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Our Hero: Gwen

BY Kadesha Washington
Four years ago, Gwen was a typical, bubbly thirteen-year-old who loved school and being with her friends. That all changed when she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder that occurs when blood cells in the bone marrow are damaged or abnormal.

“My diagnosis isolated me from my peers since I could not attend school or hang out with friends,” said Gwen. “It disrupted how my family and I lived our daily lives and separated us during the holidays.”

Gwen during treatment at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

But in 2018, Gwen received a life-saving bone marrow transplant at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. Hope & Heroes was there every step of the way, helping her receive the best possible treatment to ensure the best outcome. “Hope & Heroes made sure my family and I were knowledgeable during each phase of my treatment,” she stated.

Gwen remembered how easy it was to get overwhelmed with so much important yet scary information during her cancer journey. For kids facing a similar situation, “take it one day at a time,” she noted. “Try to do something you enjoy every day.”

Almost four years after treatment, Gwen is now 17 and in the 12th grade. She continues to thrive and is forever grateful for everything Hope & Heroes does. “In April this year, I had the opportunity to meet my bone marrow donor,” recalled Gwen. “Without the support of Hope & Heroes, my doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners, I would not have had this amazing opportunity!”

Gwen meeting her bone marrow donor.

Gwen (center) and her donor, Haven, (second from right) at the Be The Match Gala in New York.

Hope & Heroes recently held its 12th Annual Walk for childhood cancer. As the captain of Team Gwen, Gwen enjoys coming to this event and seeing teams and volunteers unite to support patients and Hope & Heroes. “I always want to be a part of an organization that does so much good work.”

September is National Blood Cancer Month, and it’s the perfect time to join Hope & Heroes in raising awareness and support to help local children and families. Fundraising for the annual walk continues throughout the month. Consider donating to Team Gwen or any of our amazing Walk Teams. You can also contribute directly to Hope & Heroes.
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