Kristin’s Heartbreaking Bone Marrow Donor Story + Texas Caviar

whole_food_plant_based_texas_caviar_8

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.

Fuck.

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.

“It’s just bad luck,” they said.

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.

Double Fuck.

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.

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.

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


It is with much sadness that we learned of Kristin’s passing on March 12, 2021. Kristen was such a bright light in this world and her light shines on in her beautiful daughter, and in all of the memories that her friends and family hold close. Kristin, wherever you may be, thank you for gracing us with your presence in our community. You are loved and missed.

Molly
March 30, 2021

Plant Based Oil Free Texas Caviar

Makes about 6 cups
Author: Molly Patrick

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well. Transfer the mixture to a container and store in your fridge.

Notes

Click here for perfectly crunchy Chili-Lime Corn Chips (pictured).

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with activating your hero mode.

Xo
Molly

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Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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50 Comments

  1. Lydia B Fiedler on January 25, 2020 at 9:18 am

    5 stars
    Oh Kristin! What a positive, joyful and strong lady you are. I’m so glad I clicked over to read this today <3 I will be praying for that match you were kind enough to give to your dad. You inspire me. Please keep us updated!

    And to Molly – bless your little eyes for not using blackeyed peas in this recipe – I will try this one! 🙂

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 10:54 am

      Thank you so much Lydia!! <3

  2. Abigail on January 25, 2020 at 9:25 am

    I submitted my swab a couple months ago and I’m eagerly waiting to get a call to help someone !! I work at a hospital and we do Bone Marrow Biopsies often and the prices to get bone marrow really doesn’t aren’t that bad at all – so I def encourage everyone to get on the registry to help someone !

    I hope they get someone quick for you <3

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 11:50 am

      Awesome! Thank you for swabbing! I hope so too 🙂

  3. Jo-Ann Berry on January 25, 2020 at 9:33 am

    I was on the bone marrow donation list for 23-24 years. I first registered when a local church had a drive to register people hoping to help a young mother who had no family matches. I was hopeful at the time as we had similar Scottish/English heritage.
    I was never called and just before I turned 61 I was kicked out! I’m super healthy but the age cutoff is a statistic. If anyone in my family every needed bone marrow I would fight to be considered, but can no longer be included in the national registry.

    • Doris Ziefle on January 25, 2020 at 10:08 am

      Same here! I was on the donation list for a very long time. Unfortunately, my age makes me no longer eligible to donate, which makes me sad. I’ve never been called, but it would have been a gift I would gladly give. I’ve encouraged all of my 4 adult children to get on the registry, and they all are! Like you, if anyone in my family needed anything whatsoever from my body, I would fight like hell to give it.

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 12:34 pm

      How kind of you to help people register on her behalf! They would likely test you if someone in your immediate family needed a BMT.

  4. Rebecca on January 25, 2020 at 9:50 am

    My auntie died of MDS last year. She was in her 80s but the eventual diagnosis came too late to help her. I’ve been on the transplant list ever since but I’ve not been a match yet. Time is on your side & I wish you and your family all the strength in the world xxx

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s a horrible disease. Thank you for your strength. We’ll need it. <3

  5. Pauline Dunlop on January 25, 2020 at 10:49 am

    I applied to get on the register here in Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿. Unfortunately I was turned down because I’d had TIA previously.
    I’m so much healthier now but they still won’t consider me 😢

  6. Becky on January 25, 2020 at 11:08 am

    I am not eligible due to my age but thank you to Mollie and the team for letting you get the word out. I am a retired nurse and used to take care of kidney transplant patients, prepping them and then caring for them after their surgery. I think many people believe it is just a matter of deciding which family member will donate, be it blood, bone marrow or a kidney. It is never that simple.
    Sending good thoughts into the universe on your behalf.

  7. Julia on January 25, 2020 at 11:16 am

    I have been on the donor registry list for more than 15 years and have never received the call that I am a match for someone needing me to be their donor. My friends daughter became a donor when she signed up at an event while in college and was called a month later. It’s so random but hopefully more people will sign up and be a part of the registry. I hope your match is found soon!

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      Yes! Thank you. How wonderful for your friend’s daughter. Younger donors are definitely preferred, they have the highest success rates.

  8. JoAnne Lowe on January 25, 2020 at 11:56 am

    I too wanted to sign up but I’m 70 and over the age limit, though I feel better than when I was 50. I hope and pray a match is found. A positive outlook goes a long way when this happens. Agent Orange has done so much bad to our vets and their families.
    Blessings.

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 12:48 pm

      So glad you feel better than you did at 50! Thank you for your love and blessings. I will be so thankful to turn 50.

  9. Mary Ann Scanlon on January 25, 2020 at 11:59 am

    I also used to be on the donor list, but now I can only donate my cadaver (too old). I want those little fuckers in med school to see my clean arteries. I’m going to get a “plant based no oil” tattooed on my sternum. In any case, I think of you and say a little prayer for you often Kristin. With love, Mary Ann

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 12:38 pm

      Hahaahaha! Yes, you rock! Thank you for the prayers!

      • Shelley on January 27, 2020 at 6:45 pm

        I love Mary Ann’s outlook on life! You go girl!! And Kris you’ve so got this. I can’t wait to celebrate with you when its time to tell cancer to blow off!! We’ll toast with a tall glass of ginger kombucha and a shot of power greens!!

        Plant based no oil tat. I likeeee itttt

  10. Chantal on January 25, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    Hello Kristin,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you, first for the lost of your dad, sending you my sincere sympathy, i am lucky to still have mom and dad in my life and very healthy and i am so grateful.

    Secondly, i am totally amazed by your serenity in regards to your diagnostic of cancer! I have been on a donor list for many years but never received the call to say that i am a match, maybe one day!

    I am sending you a huge wave of positive energy! You’ve got this! One day at a time!

    All the best!!!!xx

    Chantal from Canada!

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you Chantal, for reading my story, for being on the donor list, and for the wave of positive energy! I feel it. Yes, cherish your mom and dad. It’s like one of my pillars collapsed. I miss him every day but know he’s there guiding me through this.

  11. Tina on January 25, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    💜
    I was on the registry for about 40 years but got removed this past year due to age. Never got called though I always wished I was someone’s match.
    I will remind my sons & other younger folks to consider being in the registry so they can possibly help someone- maybe you! 💜

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 27, 2020 at 5:41 am

      Hi Tina,
      So wonderful that you were on the registry for 40 years! Thank you for encouraging your sons and their peers to get registered. It’s so important. That would be amazing if one of them were my match. It’s possible! Lots of love to you.

  12. Deb on January 25, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Still sending positive vibes, Kristin! ❤️
    I was lucky enough to be a match for my amazing husband and donated my left kidney to him nearly 5 years ago. No issues for either of us.

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 25, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      Wow! So amazing. What a great gift you gave him. It brings me to tears. Thank you for the positive vibes!

  13. Dori Waite on January 25, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Been on the registry for years. I’m
    past that magical 44 age the doctors like but I’m staying on the registry till they kick me off! Sending so much positive energy that your match is there soon! ❤️

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 27, 2020 at 5:35 am

      Thank you for being on the registry! You just never know. Thank you for the positive energy, Dori. I feel it.

  14. kelly on January 25, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Dear Kristin,
    Firstly, your daughter is a-freakin’-dorable!!! Your writing is so lively and fun and I was so touched by the way you donated a part of you for your dad, so selflessly. If anything, Karma will be yours.
    I am a decades-long survivor of stage 3 totally metastasized thyroid cancer as a young mother and have had a lot of systemic radiation, so I am also an unwilling candidate for your challenge. I am no longer in the running to be a donor due to my history, but I just want to send my love, blessings and best wishes for everything good for you and your family.
    Please keep us updated with your status. You are inspiring.
    Hugs,
    Kelly Weichsel-Arya, RN (Plant Based Nurse Educator), EMT
    and Co-Founder Plant Yourself Healthy

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 27, 2020 at 5:33 am

      Thank you, Kelly! My daughter is my heart. She gives me everything to live for. I know you understand that. YOU are inspiring! How wonderful that you are thriving and helping others thrive as well. Thank you for the love, blessings and well wishes. Sending them to you as well. Big Hugs

  15. Kim Williamson on January 25, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Dear Kristin,
    You are such a role model of bravery. What an amazing gift you gave your dad. I am probably too old to be a good candidate, but will register anyway. I donate blood every 8 weeks as I am O-. I started doing this when I got healthy (sober and vegan) and I’ve now donated over 20 times. I always think of the people I might be helping with my extra-awesome plant based blood.
    I’m so glad you continue to take such amazing care of yourself. You are in my thoughts and please, please keep us posted on your progress. Sending hugs

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 27, 2020 at 5:27 am

      Thank you for donating your clean, healthy blood Kim! Yes, it’s so important. It was really eye-opening to see all of the other people that needed blood when I was being transfused. Some people need blood every week, indefinitely. I try not to think about the animal fats that must be circulating around in the donated blood I received- just thankful to have it. Requesting vegan blood isn’t a thing yet. Darn!

  16. Carrie on January 26, 2020 at 7:31 am

    Thank you Kristin and team Dirty for getting the word out. I have been on the donor list for about 5 years. I hope you find your match!

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 27, 2020 at 5:28 am

      Thank you Carrie!

  17. Denara on January 26, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    Moved to tears. I just followed the link and registered. Reading more and learning while I wait for the swab kit.
    All my love.

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 27, 2020 at 5:29 am

      Thank you so much Denara! Sending love <3

  18. Mandy on January 26, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Kristin,
    I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia 3 years ago and celebrated my 2 year anniversary of my bone marrow transplant. My donor registered at Be the Match.
    I feel like a million bucks and life is back to normal. I will pray for you the perfect match! I hope that Molly will keep us updated on your journey.

  19. Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 27, 2020 at 5:23 am

    Happy Anniversary! That’s so exciting. You just made my heart happy. AML is like the mean big brother of High-risk MDS. I’m so glad you are recovered and healthy and back to normal. I will keep Molly and Team Dirty updated on my progress periodically. It will be a long road. Thank you for giving me hope.

  20. Helen on January 27, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I donated my left kidney to my brother-in-law about 8 years ago. We are both doing great. Organ donation is a wonderful way to spread love, plants and happiness. It was an amazing experience and I would totally do it again (if I had a third kidney!). I’ve been on the bone marrow registry for about 30 years. I’ve never been called, but I’m still hoping. I have a few more years until I age out. Sending you positive vibes, Kristin.

  21. Nicole on January 29, 2020 at 4:48 am

    Thank you for sharing your story with this wonderful community. I have been on the registry for about 10 years, but I will rally some more swabs on your behalf. ❤️
    Nicole

  22. Heather on January 29, 2020 at 5:13 am

    I just signed up!! How easy!! They mail the swab and I can do it from home!! Thank you for sharing your story. Prayers. Love. Healing light. ❤️

  23. Jeanne on January 29, 2020 at 6:11 am

    I was an almost perfect match for my wonderful brother who developed AML. Since he had no perfect match and was out of time, they decided to use my bone marrow. It gave him another 2 1/2 years, which I am so grateful for. I wish it would have been a cure but there are so many things in life we don’t have control of.
    The medical innovations are improving everyday and bone marrow transplants are becoming more successful everyday. I hope a perfect match is found for you as soon as possible and your health is restored. I know what a long road this journey this can be. I believe with all my heart that changing your diet to healthy, nutritious food is a very wise decision and will help you in so many ways. Enjoy life and cherish every day! I pray a match is found for you very soon. ❤️

  24. Melissa on January 29, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I tried to register, but I guess I’m too old. Rats! Sending you love and healing and ease as you work your way through this rough time. You’ve GOT this!

    • Kristin Osgood Lamelas on January 29, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Thank you Melissa! 🌱 💪🏼 ❤️

  25. Shannon on January 29, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Yes! I was a Liver donor in September of 2016. Whenever I think about it it almost brings me to tears. My recipient is healthy and living life to the fullest. My life and the community I live in has has changed is so many positive ways. It truly was a miracle.

  26. Alesha M on January 29, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    After reading your story I signed up, sent in my sample and am now in the registry. Praying for you and your family.

  27. Megan on February 1, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Sending you some love Kristin! I started donating blood regularly last year and will take a look at other donation requirements/processes.

  28. Shelley Stanfield on February 3, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Kris,
    Thanks for the shout out girlfriend but it’s you that’s the gorgeous woman…inside and out! You have been my inspiration on many levels ever since we met and your upbeat, kick-ass attitude with this cancer is just another way you are proving how amazing you are! Positivity and clean eating is the only way to live life! You’ve got this dirty girl and your going to be a beacon of light for others.
    Love you my friend! Pass the kale!! 💗
    S.

  29. Julia W on February 12, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. Getting on the registry is something I have often thought about, but put off. Today I registered. I hope you find your match. Much love.

  30. Diane Meyers on July 21, 2020 at 7:19 am

    5 stars
    Finding a match is just the beginning! My brother in law had AML and had a bone marrow transplant in June. His latest biopsy showed he was cancer free. It has been a very rough road. I hope you have found a donor by now and are well on your way to healing. I would donate, but I found out I was too old!!

  31. Lesley Nicol on March 31, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    Very sorry to read about Kristin’s passing. Life is both wonderful and dreadful and all in between with no rhyme or reason, so sad for her family.

    • Kelly Weichsel-Arya on April 1, 2021 at 2:25 pm

      Rest In Peace, dear Kristin.

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