At 45 years old, Ann Radelet was told she only had six months left to live. She had already completed three years of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the outlook was grim.
“It [the cancer] was in my bones. It was in my blood. It was everywhere,” Radelet told CTV Vancouver Island.
With few options left, the Nanaimo, B.C. woman opted to undergo a stem cell transplant if a matching donor could be found.
In a stroke of good luck, Radelet found a lifeline in the form of a stranger in Germany.
“They just told me they had a nine out of a 10 match for me and that’s going to give me a 70 per cent success rate,” Radelet recalled.
The 70 per cent chance was evidently enough for Radelet.
Ten years later, the cancer survivor is celebrating her 55th birthday with a special friend – the woman who saved her life.
“This morning I thought, ‘whew 10 years.’ I would have been gone 10 years now if it hadn’t have been for Nicky,” Radelet said.
Nicky Buechner travelled from Germany to Nanaimo to officially meet the woman she donated her stem cells to all those years ago.
“I was so happy. It was such a great feeling that I saved a life,” Buechner said.
Following the successful transplantation, the two women spent years writing letters to each other. But it wasn’t until Wednesday that the two friends finally had the opportunity to meet in person.
“We hugged each other and we both cried,” Buechner said.
“We held onto each other a long time,” Radelet added.
Thanks to Nicky’s donation, Radelet was given a second chance and a new friend.
For information on how to donate stem cells, you can visit the Canadian Blood Services’ website.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Jessica Lepp