By Kristin Osgood Lamelas
I am one of you.
My name is Kristin Osgood Lamelas. I’m a hard-core Dirty Girl and have been for almost three years. I confess that I am also a sauce whore and have licked my fingers after scooping out that last bit of dressing from my Vitamix.
In my past life, I went to art school, traveled around the world on my credit card (and racked up 70K worth of debt- shhh!); I smoked cigarettes for a while and drank way too much red wine on more than one (hundred) occasions, and had a minor addiction to peanut covered caramel apples in the fall. Damn, they’re good!
But, for the most part, I kept my shit together, exercised, and did weights at the gym; I ate chicken and salads and low fat yogurt and thought I was pretty healthy. I went out on lots of dates, and hung out with friends. I’ve had a stable job for the past 18 years as a high school graphic design and photography teacher. I make art when I can and have had some success showing in galleries.
My dad, a Vietnam vet, who was sprayed with Agent Orange, had kidney disease. His kidneys were all shriveled up, and he was about ready to go on dialysis. Me, my two sisters and mom were tested. We were all a match. Since I didn’t have kids, we decided it should be me. I donated my left kidney to my dad in January of 2011. Little ‘Kenny the Kidney’ pinked up right away, and my dad was restored to good health! Yay! Go dad! My remaining kidney grew 30% larger to pick up the slack, and I was fine too. Boom chicka wow! Karmic mission complete.
Fast forward to May 2017. I was really in a funk. I felt fat and uninspired and was stalking face lift procedures online. I visited a friend in Florida to get some sunshine and met the most gorgeous woman I ever saw, Shelley, who told me to watch “Forks over Knives.”
That was it. I lost 30 pounds eating a whole food plant based no-oil diet, found Clean Food Dirty Girl, and have been loving on my organic green juices, green smoothies, big ass salads, meditating and rolling on my noodle ball ever since. My life, body and mindset have totally transformed!
I am so lucky to have an imperfectly perfect hubby (who I didn’t meet until I was 38 years old!), a sweet and silly seven-year-old daughter who is obsessed with watching other kids play dolls on Youtube. What is that all about? We have dance parties to Sia songs and play Barbies (a lot). We have a super sweet German Shepherd dog named Reina, and a cozy home.
Life is good – deliciously boring, but really fucking good. I’m so grateful. I get teary thinking about it. Instead of numbing myself with wine on Friday nights, these days, I pour a kombucha and start batch cooking! Can I get a hell yeah?!
My dad enjoyed life for almost nine years after his surgery. He traveled and spent time with us and loved playing bocce ball with his friends in Florida. It was all good until he developed lung cancer that progressed to his bones, and took his life on September 13, 2019. We are heartbroken.
I felt my mood slipping. I thought I was getting depressed again due to my dad’s death. On October 7, 2019, my school had a blood drive, and I always donate. This time, I was rejected for low hemoglobin. Normal hemoglobin for men is 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter; for women, it’s 12.0 to 15.5 grams per deciliter. I was at 9.
The worker told me four times, “You’d better get this checked out. I mean really… you need to get this checked out!” He scared me pretty good. I told work I’d be a little late and went to the doctors office the next morning. I asked my doctor for antidepressants, and he said, “I don’t think you’re depressed. I think you’re anemic.” He sent me to a hematologist who called me in right away for a bone marrow biopsy.
Shortly after that I was diagnosed with high-risk Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), an aggressive blood cancer. If left untreated, I could be dead in five months.
What?! I’ve never heard of this before. I can’t even pronounce Myelodysplastic Syndrome. This doesn’t make any sense.
I looked it up. How did I get this? Did I bring this on myself? I don’t really fit the criteria. It mostly affects older men, over age 60, or people who have previously had chemotherapy or radiation, or people who have been exposed long term to benzene or radiation, environmental toxins or tobacco. Yes, I had been around tobacco, but I haven’t smoked in almost a decade. I’m super fucking healthy! I mean, I just did a triathlon with my sister in July. I biked all summer. I feel good. This can’t be happening.
My chances of getting this are like hitting the Powerball, they said. “It’s just bad luck,” they said. I’ve always considered myself lucky. I am so grateful for everything in my life. I just can’t believe this. If I can get cancer, anyone can. I was totally blindsided.
I needed to start chemo right away. The next week, I had a double blood transfusion. My hemoglobin was down to 7.5. Then I started IV chemotherapy, five days of Dacogen. I went for second opinions and chose a doctor who put me on Venetoclax pills to help the chemo work faster. That medicine costs $15,000 a month! Thank God, my insurance covers it. I am lucky to have great insurance and live close to great hospitals. I was lucky to get in to see these doctors as fast as I did.
While I am being treated, the only possible cure is a bone marrow transplant.
My sister was tested. She thought this would be a perfect story, I saved my dad’s life; now she could save my life. Turns out, my sister is not a match.
If someone needs a bone marrow transplant and no one in their family is a match, the only way to find a match is through the bone marrow donor registry network. Almost anyone can volunteer to be a bone marrow donor. I started asking everyone I knew to register with the network to help build the amount of possible donors. This might be my, and a whole lot of other people’s, only chance to find a match and get the necessary bone marrow transplant we need to survive.
I reached out to Molly and asked if she would help me spread the word about getting on the bone marrow donor registry. She said yes, and I wrote this piece for you.
While I wait for a donor, I’m eating all the plants and doing my Lighten Up movement practice. Thanks to Molly, Team Dirty and Michelle Andrie, I’ll be going into this strong and healthy, and that, they say, is the number one predictor of how well a person does with a transplant and how they recover.
If you feel drawn to help, you might be able to save someone’s life through an organ, blood or bone marrow donation. How cool is that? Here’s a link to learn more. I would love for anyone reading this to register. Who knows, you might even save my life!
With all my love, my deepest gratitude and lots of booty bumps,
Kristin, on behalf of Team Dirty and myself, we’re sending so much love and hugs your way. We’re here for you and we are cheering you on.
Have you ever volunteered to be an organ, blood or bone marrow donor? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Makes about 6 cups
- 3 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed (450 g)
- 2 cups frozen corn (270 g)
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (165 g)
- 1/2 cup finely-diced red onion (65 g)
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro (5 g)
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well. Transfer the mixture to a container and store in your fridge.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with activating your hero mode.