Joel's Journey

Founded July 2013, Joel’s Kids Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to providing education, advocacy and resources to children and families affected by Leukemia.  Joel’s Kids Foundation wasn’t a simple community service idea formed as a way to give back, but was the silver lining that Joel found during his own journey with the disease. 
 
In June 2013, diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Joel Ratliff had no idea the battle that was about to ensue.  He found, not only, that his life would forever be changed, but that his wife, Nikkia and his family would be strained physically, financially and emotionally by both the disease and the process of pursuing treatment.
 
Joel’s Journey:
 
“I had been experiencing pain in my head, back and body for quite a while and like most would take a periodic visit to the chiropractor hoping for relief.  I noticed, that as time progressed, I felt less relief by my normal massage and adjustment visits.  Knowing nothing about Leukemia, I had no clue that my experiences were symptoms considered to be precursors of the blood disease.  After developing severe headaches and noticing what felt like knots in the back of my head, I decided to see my doctor.  On May 29, 2013, my physician order the blood test that would start my journey.  The Complete Blood Count (CBC) is a standard test used to determine overall health and identify a wide range of disorders.  In my case, the doctor quickly saw an issue.  My white blood count, which should fall in the range of 4,000 to 10,000 cells, was 92,000.  Yes, more than 10 times the highest normal range.

I was shocked because I regularly saw my family doctor and had normal blood work just a few months before.  The doctor knew that this was a sign of the presence of cancer and immediately sent me to the hospital for further testing.  I never left for any significant time for the next 12 months or so…
 
On June 1st , my worst fears were confirmed.  I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  Over the following days, my white cell count escalated to a shocking 186,000.  By the blessing of God, I was immediately transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for aggressive treatment.  At this point, I realized I was on borrowed time. With my life in the balance, my wife lived out the next year trying to maintain stability and security for our children in Arkansas while being present and supportive of me during the most intensive and painful journey of my life.
 
For me, the ending is great.  I received a bone marrow transplant from my sister and today I am a survivor living on 100% of my sister’s DNA. 
 
The bone marrow transplant saved my life.”
 
It is from this journey that the passion for Joel’s Kids Foundation was birthed.