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AvatarPatti Rotella

Hi everyone,
My name is Patti. I live in Monroeville with my husband and my darling little Shih Tzu, Bella Mia. I was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in 2004. After many complications, including a punctured lung after several failed attempts on the part of a surgical resident to insert a central line, and three subsequent surgeries to repair the punctured lung, including an open lung biopsy surgery to figure out why my oxygen saturation was in the 70’s, then an almost two-month stint on a ventilator, including a tracheotomy surgery, I learned how to stand, then walk again, regain my finger dexterity, etc. due to the excellent care I received from both physical and occupational therapists during my 5 week in-patient rehab stay at Healthsouth.

Nine months later, in 2005, I had a matched unrelated donor bone marrow transplant at Cleveland Clinic. My husband and I lived in Cleveland for six months, as the treatment protocol required that I couldn’t be more than 1 hour away from the hospital. During those 6 months, I had 5 different in-patient stays – the first was a 30-day hospitalization to receive the intensive nine-day intravenous chemo regimen, and four other hospitalizations were due to a central line infection, then graft vs host disease of the esophagus and intestine, a fungus infection of both lungs, and a sepsis infection.

Once we returned to Pittsburgh, it was a long road to recovery. The transplant was successful; I had a good engraftment. However, I’m immunocompromised as a result and live somewhat isolated, especially since the advent of the pandemic. I also have other issues as a result of my treatment that I deal with on a continual basis. I am grateful for programs such as this; they not only provide a way to connect with others who know what it’s like to endure the trials of cancer and its potential complications, they also provide excellent tools and resources from which to thrive in spite of all that’s been endured.

Thank you to all who are choosing to accompany me on this Happy Feet Journey. I send my best wishes to each of you as we travel this road together.