By Joel Hillan
PARKER, Colo. (CBS4) – The UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital held a bone marrow transplant reunion this morning at CU South in Parker. It was an opportunity for survivors and their doctors and nurses to celebrate the gift of life.
Among those in attendance was Toni Baltizar.
In 2010, Toni had surgery to remove a 10 pound tumor that turned out to be cancerous. She would need additional surgeries and to undergo chemotherapy treatments, but, fortunately, her cancer would go into remission.
Then, three years later routine blood work would reveal Toni had Leukemia.
“The doctor called and said, ‘We need you to check in tonight for 30 days,’ and I was like ‘What?! I can’t check in for 30 days, I have two kids, I’m a single mom, I can’t do that!’”
The hospital stay ended up being much longer. Two courses of chemo failed, but a trial drug worked and Toni finally got a bone marrow transplant.
Within months, that transplant failed and Toni was told she would need a second transplant.
“He said, ‘We could do a second transplant, but we think it’s going to kill you, or you could live the last few months out with quality.'”
“She was absolutely devastated,” said Toni’s mother, Tammy Rheinheimer
“She told the girls that ‘We cry tonight, and tomorrow we fight’ and she did it, three times. I mean she’s really amazing,” Rheinheimer said.
Now three years later, the second bone marrow transplant has proven successful.
“So far, so good,” said Toni. “I’m still in remission from leukemia.”
Toni says she is grateful to the doctors and nurses who became like family to her and hopes her desire to fight inspires others.
“Just keep going. Don’t give up. I could have given up before my second transplant and thank goodness I didn’t. I kept going and kept fighting even though I didn’t want to at times and look where I am now.”