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Heather Griles Oliver was recently diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. She entered the ER in the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, on June 26, 2023, just days after receiving the heavy news to start chemotherapy. She is a single working mother of two and will need financial support for assistance with medical and living expenses as she undergoes intensive treatment for at least the next 2 years.

A native of Fredericksburg, VA, Heather is beloved by many who remember her as our high school class clown and she has truly never met a stranger. She has lived in Texas since  graduating from the College of Charleston in 1996 where she is raising her daughter and son, Liza and Porter, in San Antonio. Heather has a full-time job but will be unable to work while she is at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is about 4 hours from her home. Any donation amount will help to offset some of the burden of these circumstances and allow her to focus on healing.

The MD Anderson Cancer is a top-notch facility, and we know that Heather has strength and lots of love from family and friends. Please keep Heather and her family in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery and spread the word about this donation option!

P.S. We are grateful for Givetaxfree.org for hosting this campaign. Please be advised that if you make an online donation, a suggested percentage fee is added on to contribute towards the site operation. This fee is adjustable to any or no dollar amount.

Update 2/6/24, From Heather: I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! Given last year’s health issues, my holidays were fantastic! We have been busy with college applications, FAFSA delays and my son turning 18.

My apologies for this delay but, I wanted to provide an update on my amazing progress. I go to MD Anderson in Houston for one whole day each month. When I go, I get bloodwork, bone marrow biopsies, and lumbar punctures, give or take. At the last two visits to MD Anderson my blood work has shown (or not shown!) that my leukemia is undetectable! My doctor told me that normally this takes six months of chemo however, I did it in three months! My body responded to the chemotherapy treatments very well and I’m so happy for that. As of now, I am finished with my monthly chemo treatments. It will now just continue with my daily chemo pill. Although my “numbers” are still low because of the chemotherapy I received they are moving in the right direction. What a blessing it was to hear that. Because the leukemia will be with me for life, I will continue with the Ponatinib (chemo pill) and continue my monthly visits to MD Anderson. My blood will continue to be monitored every two weeks here in San Antonio. In addition to my monthly Houston visits. If/when need be, I will receive supplemental chemotherapy/lumbar puncture treatments.

I wanted to thank everyone who’s contributed to this fund. It has paid for the travel and hotel stays in Houston. It has helped me pay for groceries and bills when I was unable to work. This has been a complete lifesaver for me. All of the travel and hotel stays, would not be feasible without these generous donations. They are just not in my budget, sadly. There is no way to express my gratitude! Simply said, I wouldn’t be able to do it without the financial help that I have received and continue to receive. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!!

I encourage everyone who is able to give the gift of life; donate blood and platelets. It is truly lifesaving. I am a living example of that!!

I hope everyone reading this is living their best life and enjoying the everyday, simple joys of life. Don’t ever take them for granted. 
Viva la vida!
Remember: Be Here Now.

Update 1/12/24: Happy 2024 and hoping that the new year finds you all well! I’ve rearranged these posts so that you will find the most recent updates at the top. A message from Heather will be coming soon. Before that, I hope you all will consider making another donation for 2024. Fortunately Heather has health insurance but her deductible and copays will add up, receiving frequent medical care like she is. Thanks everyone for supporting Heather!

Update 11/29/23, From Heather: I wanted to send a personal update for everyone during this holiday season. First of all, I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving! It’s finally gotten chilly here in Texas, so it finally feels like fall. Lol.

As Taylor’s last post indicated, I was afforded some fantastic news! My leukemia was “undetectable”, which is a huge relief for me and my family and of course a major mile stone in my recovery. (Un)fortunately all that chemo, that saved my life, killed my hair, so I had to cut it very very short. I know it will grow back healthy just like my body has. This is a new beginning for me in many ways!

I was looking back through the history of these updates. What an extraordinary summer this was for me. But the fact is, many people had their own extraordinary summers. From moving homes to knee surgeries to the passing of friends or family. All of those things that life brings us. I hate to dwell on my situation as thoughts and prayers are being spread in all directions.

Scrolling through the names of all those who donated to my cause is absolutely amazing! Familiar names, some of which I haven’t seen in a long time, but also unfamiliar names of people I hardly know. The kindness, prayers and generosity from everyone has been a continued blessing through this entire journey, and I know it has helped with my healing. Again I want to thank everybody! Happy holidays to everyone,  Merry Christmas and happy new year.

Update 11/21/23:  It’s been a little while but we’ve got great news to share. Heather’s doctor in Houston let her know on November 14th that her cancer is undetectable. Wahoo!

Unfortunately this isn’t the end of her weekly blood tests and possible transfusions, but it is a HUGE milestone. Heather started back at work almost two months ago, which has been great but also a lot of effort. A big shout out to her employer for allowing her some flexibility to be able to focus on healing! Now she’s starting to deal with some hair loss, which she said ‘makes me look like a cancer patient’. I reminded her that she is a cancer patient, lol. Just goes to show how much attitude can factor large in life, and Heather has the right attitude for beating this cancer. Thank you all for supporting Heather!

Update 10/9/23, From Heather: “What a long, strange trip it’s been…”

Greetings from San Antonio! So, I am trying to keep everyone updated on everything going on with me regarding this thing people shorten to CML, but I am discovering I am not that good at it. LOL. The good thing is I have been staying busy to prepare to go back to work, which I did October 2!! Big shout out to my awesome boss, Dave Ball. I couldn’t have done it without him! New products, new inventory/Salesforce system, UGH….it was a hot, tough week of (re)learning but I am so glad to be back!

I continue to get my blood tested often, but so far, no infusions this round. However, my white blood cells continue to drop. Low WBC numbers will make it unlikely for me to start my third round of full-on chemo. I go back to MD Anderson this Friday (the 13th ) I’m always finding out more about what to expect, as far as treatment goes, and feel assured each time I go.

This cancer thing is a logistical nightmare, but I realize how blessed I am to have the help and love from friends and family! Thank you to everyone who has donated to my cause!!! It has helped me immeasurably during this terrible time of not being able to work whilst trying to live a normal life as a mom, caregiver, and college applicant tutor and gung ho traveling salesperson. I am so lucky to be here.

PSA: Get your bloodwork done at least once a year! It may save your life, as it did mine. AND Give blood, if able.

Peace and love,


Viva La Vida!

Remember, Be Here Now

Update 9/18/23, From Heather: I am sorry it has been so long for an update, but I wanted (and waited) to get through my second phase of treatment so that I could report on how I felt. Again, big thanks to everyone who has written letters, sent prayers, and of course donated to help me out!

The last time I posted an update, I had just completed my first round of full-on chemotherapy and had just been released from the hospital. The next two weeks were spent in outpatient care in Houston, which consisted of full days at MD Anderson for blood draws, doctor visits, two blood transfusions and another bone marrow biopsy. It was a rough two weeks, physically (no energy, out of breath a lot, chronic headaches, among other unmentionables).

I returned to San Antonio and have continued treatment here. Based on my blood draws, I was unable to begin my second round of treatment in late August. It took about four weeks but finally my platelet level was elevated enough to start my second round of full-on chemo. I spent two hours every day for a week in the crowded chemotherapy room. I saw many people much worse off than myself. I pray for them daily. Again, I am one of the lucky ones!

I completed that round yesterday and so far, I feel great! Of course, I will get blood drawn tomorrow to see where my “numbers” are and if need be, I will get another transfusion. And so it will go each month until my doctor indicates whether I will need a stem cell transplant. Now my day-to-day duties are flushing PICC lines, sorting medicines, refilling prescriptions, doctor visits, applying for grants/loans, yoga and everyday life with a high school senior. Applying to colleges is a pain, but as I tell Porter, at least he doesn’t have to fill out paper applications like we had to! Common App, what!?

I am anxious to return to work October 2nd, hopefully feeling as good as I feel today. I know that I have been so lucky! I have now started to realize that I dodged a bullet. It is crazy how life can flip overnight. I’m blessed that I got to the MD Anderson emergency room when I did!! Blessed for that care I am getting from all my doctors in San Antonio and Houston and if I need a transplant, Berkley is a perfect match!! (Thanks BigGuy!!) I’m blessed to have such a loving family and friends. I appreciate all of you!

Talk soon, Heather

Viva La Vida!

Remember: Be Here Now

Update 9/4/23: Happy Labor Day! Heather made it to Houston and back and is starting to feel more normal, at least as normal as one can feel as a cancer outpatient. Her platelets are too low for the second round of intravenous chemotherapy treatments the doctor wants her to have, so she is in a waiting game until she reaches a count of 50. She continues her three times weekly visits to the blood center in San Antonio with the hope that by this coming Friday she will have the platelet count for the iv treatments to start on Monday the 11th.

There are still plenty of daily pills and possible blood transfusions before then. Heather has not been able to return to work yet. She’s hoping the second round of iv chemotherapy is something that she can tolerate without too many side effects. Thank you for your continued support of Heather! Every donation truly helps her through this difficult time.

Update 8/21/23: A brief update, another week of blood tests and medications, but fortunately Heather did not need any transfusions last week. She will go to her local clinic for more bloodwork tomorrow and then heads back down to Houston for outpatient treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center on Thursday. She has appointments scheduled at the hospital all day on Friday.

Lots of love and prayers for continued healing and that the treatments she receives in Houston don’t cause as many awful side effects this time around. Thank you for supporting Heather!

Update 8/14/23: A bit of progress to report this week as all of Heather’s blood tests were showing improvements. This meant that she didn’t need any blood transfusions. She is taking 3 different types of chemotherapy drugs. Unfortunately the clinic where she’s been getting her blood drawn does not have the same delivery system as MD Anderson. So she has been having to have a home health nurse come to her home to clean her PICC line. Because of this not fun situation, she missed out on her extended family’s annual beach vacation, but is hopeful that she can attend next year.

She’s in this three times weekly blood testing routine in San Antonio until the 25th, when she will return to MD Anderson in Houston. On the docket in Houston is another lumbar puncture, which following the initial procedure is when many of the uncomfortable side effects that she’s been battling of late first occurred. Keep Heather and her positive trajectory in your thoughts and thank you for supporting her!

Update 8/7/23, From Heather: Well folks, this outpatient care and the side effects of Heather’s chemo therapy treatments are making for a not so easy journey lately! She has been back and forth between Houston and San Antonio weekly and is starting to receive some care in San Antonio. She has her blood drawn three times a week in order to monitor when she’ll need a blood transfusion, platelets or whatever else she is low on. She has had at least five transfusions to date. Also, Heather is feeling constantly fatigued, sore and she struggles with bouts of brain fog and nausea. Recently, she is having difficulty talking due to other side effects of chemo. The bloodwork results dictate the next steps of her treatment, which makes it difficult for her to anticipate what’s next.

Heather thought that she would be able to return to work on August 14, however this weekly triplet of blood sampling will continue at this point indefinitely. Because of these and the many unknowns and overall discomfort, she will be taking short-term disability from her job so that she can focus on healing and returning to some form of normalcy in the midst of anything but a normal situation. This is definitely an overwhelming time for Heather and unfortunately a common conundrum for the average person who doesn’t have a stockpile of wealth and finds themselves needing near constant medical care. Thank you all for your support and please keep Heather in your prayers!

Update 7/29/23, From Heather: Heather 2.0 is back! Watch out!

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and contributions to get me through this crazy thing they call leukemia.  I would like to lovingly acknowledge Dr. Boyce Oliver for spearheading my entire medical pathway! Also, a big shout out to Taylor Greeenup and Christine Garman for putting this page together on my behalf. It is humbling to say the least.

It has been one CrAzY ride! I went from perfect health (or so I thought) to being in the ICU at MD Anderson Cancer Center overnight, literally. (Another shout out to Nancie Walsh AKA: mom, for getting me there so quickly!!)  For the most part my month at MD Anderson was ok. It was an odd experience to have been propelled to a place where everyone wears masks again and everyone has some sort of cancer.  Not to mention the novelty of PICC lines, marrow biopsies, CT scans and the list goes on. My doctors, nurses and the staff were great! I formed a bond to this place and its people.

One month is still a long time to be in a hospital and for people who know me well; I do not like being cooped up! I am lucky to have been sent books, coloring, games and puzzles to pass my days between blood draws and vital checks. I was blessed to have several visitors as well, which brightened the monotony and reminded me just how fortunate I am. I love you all! I walked the halls often just to “get out”; to the “park” (tall trees in an expansive atrium) and the “aquarium” (which was an array of fish tanks) all indoors of course. I saw young people pushing the elderly in wheelchairs, but I also saw parents pushing teenagers and young adults. MD Anderson is a sobering place literally and figuratively. Humility and humanity go hand in hand here. I had good days and bad days, as to be expected, but I know that I am one of the lucky ones. In my mind, complaining is a waste of energy. So, I move forward with a positive approach and a can-do spirit. All the letters, texts and calls I know have helped me heal as well! A sincere thank you to you all!!!!

As far as my prognosis goes, it is as good as it gets with chronic myeloid leukemia. My numbers are going in the right direction, I’m staying healthy, positive and I am young. All important factors for recovery. It doesn’t hurt to be in, arguably, the best cancer center in the world. In three to six months my doctors will determine if a stem cell transplant will be necessary. I’m hoping not, but if it is the best path, I will take it! Only time and persistence will tell.

In a couple of weeks Porter starts his senior year with a dream of attending Baylor University. Liza will be dreamily traveling our beautiful country, happily. I will start back to work as well with monthly visits to MD Anderson. And then life will go on as usual, just with leukemia.

We will continue to update this page until my “journey” is complete. Again, thank you to everyone who has donated! I have not even wrapped my head around medical bills, but each contribution helps me!! I am eternally grateful!

Talk soon, Heather

Viva la Vida!

Update 7/21/23: Well folks, it’s been quite the week for Heather. On Monday, she had a lumbar puncture, which involved removing spinal fluid and injecting chemotherapy. She has been placed on blood pressure medication to address recently elevated levels. She was also told that she will need a stem cell transplant for her bone marrow in a few months, which will involve staying in a hospital bed for a month. Her body has decided that chemotherapy is a real headache and unfortunately, she has been battling a migraine since at least Tuesday and yesterday tinnitus came to visit. To top it all off this morning, she had another bone marrow biopsy under sedation. Please send some healing and comforting thoughts Heather’s way; our girl just needs a break!

Now for some good news, Heather got to leave the hospital and is considered outpatient starting today, yay! She is heading home for the first time since all this started for a couple nights and will return to Houston on Sunday. She will have two more weeks of treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and can then go home on August 4th. Let’s hope that Heather has a safe weekend in San Antonio and that

Update 7/14/23: Heather’s last day of IV chemotherapy for this first cycle was on July 11. She is now taking it in pill form. Her doctor hopes that she will be in remission by the time she is discharged at the end of the month. Lots of love and prayers that is the case and oh how cancer treatment has progressed since the decoding of the human genome! Heather has been confirmed to have the genetic mutation termed Philadelphia Syndrome, which is often the case with chronic myeloid leukemia.

Next week will be a very important week for Heather. They will be doing even more testing than her normal daily and evening rounds, including taking another bone marrow sample – ouch. She is weathering her time in the hospital rather well and has been having family and a few close friends visit. Thank you everyone for continuing to keep Heather in your thoughts and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

7/6/23 Update: Here’s some more information on timelines today. Heather will be in-patient at the MD Anderson Cancer Center until July 30 now. The doctor has decided not to have her do any treatments outpatient this first go round. After this, she can return home to San Antonio for about a month before the first of the 24 cycles of treatment starts. She is in good spirits though, responding when I asked her how she was doing yesterday – “I feel great, but they keep telling me I have leukemia?!?!!” She’s basically at the starting line of this journey but in it for the long haul. Hope everyone had an enjoyable 4th of July holiday!

6/30/23 Update: Great news! Heather’s white blood cell count has lowered from the recent dangerously high level and she has been moved out of the ICU and into a regular hospital room. She has gotten diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia and is being cared for by Dr. Haddad. The doctor believes her leukemia was caught between the late stage of accelerated and early blastic stage of the leukemia. Because of this, her chances of knocking the leukemia into remission are extremely good.

She is enrolled in a clinical trial at the MD Anderson Center led by Dr. Hagop M. Kantarjian, a leading researcher in leukemia. The first cycle of treatment requires four weeks of treatment in the hospital. Following this first 4-weeks of treatment, the doctor has indicated that Heather will need at least 24 additional cycles of treatment (28 days in a cycle). Each cycle will require her to travel to Houston at least one day to see her doctor for the clinical trial and to receive 5 days of IV chemotherapy.

This is wonderful news; thank you to everyone who has reached out to express their love and concern for HGO! Heather is feeling the love and a lot of relief to have a road map for this cancer journey. However, we’re just at the beginning. Please continue to help spread the word about this campaign. Two years of intensive cancer treatments and likely a lifetime of specialized medication will not be inexpensive.



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