Family is the most important thing in the world to Elizabeth Shiple. It’s why she moved from her native Colombia to New Orleans in 2001. It why – when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2015 – her brother didn’t hesitate to volunteer and donate his stem cells for transplantation.
And it’s why she doesn’t make the following claim lightly.
“The team at Tulane Medical Center are part of my family now,” she said. “They are that important to me. They saved my life.”
After her initial diagnosis and referral to the Tulane Blood Cancer Program, a Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network partner, she worried that she would be transferred to M.D. Anderson in Houston, where her brother lives. Being so far from home would have been difficult, she said.
“Dr. Nakhle Saba is one of my angels,” Elizabeth said. “He told me that if I needed to go somewhere else, he’d send me. But he also said we could beat this disease right here. He gave me the strength and confidence I needed.”
Today, Elizabeth is recovering. “I feel great,” she said. “I’m doing things now that I couldn’t do two or three months ago.”
She enjoys walking her dogs and spending time in local parks, but she knows her journey isn’t over. She also knows she won’t make it alone.
“When you go through something like this, you need a lot of people to keep you going,” she said. “Every person there always gives me positive wishes and keeps me going.
“I’m so grateful. I wouldn’t trade Tulane for anything.”