Meet a Family of Fighters
Josephine & her family

Josephine Fong was in love and after meeting the man of her life, plans were in place for the perfect wedding and honeymoon – everything that a young woman dreams about – until a small lump in her leg was diagnosed on the day of her wedding as a soft tissue carcoma.

 

“We were absolutely shell-shocked but it was too late to cancel anything so we just went on with the wedding and didn’t tell anyone about it”, she admitted. “We even wanted to go on our honeymoon but my doctor said that I had to go into the hospital to have the lump removed followed by 6 weeks of radiation therapy.

 

Meeting Josephine it would be hard to believe that this optimistic and joyous woman had to deal with something like this – but more was to follow. Three years later, with a clean bill of health from her doctor, Josephine had a baby boy but celebrations again had to be put on hold because he was born with a hole in the heart. Just 12 days later, they operated and life for the family focused on this very special baby boy and for the next few years they tried to live as normally as possible and put the nightmare of the past behind them. Again, this wasn’t meant to be.

A transplant can mean a cure and I know that all these trials along the way have only made me a stronger person and every day I am really thankful to be alive.

- Josephine
FINDING A DONOR

In August 2012, Josephine was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and from the outset the medical teams knew that her only chance was to have a bone marrow transplant. When her only brother wasn’t a match, Josephine’s doctors turned to the BMDP to find a donor and all the while, keeping her alive with several rounds of chemotherapy to try and control the leukaemia.

 

“It was a very tough time”, she admits, “and celebrations all seemed to be spent in hospital but most of all, it felt as if I was losing precious time with my boy and the pressure was mounting for my husband who had been an amazing support all this time. Then about five months later my doctor told me that three possible donors had been found in Taiwan, but unfortunately not one of them was a perfect match but only a 7/8. They explained that this could mean a lower chance of survival and possible long term side effects of the mismatch in the future – but after talking it through at home, we decided to go ahead and so my transplant was scheduled for April 2011.

 

I don’t have so many recollections about that time but for my husband it was every man’s worse nightmare. I was in and out of chemotherapy and during this same time, it was critical for our son to have another heart operation. He had to run from one hospital to the other and you can imagine he was terrified that he may lose not one of us, but all his family seemed to be fighting for their lives.

 

My mother-in-law was an angel and she held us all together in the way that only Mums can do – she cooked and cleaned for us and when my husband had to work, she looked after our boy. Looking back it was a tunnel of darkness and sometimes when I felt really down from all the drugs and endless treatments, it was the thought of the two men in my life that kept me going.

MEETING HER DONOR

A transplant can mean a cure and I know that all these trials along the way have only made me a stronger person and every day I am really thankful to be alive – and also that my son is able to do and enjoy most things that boys his age can enjoy.

 

I owe my life to a stranger whose name I didn’t know until just a few weeks ago – when I got to meet him in Taiwan. If there is a message in my story, then it’s to all the healthy people out there who could sign up as bone marrow donors and through their action, other patients like me will have a second chance and watch their young son or daughter grow up.”

MEETING HER DONOR

A transplant can mean a cure and I know that all these trials along the way have only made me a stronger person and every day I am really thankful to be alive – and also that my son is able to do and enjoy most things that boys his age can enjoy.

 

I owe my life to a stranger whose name I didn’t know until just a few weeks ago – when I got to meet him in Taiwan. If there is a message in my story, then it’s to all the healthy people out there who could sign up as bone marrow donors and through their action, other patients like me will have a second chance and watch their young son or daughter grow up.”

PUBLISHED ON 23 October 2017
CHOOSE TO GIVE LIFE TODAY
Registering to become a bone marrow donor means committing to be there when you get the call to give life. Each registrant provides hope for those waiting. A person could, however, be a match within a few months of registering, a year later or even seven years later.
How to register?