By: Jennifer Hoffman
Daniele Parker Magnum has been the sole provider for her family. Working 16 hour days at VCU Hospital as a Hospital Admin responsible for Residents and Fellows was a usual occurrence for Daniele. For most people they would hate it but for Daniele, she loved it and at work was where she truly shined.
That all changed in November of 2018. What she thought was just a blood clot turned into something so much more severe.
Daniele being the workhorse she is, didn’t think her leg being swollen was that important so she finished her work day with no sense of urgency to get it looked at. After about 4 hours the swelling in her leg didn’t go down, so she thought maybe I should get this looked at after all.
Daniele and her husband Linnie headed to the Emergency Room and from there she had several tests done to figure out what was causing the unusual swelling. “The doctor said, the good news is that you don’t have a blood clot, bad news is that your platelet count is low (70,000).” she said.
The nurses continued to make Daniele as comfortable as possible, that’s when the reality of her situation sank in. She wasn’t leaving the hospital any time soon.
Further testing revealed that the swelling wasn’t because of a blood clot, but that she had cancer, Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) to be specific.
After a three week stay at VCU and some serious soul searching, Daniele knew that staying at the hospital she worked at just wasn’t the right fit for her. She described her hospital room as her office. “Because I worked there, I knew a lot of people and the behind the scenes stuff it just wasn’t a good fit for me. So I decided to head back to Philadelphia and get treatment at Penn.”
The Richmond, Virginia couple packed their bags and headed towards Daniele’s hometown to receive the best of the best care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Once she got to Penn, Daniele was informed that she would need a bone marrow transplant. Neither of her siblings were a match, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel for Daniele. “God was smiling on me, there were 4 matches. 10 point match that’s how my donor was selected. “ she said.
She received her transplant on October 23rd, and checked into Nick’s House just a few weeks later.
For the natural born caretaker, taking a step back and letting others do the work has been one of the hardest adjustments for Daniele. “The toughest thing has been not being in control. I get winded, if I want to do something I just can’t. I’m relying on my husband to do a lot of stuff. “
Easy. That’s how Daniele and Linnie describe their situation.
That’s the aim of Nick’s House is to alleviate the stressors that a cancer diagnosis brings and to allow families to heal in a healthy environment. “This experience has taught me to step back and take time to myself and do things other than work. I have to think back on how I’ve been spending all my time.” Daniele said.
For Daniele she looks at her cancer diagnosis as that it worked out the best way possible, you don’t want to get cancer but for her it couldn’t have lined up any better. “2 years ago I selected cancer insurance for my open enrollment, little did I know I would actually need cancer insurance one day. I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to continue to get paid, I’m on sick time right now and then once that runs out I’ll take vacation time, then disability.”
It’s a little break from work that God said she needed.
She is on day 49 of 100 days of treatment, with January 31st being her last day if her last biopsy and blood draw go as planned.
After her 100 days is up Daniele is hopeful she can return home and gain a sense of normalcy back and meet her bone marrow donor who gave her the strong nails that she is so happy to finally have. She is also looking forward to being at home with her 34 year old son who has a mental illness;which has made this ordeal a little tougher than usual. As Daniele and Linnie are his stability and routine, “He calls me every day and he’s super concerned about my hair!” she said.
“I think of my situation as God said slow down. I’ve been very fortunate in the sense that things aligned perfectly for me, we literally had no place to stay. I’m so grateful for Nick’s House. This has been fantastic.”