My name is Wossene Tiruneh Bowler, I graduated from the California Institute of Arts in 1990. After graduation, I entered the film school program to acquire a masters degree and studied for a year and half before I married my husband. Soon after our marriage, my husband and I moved to Singapore where we spent ten years.
Unfortunately, in the year 2000 I was diagnosed with C.M.L. leukemia and was forced to move back to the United States for medical treatment. I was very fortunate to be accepted at the City of Hope Hospital for a bone marrow transplant. I was also blessed by the fact that my brother turned out to be a 100% match. I’m proud to say that he was my bone marrow donor. With chemotherapy my contaminated cells were wiped out and my brother’s bone marrow was given to me. It was the most difficult part of my life, not knowing what was going to happen with my recovery.
After I was cured, I went back home to Ethiopia to thank God for giving me a second chance and to pray for those who suffer with the same illness. I also went to fulfill my family's wish. During my illness, they had promised to take me to every Church in Ethiopia after my recovery.
For two years I had no problems and I was very happy. Towards the end of the two year period, I went for a bone marrow test and my doctor found that my own cells had come back. She explained, “You have no leukemia but we don’t want to take a chance, you have to take a medication called Gleevic.” She put me on the medication, which cost $2,500 per month. I was very blessed again as I was taking potassium pills to control its side effects. The day after I found out my results. I woke up and had difficulty moving my body and felt very heavy. I was crying and didn’t know what to do. I was depressed. I went back to my doctor and she suggested that I seek Psychiatric Therapy. I refused to go to therapy. I didn’t want to go to someone I had never met and tell them what happened to me. I decided to cure myself. I started by telling myself what I can do and what my wishes were, I suffered for a few weeks but one morning I snapped out of it. It was clear to me then, I survived for a purpose, and that is to do good and to pay back what I took from the people who helped me.
I decided to establish a foundation and named it the Life’s Second Chance Foundation. My wish is to build cancer hospitals around the world to give a second chance, like I received, for those who need it.
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