2018 Big Sister of the Year Battles Life-Threatening Cancer
Publisher’s Note: In May, we recognized Stephanie Rothbauer for her selection as the Big Sister of the Year for 2018. She was recognized for an outpouring of her mind, body and spirit upon others, and it is our honor to publish a call for help for Stephanie as she faces an internal battle of mind, body and spirit for her life.
By Tracey Earl
Here on the Central Coast we have many hero’s disguised as ordinary people and one that is special to me and many others is Stephanie Rothbauer. Her story is like other ordinary people dealt circumstances beyond their control —
circumstances in which you have the choice to fight or be defeated. Stephanie is a warrior and a Hero and being defeated is not in her vocabulary.
Stephanie, Our Warrior Queen, recently entered the ring for the fight of her life and she needs the an army of support to get through this. She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML. FLT3), and on May 17 she was sent to Stanford Medical Center after results from a local blood test came back with dangerous levels of white blood cells.
The tests were a result of Stephanie seeking medical attention after experiencing a recent series of issues that she had believed to be related to her Multiple Sclerosis. Severe, headaches, debilitating in nature, a terrible ulcer on her tongue that made it impossible for her to eat and she even blacked out at one point. It was then that she realized this was beyond the challenges that she already dealt with and considered part of her “normal” with MS.
Upon her arrival at Stanford they immediately began chemo treatment and told her that she had cancer. It took a couple of days and a very painful bone marrow biopsy to reveal exactly what form of leukemia she would be battling. Given the seriousness of Stephanie’s already highly-compromised immunity the treatment plan for her is very individualized and she is being taken care of with extra care and attention.
Tad, Stephanie’s husband, has only left her side to come home for their son’s promotion from the eighth grade. It was a heartwarming surprise that left few dry eyes as young TJ was surprised by his father’s appearance. Stephanie is currently undergoing her second four-week induction chemotherapy with hopes of putting the cancer into remission before a bone marrow transplant. When her marrow test come back clean of the cancer cells she will undergo stem cell therapy, with a 100-day stay in Palo Alto for 24-hour care and treatment.
The previous induction chemotherapy brought her close to the edge multiple times, but her body fought back against insurmountable odds — well enough for her to get a one-week break at home at the end of June before beginning this second round. As of mid-July, we are waiting for results of her most recent biopsy to determine whether or not her numbers are within the parameters of remission. If they are, and the stem cell donor is found, she can begin the process of rebuilding her immune system. There is a chance that not only would she be cancer free, but that her MS would be eliminated as well — truly, a second chance at life.
We recently found out that her siblings are not matches for stem cell, and they are currently searching the national database for a match.
Are you between the ages 18-44* and want to help Stephanie? Join Be The Match’s National Marrow Registry. Bone Marrow and Stem Cells have the ability to cure life threatening diseases. Joining the registry is easy.
You can go to join.bethematch.org/SRothbauer for a free swab kit to complete at home. The process is similar to blood donations, and donors say it is pain free and easy — a couple hours of their time for the rest of a patient’s life. If you have any questions or would like to host a Be The Match drive at your place of worship, work, school, or community center, please reach out to Claire Bendig, firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at bethematch.org.
To know Steph is too love her. Her vibrancy and genuine love of life is present in everything she does, even during these difficult times.
What would cripple many only displayed her strengths more. Her passion is displayed in everything she is a part of, and a supporter of the national and local MS Foundation. She’s also a well-recognized interior designer.
She was recently honored as Big Sister of the Year for 2018, because of her commitment to her Little Sister, which she plans to see through the young lady’s time in school and beyond.
Steph’s family is her biggest passion and her focus is and always has been to ensure that TJ (14), Brayden (12), and Mia (8) are happy, loved and know their place in her heart.
Our number one priority is securing a donor so Stephanie can be home and cancer free and return to be a mother, wife and friend to so many.
Signing up to be a donor is such a worthy cause that will help someone to live a better life, whether it is Stephanie’s or someone like her fighting for their chance to be a part of the everyday little things so many of us take for granted.