Whether it's battling the rapids on a white water rafting trip or fighting for her life, Marcie Puckett is a survivor.
During a rafting trip in West Virginia in 1994, Puckett, then 30, broke her rib and collapsed a vertebrae. The ordeal changed her life forever.
"I didn't have any reason to suspect anything was wrong with me," she said. "I lived a healthy and active life, and I worked out every day."
But she had to undergo five weeks of medical testing in Northern Kentucky where she lived at the time, and doctors subsequently diagnosed her with a type of cancer called multiple myeloma. She began chemotherapy.
"For a 30-year-old white single female to be diagnosed with this type of cancer was virtually unheard of at that time," Puckett said.
At the time of her diagnosis, she was in the most advanced stage of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.
"This type of cancer begins when the plasma cells take over your stem cells and your bone marrow," she said. "Once those begin to be destroyed then that's when bone degeneration begins and the immune system starts to fail, which explains why my vertebrae began to deteriorate."
As an only child, Puckett couldn't easily get a bone marrow transplant.
"It was very unlikely I would find a match, and even if I did my body could reject it," she said. "Also, the prognosis wasn't good with unrelated bone marrow."
In 1994, there wasn't much research available on this type of cancer, so Puckett went to a multiple myeloma specialist in Little Rock, Ark., for further evaluation of treatment options. After discussion it was determined that a stem cell transplant would be Puckett's best option for saving her life.
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