My daughter Amy was diagnosed in 2010 with leukemia, after her sophomore year in college. She spent two separate month-long hospital stays at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital during that summer. She had chemotherapy to get her into remission in the first month and a very important stem cell transplant from her brother Matt in the second month stay. Amy missed her junior year at college but graduated with her class on time by taking on-line classes. Amy realized she wanted to become a nurse after seeing the tremendous impact nurses have on the patients’ care in the hospital. Amy went back to school and is now an RN at UMass Pediatric ICU in Worcester.
Amy gave birth to Lucas on April 12, 2019. This miracle was eight years in the making. During Amy’s treatments, the doctors knew that the radiation Amy endured during the stem cell transplant would make it unlikely that she would be able to conceive. At age 19, Amy knew she wanted to have kids in the future so Dana-Farber doctors recommended they harvest her eggs prior to the transplant. The doctors also told Amy that there is a higher success rate if fertilized embryos were frozen but that required a donor. It was difficult to ask Josh, her boyfriend of almost 3 years, to donate but he agreed. Amy and Josh were married almost 3 years ago. As time went on and as Amy recovered, the doctors thought it would be worthwhile to try IVF. The date that Amy received the stem cells from Matt is considered her “new birthday” because it created new life for Amy. Eight years later on her new birthday, Amy received the embryo, which was an awesome moment for all of us! Lucas is a miracle baby born out of true love.
After Lucas was born, he spent some time at the Brigham & Women’s Neonatal ICU. One of Amy’s nurses when she had leukemia had transferred to the NICU a few months earlier. Denise was surprised when one of her former patients requested her to be their son’s nurse. This story was featured on the Sunday Today Show with Willie Geist on Mother’s Day. It can be viewed on the Sunday Today website or YouTube (search for Amy Belli – New Mom Surprises Her Former Cancer Nurse with Baby Boy).
I am appreciative of everyone who was part of our journey. There are so many people to thank, including the doctors and nurses from Dana-Farber and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, family and friends. Thanks to the researchers and also the patients willing to be part of the clinical trials.
I walk for family and friends affected by cancer. My immediate family includes three cancer survivors; me, breast cancer, my husband Rick, prostate cancer, and Amy, leukemia. My mom Carolyn survived cancer but my brother Chuck and Rick's Aunt Joan did not. We have family and friends who are fighting cancer and others who lost the battle.