Rob Henslin is a bone marrow transplant survivor and close friend of Stanford Blood Center. He spends much of his time volunteering for the national bone marrow registry, inspiring audiences with his story, and making amazing plates of brownies.
In 1989, just six months after marrying my young bride, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. My wife and I were thrust into the world of cancer, and we watched our hopes and dreams shatter in an instant. At twenty-six years of age, I was told by doctors at the City of Hope National Medical Center that my prognosis was “poor.” But after nearly a year and a half of intensive chemotherapy, brain radiation, bone marrow biopsies and countless other procedures, I emerged on the other side of my disease, in remission and thankful for the blessing of each new day.
Thanks in large part to the numerous transfusions of whole blood, platelets, and plasma I received both as an inpatient and over the course of my outpatient treatment, I was given a second chance at life. My wife and I were granted an opportunity to grow our young relationship; a relationship that had been strained by changing roles and responsibilities, when I became the patient, and my wife became my caregiver.
When I first learned I had leukemia, I was told that because of the nature of chemotherapy, my wife and I would most likely not be able to have children. But in 1992, we were blessed with a miracle daughter. Two years later, a second daughter joined our family, and I began to entertain thoughts that perhaps I was out of the woods, that the cancer monkey asleep on my back might not ever awaken from his long slumber.
But the monkey did wake up. After nearly twenty years in remission, my leukemia returned. On October 20, 2008, I learned the grim news and was told I would need a bone marrow transplant to have any chance of long-term survival. Following several months of chemotherapy and a series of spinal taps, I received the best Christmas gift evernews that not one but four bone marrow donors had been found; all perfect matches across the ten genetic markers used to assess potential donor compatibility.
I received my bone marrow transplant on February 10, 2009, at Stanford Hospital’s E1 Transplant Unit. After 48 days in isolation I was discharged to begin a long road to recovery. I faced numerous setbacks and complications in that journey, but after two and half years, I am thankful to be alive, and to have the opportunity to return to some semblance of a normal life. But I will never be the same.
I spent the better part of my professional career working in the graphic arts, publishing, and marketing communications fields. I still have a passion for my craft, but after my cancer odyssey, I find myself drawn to pay it forwardto do everything I can to help other cancer patients and those in need of a bone marrow transplant. I volunteer my time to assist the Be The Match National Marrow Registry, registering potential donors at drive events and speaking on behalf of the organization as well. I also donate my time to help the Stanford Blood Center to ensure other patients receive the precious gift of life through blood and blood product donations.
Rob’s professional work has garnered numerous industry awards, including Silver Six Awards of Excellence from the International Association of Business Communicators, a Citation of Excellence from the American Advertising Federation, and Joey awards from the San Jose Film and Video Commission.
In addition, he has written a memoir to tell the compelling story of the twenty-year cancer odyssey he and his wife and family endured, and share the many blessings they received even in the darkest of times. “But I Was in Such a Good Mood This Morning!” is now available on Amazon.com and Createspace.com.
To contact Rob about speaking at your upcoming church, school or civic event, email him at email@example.com. For more information, visit www.post-traumaticpress.com.
Rob is featured here in a short video, part of our “From the Heart” series: