The Gift of a Lifetime
In June 2016, Natalie Nojaim, a 16-year human resources team member with FedEx Office, had her world turned upside down. While on a family vacation in Mexico, Natalie became very sick, unable to catch her breath and lightheaded. A trip to a Mexico tourist hospital revealed her red blood cells and platelets were dangerously low. Leaving her family behind, Natalie rushed home to Arizona where she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a disease commonly found in children. She began induction chemotherapy immediately.
In addition to chemotherapy and radiation, Natalie also needed a bone marrow transplant. Enter Josh, an anonymous donor who was a perfect match for Natalie. She had a successful transplant procedure in October 2016, but could not have physical contact with Josh for a year following, due to health reasons and donor company policies.
Fast forward to March 6, 2018, when Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family show aired, featuring Natalie and Josh’s heartwarming and emotional introduction. We asked Natalie about meeting Josh and her journey battling cancer.
FedEx: Can you share your reaction learning you had leukemia and your journey so far?
Natalie: Any cancer diagnosis stops you in your tracks and forces you to re-evaluate what is most important in life. My family, friends and I were extremely shocked and in a state of disbelief when we heard the diagnosis. I was only 42 years-old, ate well, exercised and was rarely sick. How could this happen? To this day, I still don’t know how I developed cancer. When I look back on my journey, I can’t believe all that I went through battling this disease.
FedEx: How did you feel when Hallmark Channel contacted you to share your story?
Natalie: I was so excited when I found out about the opportunity to capture this special moment on national television and be able to share our amazing story with others. I hope the viewers are inspired and motivated to be bone marrow donors so they can also save a life.
FedEx: Describe meeting Josh for the first time. Did you communicate previously before meeting each other and will you stay in contact with him?
Natalie: Josh and I only communicated via email and text prior to our in-person meeting on Home and Family. On the show, I was almost in a state of disbelief that I was finally going to meet the person who saved my life. That moment will forever be etched in my mind. Yes, I plan to stay in contact with Josh. He is forever a part of me and keeps me alive every day!
FedEx: What does Josh’s donation mean to you?
Natalie: Josh gave me the ultimate gift – the gift of life – the ability to continue being a daughter, a wife and most importantly a mom to my two, beautiful, young children.
FedEx: How has this entire experience (battling cancer and the Home and Family segment) changed you?
Natalie: Through this journey, I realized a strength I didn’t know I had and became focused on dedicating my life and time to what’s most important; my family, friends and giving back to the community to support other cancer patients and their families. Every day I wake up, blessed to live another day.