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Featured fundraisers: Meghan and Caitlyn

Sisters and fundraisers Meghan and Caitlyn during their summer choreography project

Twin sisters Meghan and Caitlyn plan to participate in NMDPSM Cycle this upcoming summer, a series of rides to give patients hope on their transplant journey. As lovers of adventure and the outdoors, the twins thought it would be a great way to fundraise and give back to NMDP, an organization that has given so much to them.

Facing the unexpected

Meghan spent the summer of 2021 camping, hiking, biking and co-choreographing a large dance project in nature alongside her twin sister, Caitlyn. But as the fall approached, Meghan noticed unusual bruising and fatigue during her normal daily activities. After worsening symptoms and multiple tests and biopsies, she was eventually diagnosed with aplastic anemia.

“All at once, I felt as though my world and my future shrank in around me,” said Meghan.

It was determined that a blood stem cell transplant would be needed. Ideally, Meghan’s twin sister Caitlyn would have been a genetic match and be able to donate. “As our world was turning upside down and I felt powerless in this new, surreal reality that was unfolding in front of us, I cannot articulate how important the idea of being that life-saving donor for Meghan became in my mind. Meghan and I have shared so much of our lives—from a literal embryo—so on an emotional level, it made absolute sense that we would now share our bone marrow as well;” said Caitlyn.

But because of their shared genetics and the nature or Meghan’s blood disorder, doctors decided the best course of action for treatment would be to find an unrelated donor. That’s when her medical team turned to the NMDP RegistrySM.

Her sister’s keeper

Although Caitlyn was not Meghan’s donor, as her caregiver she was with her throughout her transplant journey. She joined Meghan at all her appointments, stayed with her in the hospital, tracked her medications, kept a clean home environment and prepared healthy meals. For Caitlyn, the responsibility of being a caregiver went beyond the daily tasks. “I think the thing that makes caregiving so hard is that you are walking this path of deep pain and uncertainty with the closest person in your life and always wish you could do more to change things for them.”

Throughout the process, Caitlyn was assigned a mentor through the NMDP Peer Connect program who had also served as a caregiver for a family member. The encouraging words and advice had an impact on Caitlyn. “I remember my mentor said, ‘it will be the hardest thing you ever do, but you will do it.’”

Caitlyn and Meghan plugged into each other and found little ways to incorporate peace and even humor into the long days during recovery, reminiscing about their past adventures and dreaming about new ones. “Once I started gaining my health and strength back, I felt powerful, hopeful, and accomplished. I revel in the gift of life. My transplant journey and my recovery made me feel capable of almost anything,” said Meghan.

Meghan and her sister Caitlyn are thankful for the tremendous amount of support they received throughout Meghan’s transplant journey. “You can never anticipate how abruptly and profoundly your life may change. The people and organizations who show up for you during those times of painful change will forever be your heroes. For us, those people include Meghan’s doctors, nurses, donor and NMDP. NMDP gives everyday people the amazing opportunity to become those heroes.”  

The sisters will embark on a new adventure together by participating in an NMDP Cycle ride, which helps deliver hope to patients on their transplant journey, raise critical funds, and build public awareness of NMDP.

Join us for a cycling adventure that can change your life and help save someone else’s. You can choose from six exciting, brand-new bike tours with varying levels of difficulty and length. Explore the routes, support Meghan and Caitlyn's rides or sign up to join us for a life-saving ride.

Register to ride