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Inspirational Stories


acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)

December 3, 2016, was the date that I was supposed to get married to KT. It was a Saturday. We had that date set for over a year, but there was no wedding—we canceled it the Tuesday before. KT informed most of our guests with an explanatory text: “So, I have some unfortunate news. We’re going to have to call off the wedding this weekend. Dust got cold feet…and leukemia.”

I was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). This disease was a mutation caused by the mutual translocation of chromosomes 15 and 17, resulting in a fusion gene called PML/RARA—look, I don’t know what that means either. I’m not a doctor. (I recently told an aunt and uncle that the doctors gave me a bone marrow biopsy by drilling into my cervix. It was nice to see them laugh that hard.) What I do know is that it is difficult to know the difference between a tragedy and a blessing when a trauma occurs. KT and I spent 33 days in our initial stay in the hospital. I’m glad we never wasted our time with premarital counseling. Premarital cancer answers all the questions a couple could have.

Even ten years ago, APL was a devastating disease, but because of the kindness of others in funding cancer research through organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, well, my doctors tell me that I got "the good cancer." KT and I have reevaluated our entire budget, and we've dedicated ourselves to giving back to cancer research. It is a thank you to all those people we didn't know who gave me money years ago and helped save my life. We'll most likely never meet, and wouldn't know it if we did, but I can't think of a better way to spend that money, hoping for a better future.

KT and I were married on May 7, 2017. When we sent out our "Save The Date, Again" letters, I wrote this: You pick a wedding date and it gets stuck in your head as this monumental day in your life. My groomsmen's gifts have 12-3-16 engraved on them (sorry fellas, but that's not getting corrected). Now that date is different, and we couldn't be happier. 'Come what may' means 'no matter what happens.' And come May 7, the joy of marriage is going to mean so much to us. Getting through a little bit of the worst together means appreciating the better even more.

Dustin acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)