Community Health Leaders
Last updated: July 2023
In order to stay up to date on latest treatments, drug discovery, clinical studies and how to cope with blood cancer every day, Blood-Cancer.com brings you frequent articles, points of view and advice from leading health leaders and experts.
Current Health Leaders
Racheli is an inspiring cancer survivor looking to spread awareness on how to fight adversity with positivity and advocating for young adults with cancer. Racheli was diagnosed with Lymphoma at age 21 and video blogged her entire journey in its raw form. She laughs, she dances, she cries and, most importantly, she reminds us that everything is going to be okay. Read more.
Katelynn Bauer is a blood cancer survivor who battled the disease off and on for 5 years before finally beating it at age 27. She has had infusions, radiation and chromotherapy as well as multiple surgeries and from doing so, has come to have a whole new outlook on health, and how people have different ways of healing. Read more.
Hey! My name is Amanda People call me Panda lol! I am obsessed with pandas! I’m a dog mom to a standard dachshund named Dino. I have been an athlete of my life, doing many sports. My True love is track and field, I ran track and field for 13 years and retired in 2015. I was diagnosed with cancer twice. Read more.
Yolanda is founder of Spitfir Productions brand development catering small businesses. She holds many hats as an entrepreneur: Author, Fashion Editor, Production Product Developer, Stylist, and Branding Strategist. Yolanda is a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC; she holds degrees in Marketing as well as Merchandising. Yolanda is also the Founder and Executive Director of Mae’s Breath Foundation 501c (3) a lung cancer awareness organization which promotes and provides information to the community on lung wellness. Yolanda exudes advocacy when it comes to health and awareness, this young spitfire – hence the name of her business (dropping the “E”) is also a myeloma survivor diagnosed in her thirties. She has used her voice by writing and speaking of her experience with this condition, which faces a higher percentage of many Black people. Read more.
I taught special education classes for 39 years. My goal was to teach 40, but my health wouldn't allow it. I was tired all the time and lacked energy. One week after I checked out of school for the final time in 2017, I learned that I have Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS). This was something I had never heard of, so I started a new chapter of my life. Read more.
David Downs was a normal mild-mannered government worker, based in his home country of New Zealand. That is, until he contracted what he thought was a mild touch of the ‘flu. After ignoring the symptoms for far too long, when he finally went to see his doctor, he was somewhat ‘surprised and disappointed’ to discover he actually had a pretty major dose of the cancer. Read more
Leya Elijah is a 42-year-old cancer advocate, plus-size model and founder of This Is What A Fighter Looks Like. A charity established to create unique opportunities, events, moments, and experiences for female cancer survivors of all ages. The mission is to encourage both women and girls to live their dreams, embrace life through treatment and most of all don't be afraid to be Fierce and Fabulous while you Fight!!! Read more.
Having been treated and survived an aggressive form of Prostate Cancer twice since 2013, I made it a mission to reach out to men and their partners on the need for men to actively engage in and take responsibility for their personal health. Read more.
Matt was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma on May 2, 2001 at the age of 49. He had been feeling sick for several months leading up to the diagnosis, experiencing fatigue, fevers and night sweats. Eventually he was hospitalized because of severe anemia. During that stay he was diagnosed with Myeloma, an incurable, but treatable blood cancer. Matt had 4 different chemo regimens in less than a year, before arriving at one that was able to bring the cancer under control. Read more.
Susan Gonsalves 55, lives in central Massachusetts and was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia five years ago but believes the symptoms started many months before. A career journalist, she is currently the editor of two mental health-related publications and works remotely on these and other freelance projects while juggling the side effects and medical appointments that come along with CML. Read more.
Ronni Gordon is a Western Massachusetts-based freelance writer and former newspaper reporter writing about many of the same topics she covered in the Arts and Living sections, focusing on health and fitness, running and tennis, theater, and general interest features. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2003, she has had four stem cell transplants over a period of six years. She is officially cured but has chronic after effects including peripheral neuropathy, a susceptibility to squamous cell skin cancers, and graft vs. host disease. Read more.
Ramae Hamrin was a busy mother of three, high school math teacher, and long distance runner when she broke her femur in a fall in March of 2018. Shortly afterward, she was diagnosed with stage II multiple myeloma. She began writing as a way to stay connected with friends and family during her treatments which often took her away from home. Read more.
Ann Harper is a wife of 37 years, a mother of three young women, and grandmother to her 5 year old granddaughter. She is also a teacher, part time nurse, part time personal trainer, and full time student of life. She dabbles in gardening, vegan cooking, meditation, and other health related activities. Her dream is to visit every state in the US. Read more.
Crystal Harper is a broadcast meteorologist for the ABC station in Norfolk, VA. She has been predicting the weather since 2010 and loves what she does. Only six months after starting her new broadcasting job in Virginia, Crystal was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in May 2017. Read more.
Donna was happily working as a pediatric registered nurse and an associate director of music at her church when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in October of 2008. She received successful immunotherapy, but as NHL is wont to do, it resurfaced in 2012. Read more.
Shane Lee is a manager at Mena, AR Pizza Hut. Shane has worked in Law Enforcement of various departments for 4 years, Volunteer Fire Dept. and EMS EMT First Responder for 13 years before Pizza Hut. In March 2018, Shane was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) at 56 yrs old. He is currently in Remission after 2 1/2 months of chemotherapy. Read more.
Amber Lynch is currently a Resident Reporter for Myers Park Life Magazine, a Freelance Writer, and a blogger at MagnoliaMusings.blog. Raising three young sons keeps her busy, but grounded. Her recent diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma has created a renewed sense of faith and purpose seeking wellness and living an optimal life. She is hopeful that by sharing her experience as a Contributor to blood-cancer.com others with the same struggle may know they are not alone. As a cancer warrior she hopes to provide some insight into this journey we are on together. Read more.
Daniel P. Malito
Daniel has been writing about this absurd disabled life he lives for over ten years now. It all started wen he was just nine years old with a mysterious flu-like illness that took two years to diagnose. In the end, doctors agreed to call his disease Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (now JIA), but the truth is he never fully conformed to the accepted pathology of his illness. Because of this, Daniel endured years of hardship while the medical community searched for a remedy, and when one was finally found twenty-five years later, the damage had already been done. Recently, Daniel was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Read more.
Carole McCue is an RN with over 45 years of nursing experience. She earned her RN from the Cochran School of Nursing and her BS and MS degrees from Pace University in Pleasantville, NY. She has achieved national certifications in her specialty areas of intensive care nursing (CCRN), quality improvement (CPHQ), and nursing education (CNE). Carole has served as Chief Nursing Officer of an acute care facility and has authored publications and presented at national conferences. Read more.
Bob McEachern was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma in 2008. After a summer of unshakeable bronchitis that turned to pneumonia, a chest scan showed swollen lymph nodes that were given a 10% chance of being cancer. A few months later, a swollen node in his hip was biopsied, and that 10% chance turned into 100%. Follicular Lymphoma, a subtype of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma, is indolent (slow-growing) and incurable (but treatable). Like many FL patients, Bob chose to “watch and wait” after diagnosis, holding off treatment for two years until the swollen hip nodes resulted in lymphedema in his leg. Two years to the day of his diagnosis, he had the first of six rounds of a monoclonal antibody. Read more.
Angie is an active grandmother of three who is managing and thriving after 3 bouts of hairy cell leukemia. She and her husband share a love of travel and good food, and have been to several different countries. They also enjoy cycling and seek out new locations for riding their bikes. Read more.
Mike lives in Greensboro, NC with his wife Sue and his service dog Fynn (Find Your New Normal). He also writes for and maintains his own blog effcancerblog, where he talks about the ups and downs of living with a blood cancer and its effects on faith, family, and everyday life. Read more.
Rebecca Palpant Shimkets is a two-time thyroid cancer survivor and the daughter of two cancer survivors. Fourteen of her immediate family members have experienced cancer. She was 29 years old at the time of her first diagnosis and experienced a recurrence just four years later. Rebecca has a 20-year career in mental health focusing initially on the assessment and treatment of mental illnesses. Read more.
Katie was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia on Friday 19th January 2007, whilst studying History of Art at the University of Edinburgh aged 22. To date, she has lived with blood cancer for just over 11 years. Katie is rare with both her diagnosis - most diagnosed with CML are male and over 40, and her age at diagnosis. Anyone diagnosed with cancer in the UK aged between 16-24 as a teenage young adult (TYA) is automatically rare. As an 'ignored' middle child, Katie quite enjoys the fact that her diagnosis is doubly rare. It would seem that nothing Katie does is ever 'normal'. Read more.
I was diagnosed as stage 3 Multiple Myeloma in July 2019. I had a Stem Cell Transplant in the Winter of 2020. I’m now non-detectable on maintenance chemotherapy. I recently stopped the maintenance regime due to the side affects. It is a full-time job to deal with my life with cancer. I make it my mission to find joy in the Struggle. Read more.
Jim is a writer/photographer in Washington State. He was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in September 2009. Before retiring Jim worked in marketing as a commercial photographer, writer, graphic designer, and videographer/editor. Jim's CLL is progressing gradually and, although he gets tired more often and takes things slower, he hasn't yet needed any treatments. He still does some photography and writing as energy allows. Read more.
Maria has been a Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia patient since 2012. She has navigated her way through trials of daily oral chemotherapy and balances her diagnosis with raising her family and working for a non-profit charitable organization. Read more.
Deb Wesloh lives in Bulverde Texas. She has been married to her husband Kevin for 33 years and they have three boys; Kris, Joe and Josh. She retired as an Army Officer in 2005 and now works as government civilian at an organization that assists Soldiers separating from the Army get their Veterans Affairs claims adjudicated appropriately. Read more.
Former Health Leaders
Sierra was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September 2009 in Richmond, Va. At the time, she was currently enrolled as a full-time student and a collegiate athlete as a member of the Division 1 Field Hockey program. Read more.
Cynthia "MyelomaTeacher" Chmielewski
Cynthia (Cindy) Chmielewski attended Rutgers University graduating with degrees in Psychology and Education. Upon her graduation Cynthia secured her first teaching position and immediately fell in love with her chosen profession. Cynthia continued teaching for 28 years until she retired in 2009. In July 2008 Cynthia was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, after suffering for two years with debilitating back pain which was wrongly attributed to degenerative disc disease. Treatment with a stem cell transplant and targeted therapies put Cynthia's cancer in a very good partial remission. She continues myeloma treatment with a maintenance therapy protocol and is enjoying an excellent quality of life. Read more.
Elle is 30 years old and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA and is just getting back into the swing of everything after her stem cell transplant in 2015. After graduating from Temple University with a B.S. in Elementary Education, Elle was the founding teacher for a preschool in Center City. Less than a year into her first job as a teacher, Elle was constantly sick - but she chalked it up to being a first year teacher because every teacher will tell you the first year is your immune building year! Unfortunately for Elle, this was not the case and she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome deletion 5q. Read more.
Hong Donaldson is a proud mother to three beautiful and kind young adults, and wife to her best friend of 33 years, Thayer Donaldson. She is a CPA living in Wayne, NJ. The love and support of a close-knit family is her most valued gift. She feels very fortunate and blessed in so many ways. Today, she is most grateful for her family's good health, especially her husband's. Read more.
Vincent was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in 2003 at the age of 15 years old. Born March 4th, 1988 he is currently celebrating his 30th birthday by road-tripping across North America to raise awareness. Because his mother worked for the University of Penn healthcare system, he was treated at one of the best Children’s Hospitals in the world. One thing that made the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania so great is the community that Vincent felt from all of the staff from volunteer to doctor. As an only child to a single mother, having that community of people who were caring, encouraging, supportive and driven was really important in shaping him as a 15 year old junior in high school. Read more.
Molly Gorczyca is a 21-year-old student-athlete at a university in New Jersey. In April of 2019, she noticed extreme symptoms such as bruising, fatigue, and lack of appetite. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and immediately started chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia at the age of 19. Read more.
Terrilyn McCormick was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in 2015. It all started on Labor Day when abdominal pain landed her in the ER thinking she likely had gallstones. A CT scan revealed swollen lymph nodes throughout her abdomen and back. After several more months of feeling fatigued, continued abdominal pain, weight loss and surgery to biopsy a lymph node, she received a diagnosis of Follicular Lymphoma - a slow growing but incurable form of lymphoma. Read more.
Nick Myers, PhD
Nick Myers, "Dr. Nick," is currently a Medical Care Coordinator (MCM). He received his B.A. in Psychology from Old Dominion University, his M.A. in Human Sexuality & Health Studies from New York University and his Ph.D. from Widener University in Human Sexuality Education. He’s worked as adjunct faculty, a Community HIV Prevention Educator, a program manager for HIV Prevention Program and is a MCM in Virginia. Read more.
Even if one were to bizarrely take the view that CLL is a good cancer, it is definitely less than good to be diagnosed with it at the age of 40 as I was. As many a doctor has told me over the years, “Forty. Hmmm. That’s awfully young for CLL.” I never really have a good response to that so sometimes I just thank them for keeping current on their medical knowledge. Read more.
Alison Petok, MSW, LCSW, MPH
Alison Petok is an oncology social worker; she received her Master in Social Work and Master in Public Health from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked in oncology research and currently serves as a clinical social worker in the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University. In her current role she serves as the palliative medicine social worker, provides clinical services to patients and families, mentors current MPH students, and manages biopsychosocial screening programs. Read more.
TK Sellman, RPSGT CCSH
TK Sellman, RPSGT CCSH is a career journalist (Columbia Chicago, ’90). She was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia in 2010, which inspired her to go back to school to become a sleep technologist in 2012 and a professional sleep educator in 2014. Read more.
Cancer has drastically changed James outlook on life. Before cancer, he was like many fathers and husbands; striving to provide for his wife and family and plan for the future. With the future now much less certain, James is focused on getting the most of every day, every interaction and every relationship. He's made a bucket list and began working through it. One major bucket list item he completed this past summer was hiking Angel's Landing in Zions National Park in southern Utah. If you aren't familiar with that trail, go search it on YouTube. James also enjoys his wife, kids, extended family, building things, fixing things (cars and motorcycles), driving sports cars, riding motorcycles, backpacking, weightlifting, cycling, running and just about anything else that gets him outdoors, going fast, or both! Read more.
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