A Mother-Daughter Bond

Pictured: Kelly Miskell was a BMT donor for her mother, cancer survivor Marilyn Sittniewski.

Mother and Daughter Share a Unique Bond After a Life-Saving Procedure

Marilyn’s Story:

I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (AML) in August 2014. Two weeks later I found out that I would need a blood and marrow transplant (BMT).

Four out of five of my siblings were tested. My one sister was going to be the donor, but she became ill and passed away before we were able to do the transplant. Afterward, we tried to find another match, but I did not match with anyone on the BMT registry.

My youngest daughter Kelly was my only hope for a BMT match. I didn’t even have to ask her, she came forward and volunteered. It was so emotional when we found out she tested as a match and would be my donor. It took us a long time to talk about it without crying

Prior to the transplant, I went through several rounds of chemo and radiation to get my system ready to accept the BMT. I had my first transplant in May of 2015. Then I underwent another transplant in June 2016.

I really feel bonded with Kelly—as a part of her will always be growing inside of me. Who knew when I gave her life that she would give me back the gift one day. My daughter told me she always felt like she was going to end up being my donor—as everyone calls her a “mini Marilyn.”

I am in remission now. This will be my first summer in three years that I will not be in the hospital. This is a very special Mother’s Day.

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Kelly’s Story:

My mother originally had another donor—my aunt—but unfortunately, she passed away before she could become the donor. That's when I immediately volunteered to get tested in February 2015.

It felt great that I had this opportunity to be her BMT donor. I had my procedure in May 2015 and my bone marrow was transplanted immediately into my mother. My recovery lasted throughout the day and I went home from the hospital that evening. There wasn’t much pain in the process but I was sore for a bit afterward.

My mother and I always shared a special bond, and I had a feeling in my heart that I was going to be a match for her.

If I had another opportunity to be a BMT donor I would do it again to help save someone's life.

Editor’s Note: Cancer patient outcomes and experiences may vary, even for those with the same type of cancer. An individual patient’s story should not be used as a prediction of how another patient will respond to treatment. Roswell Park is transparent about the survival rates of our patients as compared to national standards, and provides this information, when available, within the cancer type sections of this website.