August 6, 2014

The experience of having a loved one touched by a deadly illness is difficult, to say the least. But what must it be like to have two loved ones die at the hands of blood cancer? Three? Four? Most of us couldn’t imagine.

Nurse Donna Nicholson, cord blood coordinator at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital, endured that reality.

 “In 1990, I had a close cousin diagnosed with leukemia at age 4. It was the first major illness in a child that had hit our large and close family,” said Donna, who’s been a nurse for 34 years.

Then another family member was diagnosed. And another. And another. All four were diagnosed and passed away between 1992 and 2000.

“Two cousins, who were brothers, were diagnosed in their mid-teens; neither made it beyond 22," Donna said. "Then another cousin was diagnosed with leukemia at 27. She died the same year she was diagnosed. She didn’t get a (marrow) match in time.”