Anna Martin passes bone marrow transplant milestone, meets donor

Anna Martin passes bone marrow transplant milestone, meets donor

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Anna Martin always loved swimming. It was one of the things she missed most after she was diagnosed with leukemia in the spring of 2011. She's back in the water now, but the workouts are tough. Anna Martin always loved swimming. It was one of the things she missed most after she was diagnosed with leukemia in the spring of 2011. She's back in the water now, but the workouts are tough.
"I'm just not used to it being so hard because it used to always be so easy," Anna Martin said. "I'm just not used to it being so hard because it used to always be so easy," Anna Martin said.
Another big step this year was meeting the man who had given her his bone marrow anonymously through the Be the Match registry. (source: Martin family) Another big step this year was meeting the man who had given her his bone marrow anonymously through the Be the Match registry. (source: Martin family)
"We are just are so very grateful for him. There's just not really a way to put that into words," Anna's mother Kristen said. "We are just are so very grateful for him. There's just not really a way to put that into words," Anna's mother Kristen said.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Two years ago, doctors didn't know if she'd survive, but thanks to a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous donor, Anna Martin beat cancer and can now focus on the future.

The two-year anniversary of her transplant, September 27, was a huge milestone. It means there's a very good chance she will never relapse. She also has a new friend in her life who's become more like family: the 33-year-old man who saved her life.

Anna always loved swimming. It was one of the things she missed most after she was diagnosed with leukemia in the spring of 2011. She's back in the water now, but the workouts are tough. 

"I'm just not used to it being so hard because it used to always be so easy," she said.

Anna also loves riding her horse Sassy, a gift from a stranger during her recovery, and something she hadn't done before she got sick.

"When I wasn't feeling great, I could just go and since I'd never done it before, I couldn't feel like I'm not as good as I used to be," she explained.

She's back with her friends at school, in the 7th grade now at Karns Middle School. She still goes to the doctor for monthly check-ups and wasn't happy to learn she'd need to take two pills a day for the rest of her life, though it's not much compared to the dozens she was taking at the height of her treatment. 

"I used to have to take 60, so I thought when I was done with that, I'd be done with them for good," Anna said.

Another big step this year was meeting the man who had given her his bone marrow anonymously through the Be the Match registry. Their first contact was a message Anna left on his voicemail.

"I told him I'm the girl he gave his bone marrow to and I just said thanks for saving my life," Anna said.

Then they met this spring in Cincinnati.

"He has very special place in our heart," said Anna's mother Kristen.

She has been thanking God for Jeremy long before she knew his name or was able to give him a hug.

"We are just are so very grateful for him. There's just not really a way to put that into words," Kristen said.

As the family adjusts to their new normal, Kristen says Anna is an every day reminder that miracles are possible.

"It's made us more grateful. We definitely see the blessings in every single day, even the little things. There's not a day that goes by that we're not reminded how lucky and blessed we are that Anna's still with us," she said.

Anna isn't about to forget all of those kids still fighting for their lives. She is now an ambassador for East Tennessee Children's Hospital, and each year on her birthday she collects gift cards for the families of patients there.

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