By ASHLEY CHAFFIN
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Friends and family of University of Alabama student Ashley Roberts are hoping to help her get through an upcoming bone marrow transplant by raising money to cover costs associated with the procedure.
Cathy Carpenter, Roberts' mother, said her daughter was diagnosed in 1997 with severe aplastic anemia, a disorder in which the bone marrow does not produce enough new blood cells.
"This is 16 years that she's been fighting for every single day, and my friends and family have been there for 16 years now ... She's gone through every single clinical trial that there is," Carpenter said.
Now, her supporters are hosting a fundraising drive by selling decorative mailbox bows with Alabama or Christmas themes. Carpenter said that with November being bone marrow awareness month, they'll probably sell green ribbons. They are also hosting a gun raffle and have accounts set up for cash donations at Regions Bank and First United Security Bank.
Since the initial diagnosis, Roberts has been through many setbacks due to her illness. In 2009, she developed a severe liver lesion that eventually ruptured. She spent the next month in an intensive care unit and another two in the hospital.
Despite the difficulties, Carpenter said her daughter has found a way to live every day to the fullest. She graduated from high school in 2000 and earned her associate's degree from Faulkner Community College.
She also earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Alabama and is working on a master's in rehabilitation counseling.
"She's always just saying, 'Don't worry, God's not going to let anything happen to me,' " Carpenter said. "There are probably people that she works with and goes to class with that have no idea she's even sick."
Earlier this year, the family learned she would need the bone marrow transplant. During a new experimental treatment, doctors found unusual cells and later discovered that her blood cells were producing pre-leukemic cells; further, her aplastic anemia had progressed in Myelodysplastic Syndrome, which is a type of cancer.
"Ashley, fortunately, has been able to live pretty much a normal life until all of this happened recently," Carpenter said.
Mother and daughter visited doctors in Houston last week thanks to Pilots for Christ. Doctors there have three possible donors.
"They're going to go through those three people, and if they are not a perfect match or close enough, then they are going to go with my bone marrow and do a half match," Carpenter said. "They said they've had success with that."
The family will go to Houston sometime in November to begin the process for the transplant. They'll need to stay in Houston a minimum of 120 days depending on how she does with the treatment. If the transplant is successful, it will be the cure the family has been trying to find for 16 years.
"I know the donations will mean a lot, but we really need more prayers because it's going to take a miracle for her, with everything she's been through, to survive this," Carpenter said.
Information from: The Tuscaloosa News,Tags: