16 years

16 years.

5844 Days.

Two homes. Four dogs. Eight schools. Seven graduations. Many jobs. Trips to Ireland, Cape Cod, Vermont, Charm City, Disney, Massachusetts, Yankee Stadium, Italy, Maine, Block Island, Puerto Rico, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado. We’ve been skiing/tubing, kayaking, surfing, swimming, sailing, and hiking. Many tears. More laughter.

16 years ago Jack had the transplant that saved his life, but before it did it’s magic ALD stole a lot from Jack. It stole a lot from our family. 

For 16 years we’ve done our best to grab back what we could – to live big, bold, bright lives. I think we’ve done a darn good job.

Happy 16th Transplant birthday JackO! Thank you for your guidance and strength for all these years.

And to ALD – F*CK you!!!

Love, Jess

Full Circle

Yesterday was the anniversary of receiving Jack’s ALD diagnosis. 16 years since we heard the word Adrenoleukodystrophy for the first time. We were in a small room behind the nurse’s station on the 6th floor of Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia. The room was filled with people as Dan and I sat on a small sofa trying to take in the news that Jack’s symptoms were a result of Adrenoleukodystrophy. That Jack may die. That he needed a horrible treatment if we wanted any hope of saving him. That our lives had changed forever.

Later that day, I was taking a walk to clear my head and I saw a sign — AMAZING THINGS ARE HAPPENING HERE.  All I could think was – there better F$%^ING be!

AMAZING THINGS ARE HAPPENING HERE is an ad campaign that continues at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia. Every time I see it, I take a breath and nod my head. Amazing things are happening behind their walls. Lives are being saved, new treatments are being used, and doctors are being trained.

We learned that NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia was a teaching hospital when a month into our stay there, a pile of young faces marched into our room to meet Jack. We’d been asked if it was okay for a few medical students to stop by with their instructor. They wanted to learn more about ALD. We agreed and, later that day during my nightly call with Anna, I shared how cool it was to watch soon-to-be-doctors learn about our disease.

Anna soaked in the story. She was already thinking that being a doctor was in her future.

For 16 years, Anna’s determination to be a doctor has been incredible to witness. Her brain allowed her to excel in many subjects, but she chose to focus on the sciences. She could have gone to any college, but she chose Johns Hopkins University knowing it was the top pre-med program. She could have made some extra money working as a server or a bartender, but she instead spent countless hours working for extraordinary doctors and researchers. She studied hard, graduated in just six semesters, and nailed the MCAT exam with a top score. Although she reminded us often that there was no guarantee (even with her great resume) that she would be admitted to any medical school, she got offers at many top schools.

The last offer she received was the offer she had been dreaming of since 2007.

Anna will be attending Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons!

Our family has always tried to focus less on her accomplishments and more on who Anna is in her core — a beautiful human who is kind and empathetic and knows how to get us all laughing when we need it — but today we want to focus on this incredible accomplishment!

Anna — We are so proud of who you are as a human and all the beauty add to the world. AND we are super proud of your determination and hard work and brilliant mind. YOU are going to do amazing things!

AMAZING THINGS are indeed HAPPENING!!!!!!

Love, Jess