Dominick Folbrecht, leukemia survivor
When he was first diagnosed with leukemia at age 9, Dominick just wanted to get well, so he could play sports again.
Little did he know how much his life would change, or how profoundly he would affect so many other lives.
The first round of treatment worked for awhile, but the cancer returned a few years later. Now 13, Dominick, who had an unstable family situation, found himself all alone in a City of Hope hospital room, in need of a bone marrow donor.
That's when everything changed.
Staff psychologist Jeanelle Folbrecht, Ph.D., heard about Dominick's lonely battle.
“After reviewing his case and talking to those providing care for him, I realized he didn't need a psychologist,” said Jeanelle. “He needed a mom.”
And now he has one. And a dad. And two brothers.
The Folbrechts, who'd been thinking about adoption for some time, brought Dominick into their family. They consider him a gift that God dropped into their laps.
But even more gifts were coming.
Two months after going to live with the Folbrechts, Dominick received his transplant from an anonymous donor. Now his cancer is in remission. And that donor is anonymous no longer.
Vanessa Brobbey was just 19 when her life crossed paths with Dominick's. Before that she'd been drifting and depressed, a recent high school grad, working odd jobs, not knowing what to do with her life.
“Up until I donated, I honestly believed that I was useless and then, all of sudden, I get an email from the donor center,” she said. “At that moment, I felt like, my purpose in life is to help people. It’s reassurance that this is what I’m supposed to do – become a pediatric nurse."
They finally met at the recent City of Hope bone marrow transplantation reunion.
“We were unrelated and now my blood is inside of yours and we’re somehow related,” she told Dominick. “I have a new little brother. It’s amazing. I love it.”
Dominick’s response was a broad smile and one word: “Cool.”