The original MTNMAMA

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dr. Kristina Lee Smith Graduates

Blogger's Quilt Festival

May 18th, started the Blogger's Quilt Festival over on Amy's Creative Side Website.  The quilts are phenomenal and each comes with the most amazing story.  Being somewhat new to this whole "Blogging" thing I stumbled upon this Festival earlier this week by accident.  I spent several days deciding what quilt I would use for my entry.  The choice became very clear as I looked through pictures of my recent past projects.   It isn't a big fact it is a small "Table Topper" or "Mini Quilt" that I named "Star of Hope".  It isn't anything fancy but the story is what makes the quilt so special.
Last August we were told that after years of treatment for Non-Hodgkins lymphoma my husband had developed Myelodysplastic (MDS) Syndrome of his bone marrow.  Basically his bone marrow was dying and he need a Bone Marrow Transplant.  This would be his second transplant.  In Jan 2010 he had had an auto-transplant from cells we had harvested years before after a round of chemo.  These cells only lasted 18 months and now we were face with getting a non-related donor transplant.  The most risky transplant of all.  We were sent to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas TX where a donor was found in the Bone Marrow Registry.  We started the procedure Dec 1, 2011.  I packed everything I could including my sewing machine and a big bag of Christmas scraps.  Each night I would leave the hospital and go back to my hotel room and have an hour or two to sew before I fell exhausted into bed.  I put together "scrap" projects which in reality are my favorite.  Nothing too complicated because my brain wouldn't take it and I had my "portable" machine which is not the best to free motion quilt with.  During his hospital stay we became friends with the patient across the hall.  She was 22 years old and on her second transplant for a very aggresive form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Her mother is a nurse and me being a Physician's Assistant we bonded immediately.  We shared tips on how to make our loved ones feel better..lotions to use on their skin, balms for their lips, ice packs for the burning hands and was a match I truly believe was made in heaven.  After discharge we all went daily to the clinic for fluids, antibiotics, blood, platelets...anything they needed to stay alive until the marrow grew and "engrafted" enough to support the patient. My friend and her daughter lived in Dallas but we stayed in housing that was close to the hospital.  There I continued to sew and use up my bag of scaps.   In January I gifted this to my friend and made one just like it for me.  I named the quilt "Star of Hope" and I hoped would comfort her during the long days and nights of taking care of her daughter through this dark valley.

She took the "mini quilt" and put it on the back of her favorite chair where she would sit for a bit of rest, sip her tea, think of me. and recharge for all the demands that lay ahead of her that day.  Jeff did "well" for a transplant patient and we were allowed to return home to Tulsa the end of Jan.  My friends daughter continued to struggle with "Graft Versus Host" which consumed both of them.  She was seen daily in the clinic for weeks which is so tiring for both patient and caregiver.  My friend and I would text and call and stayed in touch weekly.  Jeff and I would go to Dallas once a week for the first two months, then every other week for a while.  We would meet up with our friends at the clinic or for coffee and breakfast.  Her daughter slowly was getting better and it was so encouraging to see.  We prayed for each other and cried for each other and the ones we loved as they went through all the trails associated with the transplant. 
At 100 days which is a mile marker for transplant patients Jeff's marrow was 100% engrafted.  My friends daughter also had good news with signs of baby donor cells being produced in her marrow.
Jeff's counts started to fall shortly after his 3 month bone marrow biopsy but we weren't too worried yet.
By mid April all of Jeff's counts were down across the board so we did another bone marrow biopsy which showed that the MDS was back.  His donor graft was down to 70% and MDS 30%.  He deteriorated quickly and now his marrow has failed completely.  We have remained in Tulsa for treatment because he is too weak to get to Dallas and we are very comfortable with our oncologist here.  We have been hospitalized recently for 8 days and now we go daily to the clinic and hospital for blood and platelet support.  It has been determined that he has a drug resistant clone.  So no more high dose chemo for him.  We did started a new drug that he will get for 5 consecutive days and be off three weeks then repeat. It is used to suppress the MDS.   If it works he will do it forever or until we decide if he can undergo another form of a transplant.  My friend has supported me with calls, hugs, and texts.  Just knowing we are traveling along this journey together is comforting.  She loves her small quilt and together we share HOPE.   STAR OF HOPE  is just a  small quilt that helps us face each day with renewed spirit and strength.

Dr. Kristina Lee Smith, D.O. 

Last night we celebrated the graduation of our youngest daughter from Medical School
God truly blessed us abundantly.  Jeff, who had been very sick earlier in the week, was able with the help of our Son-in-Law to be pushed on the stage in a wheelchair and "HOOD" her.
What a blessing and an answer to MANY prayers!!  We thank you Lord for your faithfulness to us!!
It was quite an emotional moment when Jon, (left), Kristina, (center) and Jeff (right) took the stage and performed the hooding.
Proud mama and Dr. Kristina Smith
Grammy and Pop came all the way from West Virginia to see the event and congratulate the new doctor.
Dr Elizabeth Shaw and Dr. Kristina friends!!
We are having a wonderful weekend with family and friends.  We have been blessed with lots of food.  God is so Good!!!  Even though we celebrate the dawning of a new physician in the house let us never forget that The Great Physician, our heavenly Father, loves and cares for us and is always providing a way for us if only we allow Him to work in each of us!!!

Happy Trails,

Mtn Mama



  1. It's a lovely quilt and a touching story - thank you for sharing. I'll add your husband and your friend's family to my prayers.

  2. touching story!

    Check out my blog if you can...

    Margaret Gunn

  3. Great story. My sister just completed 6 rounds of chemo for non-hodgkins lymphoma. We are on pins and needles waiting to hear if the chemo worked. She has a pet scan the end of May. You have given me hope that if the chemo doesn't work, there are other options for her.

    1. HOPE is the greatest gift of all and cancer can't take that away!!! I will put your sister on my prayer list. Keep HOPING and praying!! In the 13 years we have fought this disease there have been many new options along the way!! Thanks for sharing!!
      Together we fight and pray!!

  4. Thank you for sharing the quilt, the story, your inspirational faith and your journey . May God bless you all! I so understand how sewing is a "MUST", as it is my therapy too, in the midst of ministry to loved ones who struggle for health when battling illness. Hope is a gift for sure.


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