"Four Leaf Clover"

By Sonja Cary, Santa Ana, California

Greetings from Southern California. I had the pleasure of participating in the start up meeting for the National Neutropenia Network. Coralin and I have been together for the past nine years. She's the one with Cyclic Neutropenia. Since 1988, she's been injecting G-CSF. We received a call out of the blue from Dr. Dale's office in Seattle asking us to participate in his study. I was just finishing up my degree in Amherst, Mass., so we decided to participate. At the end of the semester we sent most of our belongings in a moving van to Coralin's mother. Our cats and whatever else fit in our Toyota headed west for Seattle.

We didn't think much of how Coralin's health and her lifestyle might be changed by this study. Up until then, she tried to be as active as the next person, but low neutrophils tripped her up a few times. By the sixth grade, she had spent enough time in bed to have read all the classics. She played basketball and swam at Santa Barbara High School, and at the same time, monthly illnesses gave her plenty of opportunities to move on to modern authors. She enrolled at West Point but spent too much time in the hospital to keep up with her classwork. In college at William and Mary, she made the most of her periods of health. She even crawled to enough classes to earn Phi Beta Kappa.

In January 1988, on our trek to Seattle, we encountered some bad weather. To beat a storm threatening to close Snoqualmie Pass, we drove into the night to reach Seattle. Early the next morning, with the car still packed, we showed up at the University Hospital to meet Dr. Dale and find out what to expect for the next few months. Since Coralin had become an expert at managing her illness, and we didn't want to get our hopes up, we didn't speculate on the success of this new experimental treatment that worked on Grey Collies and a kid named Matt.

As we arrived at the hospital, Coralin looked down at the green grass with the winter eyes of an Easterner. "Hey, a four-leafed clover." Coralin snapped it up and ran in to meet her new friends on Seven South.

Now, after completing a Master's Degree at Berkley, Coralin coaches basketball and teaches weight training and frisbee at Chapman University. She still tries to make the most of her health and energy as if it might not be there tomorrow. She frequently tells her friends, "You don't know what it's like to be healthy." The dramatic turnaround in Coralin's health is attributed to G-CSF. We think it's really the luck of the Irish!