Leukemia diagnosis brings survivor, daughter closer than ever

Dana MacFarlane may have been the one who received a leukemia diagnosis, but she’s certain every one of her family members suffered just as much during her treatment. Still, she chooses to see the good that’s come out of her journey. “I’m closer to everyone in my family due to this cancer,” she says. That’s been especially true for her relationship with her oldest daughter, professional pole vaulter Demi Payne. “We’ve always been close, but now there’s just a different type of closeness,” Demi says. Dana, 48, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in July 2017. Her husband Craig needed to return to East Texas to work and care for their two teenage daughters, Blake and MacKenzie, so Demi, 26, paused her training for the 2020 Olympic Team Trials to care for her mother. “As much as she says she needed me to be with her, I need to be here with her just the same amount,” says Demi. “My mom has always been that person for me — she was always pushing me to succeed and always so encouraging to me, and it was awesome that I got to stay here for two weeks and be that for her.” Reasons to smile during stem cell transplant recovery Dana underwent a stem cell transplant on Nov. 1, 2017. During her recovery, Demi cheered up her mom by snapping silly pictures and videos, and sharing them with the thousands of friends and supporters who follow her on social media. “She’d come and crawl in bed with me, and she’s like, ‘C’mon, Mama, we need to take a selfie!’ So we’d...