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Spring 2002
Why I Give
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"It was very abnormal-looking," Moell says. It could be any number of things, her doctor told her. The only way she could know for sure was to be diagnosed at UCLA.

So, on the morning of December 1, 1982, the Moells drove to Westwood. The verdict came late that day. "Joe and I were among the last people still in the waiting room," Moell recalls. "The two doctors, a woman and a man, called us to the exam room. There was a look of utter seriousness on their faces — yet I could sense compassion at the same time. I knew right away that they did not have good news."

"Sorry," one of the doctors said, "We don't know you very well but we have to tell you — you have leukemia."

Acute myelogenous leukemia, to be specific, a cancer that wreaks havoc in the bone marrow's production of the myeloid blood cells responsible for fighting infection and repairing damaged tissue. Without skilled medical treatment, it was an almost certain death sentence.

Moell's doctor urged her to return to UCLA rather than put her life into the hands of local physicians who had little experience with leukemia.

"That's where you have the best chance," he told her, "where you're going to get the best treatment."

She spent nearly six months undergoing intensive treatment at UCLA Medical Center. A few weeks into her stay, she progressed to remission, a state in which the cancer, while not necessarily gone, is no longer visible.

"My reward for being in remission," Moell jokes, "was getting high — dose chemotherapy." She underwent three rounds of a regimen of powerful drugs that beat back her cancer but also put her at high risk for life-threatening infections, hemorrhage and fever.

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