POMARIA — At just 21 years old, Hannah Coker’s life was busy. Like many young adults, the Pomaria native had two jobs, spent time with family and friends and liked to travel in her spare time.
However, Coker’s life was turned upside down after a bone marrow biopsy determined that she had aplastic anemia, a rare bone marrow failure disorder.
The Mayo Clinic reports that aplastic anemia occurs when the body stops producing enough new blood cells. This can leave a person feeling fatigued and pose a higher risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding.
Aplastic anemia is a rare and serious condition that can occur suddenly or occur slowly and get worse over time. Treatments for aplastic anemia include medications, blood transfusions or a stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant.
The Mayo Clinic also writes that there is generally no prevention for most cases of aplastic anemia, but avoiding exposure to insecticides, herbicides, organic solvents, paint removers and other toxic chemicals may lower a person’s risk of the disease.
Some of the symptoms that are associated with aplastic anemia include: fatigue, rapid or irregular heart rate, unexplained or easy bruising, skin rashes and pale skin.
It was the unexplained bruising, rapid heart rate and skin rashes that first caught Coker’s attention.
Coker said that around the middle of October she began noticing bruises that would not go away, which her family thought came from Coker being clumsy. These bruises then started developing into purple rashes. She then started experiencing rapid heartbeats on and off, resulting in her family taking her to the emergency room on Oct. 28.
“I started having a rapid heartbeat the Saturday before I went into hospital. I had the bruising that would not go away, which we thought was me just being clumsy,” Coker said.
Coker was admitted into the hospital on Oct. 29. She is currently admitted to a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she has been since Dec. 31.
She said that since her diagnosis, everything has been a whirlwind, but the goal is trying to find the best care possible so that she can go back to normal life.
“It was overwhelming and it was basically trying to find the best care as soon as possible. I had to quit working and at the time it was doctors appointments at least twice a week, which threw everything into a whirlwind for us,” Coker said.
Coker is currently undergoing chemo treatments in Charlotte, where she will be for the next 6-8 weeks. She said that the chemo treatments are causing her to be very tired and to develop heartburn.
“I’m just trying to find a new normal and I’m having to rest a lot. I don’t feel like myself honestly. I have a lot of family around me for support to keep my spirits up and friends are the same way, they will either call or text me,” she said.
She added that after the bone marrow transplant and blood and platelet transfusions, the next steps will be to continue to monitor her health. Then, after about a year, Coker will hopefully be able to get back to her normal life, which she said is the goal.
Along with having to quit her jobs, the financial stress is building as the bills come in. To help offset costs, Coker and her family have created an online fundraiser through the organization RedBasket.org. The goal is to raise $20,000 by Jan. 18, which is the final day to donate.
“We are very appreciative of those that donate because I do have a lot of medical bills and with traveling it’s adding up,” Coker said.
To learn more about RedBasket.org or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit redbasket.org/1554/hannahs-healing-journey.
RedBasket.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit crowdfunding website dedicated to helping individuals raise money for personal emergencies and community improvement projects in a fee-free environment.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.