When her doctor sat Nikki Thompson down and told her she had myelodysplastic syndrome, the diagnosis was equal parts relief and fear. Relief, because it finally solved a months-long mystery that began with the unexplained “tiredness and fatigue” Nikki felt while pregnant with her second child. And fear, because what her doctor, Mrinal Patnaik, M.B.B.S., a Mayo Clinic hematologist, told her was both honest and direct. “Because of the chromosomal damage I had in addition to myelodysplastic syndrome, he recommended a bone marrow transplant,” Nikki tells us. “He said it would eventually turn into leukemia if I didn’t have the transplant.”
There was much more Dr. Patnaik would need to tell Nikki, and she says he did so “in simple terms I could understand” while still holding true to the seriousness of what lay ahead. Knowing that Nikki and her husband, Nik, have two small children, Dr. Patnaik laid out alternative treatment options for Nikki to consider. “If I did nothing, he said I’d have approximately 5 to 7 years to live,” she recalls. “If I went on medication, he said I’d have 10 to 12 years. Or if we did the transplant, he said that was my shot at a cure.”
For Nikki, the last option was the only option. “After hearing all of that — having my two kids, and also for my husband — I knew I had to move forward with the transplant,” she says. Fortunately Nikki’s bone marrow transplant at Mayo’s Rochester campus couldn’t have gone better. “I could not have been cared for by a better team,” she says. “Things could have gone very differently, but because of them I’m here today and doing well.”
In addition to her health, Nikki has one more takeaway from her time at Mayo, thanks to her husband, Nik. “He took pictures of everything throughout the whole process,” Nikki says. “Even when I didn’t want him to take pictures.”
She would eventually learn why. “He collected all of the pictures and then put them to the words of a book our kids have, called ‘and then it’s spring,’” Nikki says. “He told me he’d found some parallels in the book in regard to our transplant experience so he decided to take the book and flip it to reflect our story.”
The result was an unexpected keepsake and a heart-warming video of Nik reading the book to their kids while images of their family and Nikki’s transplant experience flash across the screen. “We’ve still never said the word ‘cancer’ to our kids,” she says. “But as they get older, we hope Nik’s video will help them better understand what happened to Mom." And just as importantly, "what we’ve lived through as a family, thanks to Mayo Clinic.”
Watch the video:
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