Our Hero at Cypress: Erin’s Story

Erin during the blood stem cell donation process

For many of us, Thanksgiving provides a time to reflect on our lives and express thanks for the many blessings that have come our way. For Cypress HomeCare Solutions, it is also a time to thank our clients, caregivers and staff for allowing us to fulfill our calling in providing compassionate care to our community. Nothing shows our dedication to caring as a company and as individuals more than the selflessness of our own scheduling coordinator Erin Ditto, who recently gave someone a new chance to live.

Erin on the morning of the donation at Mayo Clinic

Seven years ago, Erin’s father, an avid blood donor, was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. As a result of his diagnosis, he was no longer able to give blood, and in showing her support for her dad, Erin decided to begin donating her own blood. But the story doesn’t end there. While donating her blood for the first time, Erin was asked if she could be included in the National Marrow Donor Program. Thinking this may help her dad in the future, she had no second thoughts and simply said yes.

Flash forward seven years, and with her dad doing well handling his disease, Erin got a phone call from the Be The Match Foundation alerting her that she was a preliminary match for a young woman with the exact same diagnosis as her father. This time, however, the disease was acute and progressing much faster, and the young woman would need a bone marrow transplant in the very near future. After confirming her willingness to donate, submitting to additional medical tests, and completing a mountain of paperwork, Erin was ready to start the peripheral blood stem cell donation process.

For five straight days before the procedure, Erin received injections that boosted her blood stem cell count. Fighting through the nausea and exhaustion, Erin came to work each of these days with a spirit of encouragement and empowerment, knowing that she was in the midst of changing someone’s life. The process culminated on Friday, November 9 when Erin donated her bone marrow-producing blood stem cells, sitting for eight hours with a needle in each arm, watching as her blood was removed, filtered for stem cells and injected back into her other arm (for a total of seven cycles of blood volume).

According to Erin, donating her stem cells was a no-brainer, even though she says it “felt like I ran a marathon” after the procedure. Not only is she giving a young women a chance of a lifetime, she is also an inspiration to everyone she knows. After learning of Erin’s intention to donate, one of the cheerleaders she coaches at Grand Canyon University is now organizing a bone marrow drive to educate people on how they too can make a difference in another person’s life.

At Cypress, we have so much to be thankful for, and one of those things is having compassionate individuals on staff like Erin who truly go above and beyond to help others, even strangers. We couldn’t be more proud of Erin and her willingness to give a new chance at life for this young woman. Erin, you are our hero — thank you!

Erin with her stem cells after the donation
Posted on November 20, 2012