After several anxiety-filled months in the hospital, after numerous chemotherapies, radiation, and a stem cell transplant, two-year-old Tess is finally back home with her family.
Finding happiness isn't always an easy task in our current environment. With the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, our own individual worries - the weight can feel heavy, constant. But...sometimes some light shines through. For Carsten Kruger and his wife, Anne, that light was a breakfast with their little daughter, Tess, last Saturday morning. After several anxiety-filled months in the hospital, after numerous chemotherapies, radiation, and a stem cell transplant, the two-year-old was finally back at their dining table. “The first breakfast for three was indescribable. We were just happy,” says dad Carsten.
When Anne and Carsten found out in March 2021 that their dream child - their small, happy Tess - was suffering from acute leukemia, things came to a standstill for a short time." It was a hard blow," says Carsten. The hardworking father, who himself had previously saved the life of a young mother by donating stem cells, tried to hold on to hope.
The next setback unfortunately came in the summer: In order to survive, Tess needed a stem cell donation. The path through this process was long and tough. Tess was first treated in her hometown, then later went through transplantation in a different city. The struggling parents tried to spend as much time as possible with their daughter. They shared the care of the little one. There were good days and less good days. But even with the bad ones, the parents tried not to fall into despair, "We have always tried to see the positive," says Carsten, "And have often been given moments of happiness that one would not initially expect with this kind of illness. We were very touched that a small child could bring so many people together to do good."
8,500 people ordered a registration set from DKMS as part of an online campaign for Tess. The Krugers are grateful that these people will be available as stem cell donors for many more blood cancer patients in need in the future.
When the first donor cells could be seen in the Tess's blood after the transplant, Carsten drew a red heart around the value in the laboratory report and sent the picture to family and friends. "Finally, last Friday, Tess was allowed to return home. When entering the apartment, Tessie's smile took up her entire face. She hasn't lost that smile to this day," Anne reminisces. Together, the small family is now enjoying the long-missed together time within their own four walls. It's just a normal, everyday family life, and yet it means the greatest happiness for these three.
"Sometimes we start playing at five o'clock. Tess likes to draw or would like something read to her," says Carsten. The parents take their little one outside as often as possible. They walk to the bakery and notice that their neighbors are also happy that Tess, who is now almost two and a half, is finally home again. "Every night we put a happy, exhausted child to bed. It doesn't take much more."
It's been about 40 days since the transplant. The next bone marrow puncture is due on day 60. It should show that everything is heading in the right direction. Day 100 is considered a milestone. Six months after the transplant, Anne and Carsten hope that Tess, who loves being with lots of people, will finally be able to go to childcare again. "We are very happy," says Carsten. “We appreciate simple, simple things that are normal for others. And we are confident that every day we are getting closer to our great hope of a full recovery for our daughter."
Little Tess can laugh again and be at home with her mom and dad because a suitable match was available for her. Perhaps you, too, carry someone else's happiness within you. Register as a stem cell donor with the DKMS. You too could soon be giving a seriously ill person a second chance at life.