Deputy has disease she never heard of — now she needs help

A bone marrow transplant could save 27-year-old Molly Thunder of Snohomish County

MILL CREEK — When Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy Molly Thunder, 27, went to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance on Dec. 10, she had never heard of aplastic anemia.

The disease makes it hard for the body to produce platelets and red and white blood cells. It can cause fatigue, greater risk of infection and uncontrolled bleeding.

It’s also rare, and even rarer for people her age.

The doctor said Thunder had a severe form of the condition.

“It kind of feels like your life has been put on hold,” she told reporters Tuesday.

Her friends in law enforcement are rallying around her. The sheriff’s office is throwing a “Be The Match” registry event Thursday to find a donor. Initial treatment may not be enough — a bone marrow transplant might be the best option long-term.

The event isn’t just about her. Thunder said there are a lot of people who need bone marrow transplants, many of whom are facing more dire circumstances.

At the event, which takes place 3 to 7 p.m. at the sheriff’s south precinct in Mill Creek, participants will get a cheek swab and fill out a medical questionnaire.

Simple as that.

Thunder said she noticed symptoms in November. She was at rifle practice, and the gun felt so heavy in her hands that she could hardly keep it steady. She thought she was just tired.

A few days later, she was at home washing clothes. She couldn’t lift the laundry basket.

She went online to look up her ailment and figured she had an iron deficiency.

When Thunder called a health care provider, she was told to go to the emergency room. Doctors thought it was leukemia at first. It wasn’t until she was transferred to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance that she was diagnosed.

What followed was a series of six blood transfusions, to get her body back up to normal levels. She goes back for twice-weekly checkups to see if she needs more.

Thunder said she feels better. She doesn’t struggle doing laundry anymore. But there may be a time when the transfusions stop working.

She’s also taking prescription drugs that suppress her immune system, allowing blood cells to regenerate. Doctors are hoping the medication will essentially reboot her system, but they won’t know for another couple of months. Even if the plan works, the disease could come back. The more sure fix is the bone marrow transplant.

In the meantime, Thunder has been assigned to light duty. She appreciates the ability to keep her job, but she’s getting restless. She can’t wait to go back on patrol.

“I’m not that much of a couch potato,” she said.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

Be the match

The “Be The Match” registry will take place between 3 and 7 p.m. Thursday at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office south precinct, 15928 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek.