A Miraculous Survival of Leukemia
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“Coming from a background, a broken home, a fatherless home, and we were poor. There were six kids. We had nothing. So my whole idea was, ‘If I’m successful and I have finances then people won’t look at me as a poor orphan. They will see my success.’”
Vera Kirkpatrick made a name for herself selling art. By her mid twenties, she was the successful woman she always dreamed of becoming. “I wanted to create my own rules, my own world.”
Vera met John Kirkpatrick and they married. John’s faith in God was strong – and he tried to share it with his wife. Vera tells how she viewed John. “I found someone who was into me, that loved me - that do anything for me.”
Vera and John moved to Hawaii and invested in two art galleries. Together they became even more successful. But Vera felt the emptiness that had haunted her childhood. She decided John was the problem. She says, “John ended up putting me on a pedestal, and that was good for a while but then I got tired of that.”
John couldn’t understand why Vera didn’t appreciate his attention. “I thought she was wrong. I knew she needed me and what I could provide was valuable.”
Vera saw it as control. “I didn’t want to be molded and shaped. I’m the powerful person, not we but me.”
The years passed. The marriage suffered. Even as they raised three children, Vera thought about leaving John. But by the summer of 2009, Vera would need John more than ever. Her routine physical revealed troubling news. Vera’s doctor said, ‘You haven’t been here in six years, I’m going to do a routine blood test.’”
Vera was never sick and worked out twice a day. She says the results of her blood work were like a punch in the stomach. The doctor told her, ‘I’ve got some bad news.’ I said, ‘What’s the bad news?’ Her doctor said, ‘I think you have Leukemia.’ Vera had questions, ‘…and I’m like, what’s Leukemia?’ I’m thinking for a minute, then I said, ‘Wait, is that a cancer?’ His answer was, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘What’s worse, I think you have about two weeks to live.’”
She wanted a second opinion. So oncologist Anthony DeSalvo was called in. He confirmed the results. He explains, “Acute Leukemia, in the absence of urgent treatment, is rapidly fatal. It is typically within weeks without treatment you will die.”
Vera needed more than success now. She needed God. She had attended church all her life but didn’t know if God would listen. “I’m telling you at that moment, everything just fell from me. It was like the bags, the clothes, the matching purse and shoes - none of that mattered. (I’m asking), ‘Okay God, wait a minute. I’m at a crossroads here. Are You real?’ ‘Can I call on You?’ ‘Are You able?’ ‘All these stories and all these things; was that for real my whole life?’ ‘Are You mad at me?’ ‘Will You even listen to me now?’ ‘I’ve been doing everything on my own terms.’”
“The first thing I did was to reach out for a life saver, and that was God. I went back to my roots, because I wasn’t going to save myself. And you can put your trust in medicine but the ultimate healing is going to have to be God.”
Within two days, family was called in to take care of the children. Vera and John flew to Seattle where they met Dr. John Pagel at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. His assessment of Vera’s diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia or AML, wasn’t promising. “(It was) Not just garden variety AML, one of the worse kinds of AML you can have; really high risk. So we treated her with a novel regimen of chemotherapies; something we’d rarely tried ever in other patients. And we really weren’t sure it would work, but we did feel it was important for her given the high risk nature of her disease.”
Before the treatments began, John believed God gave them a promise. He says, “When the doctors come in they have to tell you all the worse case scenarios, and it was like whatever they said, it doesn’t matter because if God said she’s going to live, she’s going to live.”
Scriptures brought comfort to Vera. “The scripture, Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, not to hurt you or to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future.’ I took that literally.”
For months, Vera suffered through agonizing chemotherapy treatments. John stayed by her side and believed God for her healing. Their children flew to Seattle to visit spend time with her. But the days grew darker and darker. John explains, “I was overwhelmed. And in my pocket - I don’t know if I heard something or whatever - I just reached into my pocket got my phone out and they are like, ‘This is the CBN prayer line.’”
John and Vera relied on the CBN prayer center for support, but for a staff member to call them and know their need just amazed John. “I’m like, ‘Wow God. You knew at the exact moment!’”
They rejoiced when Vera went into remission. But her battle for life was far from over. Dr, Pagel explains, “I think the odds of long term success were close to zero without the stem cell transplant for sure.”
But Vera’s blood contained a rare antigen that was difficult to match. The search for a donor went worldwide. Days passed, and Vera waited. “The whole time you think, ‘If I can get through this, if I can get through this and get the transplant I’m going to live.’ So you just go into survival mode.”
Finally a donor was found. Dr. Pagel says, “We had to use an alternative donor that wasn’t completely matched and that was also very high risk and more challenging.”
The same month Vera was diagnosed with leukemia, a man named Dimetri was volunteering a saliva sample at the blood bank in Tel Aviv. Twenty-one days after the transplant, Vera left the cancer center to be monitored off campus.
Dr. Pagel adds, “I personally believe that God had His wonderful hands all over Vera. No question about it. You could see it every single day when you saw her.”
After seven months, Vera finally returned home to Hawaii. Dr. Anthony DeSalvo took over her care. “It’s amazing. I’ve sent quite a few people for transplants, God knows how many over the years; I’ve never seen anything like Vera. I’ve never seen anybody recover so quickly and so profoundly.”
John and Vera say the promise God gave them came to pass. John explains, “I think the message to me was if God gives you a promise, trust in that promise because it will come to pass. No matter what the circumstances say, trust in what God has spoken to you.”
Vera concludes, “It’s a beautiful love affair with God and I now. And He mended my broken heart. He fixed my marriage and brings peace and joy to my home, to my stores, my galleries, and He’s radically changed the children’s hearts through God. And even my little nine-year-old (says), ‘Jesus healed my mommy’s blood.’ And He did. This journey continues. It’s all upward and onward. I don’t know what God has in store. But I’m pretty sure it’s a good thing, pretty sure it’s a good thing.”
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