If life is a motorway, Luba Banuke paid tribute to her most latest milestone by going sky to sea, celebrating her 70th birthday Monday with a hike atop Whistler Mountain and then following up later with a dip within the ocean at Port Moody to cool down.
We ought to all be so lively coming into our eighth decade however what makes Banuke’s story terrific is 12 years ago she turned into advised she had terminal blood most cancers, the rare T-cellular lymphoma, and best more than one years to stay.
She has Steve, a pilot within the United States Air Force, to thank. It became he who had the matching HLA (human leukocyte antigen) and whose donated stem cells saved Banuke’s life.
Today she is most cancers-loose, searching forward to a impending journey to the Balkans, and celebrating the tenth anniversary of her transplant with Steve, who arrived in Vancouver on Thursday along with his spouse.
“It turned into truely, clearly tough to digest and I become now not accepting that this was going on to me,” Banuke said of that day she became recognized in 2007.
But whilst her spleen abruptly swelled to 4 times its regular length, pushing against all forms of nerves and causing unbearable ache, she surrendered to treatment, which supposed three units of chemo, six months at a time, followed by more than one months of relaxation.
A one-time faculty predominant at Sperling Elementary in Burnaby and longtime training professor at SFU after which UBC, she kept operating through the treatments and capsules. And continued helping her daughter Maria together with her kids even as Maria become at work.
“It gave me that, not hope, but oomph, this desire to hold,” she said.
It was after her 1/3 round of chemo, while she become coaching a path in Parksville that she got a name immediately from VGH’s hematology department about getting a bone-marrow transplant.
It become July, 2009.
“I couldn’t even answer them, it turned into this type of shock,” she stated. “I became in tears, I turned into broken.”
Not simplest hadn’t she been knowledgeable this became an choice till that name, she changed into advised that the window turned into remaining on a transplant being viable and that in preference to a diagnosis of having a couple extra years to stay with chemo, there was best a 10-in line with-cent danger she’d survive the transplant surgical operation due to the fact her immune device could be basically decreased to 0.
Her daughter helped convince her to offer it a cross, that a one-in-10 shot at life changed into higher than two years of pain and deterioration. It changed into September, 2009, and Steve spent 5 days inside the donor technique as his stem cells were collected and flown to Vancouver.
“Steve became in Delaware at that time and I turned into in VGH,” Banuke stated. “It become nighttime and I heard the helicopter land on the roof and within mins …”
There is a ready duration of three years earlier than a recipient can are seeking out their a donor and spot if they comply with be contacted. Banuke got Steve’s e mail cope with, the handiest element to that point she knew about him.
They began speaking, he came to be nearly like family to Banuke and her daughter. They invited him to Maria’s son’s bar mitzvah in 2013. He changed into honoured to simply accept.
“We picked Steve up on the airport and it was the maximum emotional reunion you can imagine,” Maria said. “How do you thank any individual for saving your life?
“It simply felt just like the minute he walked into our lives, physically at that moment, we simply felt like he become part of our own family.”
Steve, who asked his surname no longer be used due to the character of his paintings, would pass directly to set up another trip to ski and go to Banuke in Vancouver; he joined her, her sister, her daughter and her grandsons in Nairobi on every other occasion; Banuke flew to Miami to visit him.
“I turned into a bit apprehensive whilst Luba reached out, but excited to recognise the recipient had lived, due to the fact that’s no longer constantly the case,” Steve said.
“It’s an emotional funding to go through as a donor. You want that character to live and be healthy. When I heard from Luba I stated, ‘Holy smokes! She’s alive, it worked!’”
Steve’s spouse has now not been to Vancouver before. Banuke is excited about reuniting, about displaying the couple around. Steve concurs Banuke’s family appears like his prolonged own family.
Males make more successful donors than girls and the finest age of a donor is among 17 and 35. Banuke would like to take the opportunity of this anniversary to elevate recognition and urges humans to check in with Canadian Blood Services to emerge as a stem mobile donor. It’s part of a worldwide registry network.
“It’s tough to think returned 10 years ago to that timeline,” Maria said. “My mother wasn’t given any alternatives apart from chemo.
“But she is excellent cussed and, amazingly, she’s cancer-loose, she’s in amazing fitness now.
“On Monday she was on pinnacle of Whistler trekking, she became a trooper, she saved up. Then she jumped into the ocean as soon as we were again.