I'd get up and start walking around." Mary says.
Mary is so grateful to all of the donors who helped to save her life. She wants to encourages everyone to join the marrow registry. "It's easy," she says. "All it takes is a swab of your cheek and you could save a life."
In November 2012, Mary celebrated five years of remission.