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Chris Brinton is a planner. A Certified Financial PlannerÂ© , in fact, who blazed a trail in the male-dominated financial management industry over the course of a stellar 23-year career at Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley). But she had no way of anticipating her own life-altering cancer diagnosis.
After feeling unwell for about a week, she went to her family doctor in Poulsbo, Wash. The results of a blood test there sent her straight to Seattle where, on her 60th birthday, an oncologist told her she had leukemia â and just two days to live.
Despite the shocking news, Chris, who describes herself as "a tough old gal," persevered. With the support of her family, doctors and 39 blood transfusions, she survived five months of aggressive chemotherapy. Still, when she met with experts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center two months into chemo, they said that without a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant, her chances of surviving another two years were just 5 percent. The transplant was her only chance at a cure.
So on April 29, 2009, Chris received a much different present for a new kind of birthday: an infusion of healthy cells from a perfectly matched German donor named Carsten. "It was not an easy four months at the Hutch," she says, but she "was constantly amazed at the daily miracles that happened there."
Chris is one of those miracles. More than four years since her lifesaving transplant, she has become an active Fred Hutch supporter, as a generous benefactor and a vocal champion of the research that, she says, "gives patients like me hope."