Hope for the Holidays – Angelique Walker
Author: Alisha Walker, Angelique’s Mother
Our daughter, Angelique, was born with Sickle Cell Disease. After she turned three, we decided to pursue a bone marrow transplant for her. We wanted her life to be as normal as possible including being able to start school on time, which meant beginning her transplant during last year’s holiday season. We are a close family and we always celebrate the holidays together — being separated during Christmas was heart wrenching.
Angelique’s bone marrow transplant occurred in mid-December, which meant we had to be in the hospital over a week before the transplant began to prepare her body. She had to remain in the hospital for seven weeks while her body worked to accept the new marrow. Because her immune system was compromised our daughters were not allowed to visit the hospital. Even worse? The girls were separated on Christmas Day. Angelique was sad because she could not be with her sisters and do our annual traditions of making cookies and doing crafts to prepare for Santa. This was a trying time for us. Angelique became very sick from the chemotherapy and multiple medications. She began to lose her hair in large clumps. So many things were happening during the holidays last year, and our family worked hard to remain strong.
With my husband going back and forth to the hospital and spending so much time in transit, we needed a lot of support and assistance. We are a very proud and private family so it took a lot for us to accept help. It was truly overwhelming to have so many people step up to help and to realize that many people loved us and were rooting for our daughter.
During our time of need, #teamAngelique worked closely with COTA to organize events that raised funds in honor of Angelique and rally volunteers who prepared meals for our family and provided relief for us. COTA was truly a blessing. Angelique saw so many specialists and was taking at least eight medications daily at one point. We were by her side every step of the way. This meant one parent could not work and the other had to shoulder the financial burden for the whole family. However, working so closely with COTA and with our amazing team of volunteers, we remained hopeful.
Angelique is one year post transplant and is doing so well. She is in school and was the November student of the month. She is thriving and making new friends. She is the sweetest little girl and just celebrated her Big 5th Birthday. We could not be more proud of her progress.
This Christmas will be extra special because we get to celebrate the gift of life that Angelique’s sister, Allana, was able to give her as the bone marrow donor. Because of Allana’s gift, Angelique is now Sickle Cell free and is producing 100% donor blood! This is the best Christmas gift we could have ever imagined.
Since 1986, we have helped thousands of transplant families, like the Walkers, whose child or young adult needed a life-saving organ, bone marrow or stem cell transplant. COTA offers assistance to these families at no cost. This can only happen thanks to the kindness and generosity of volunteers and supporters, like you, who are giving our families HOPE for the holidays.