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This is a pretty personal post, one that I don’t often make. It is also a call for help to my readers and my friends out there. This past year has been a difficult one. Last summer one of my oldest friends in the world, who is married to my other oldest & dearest friend, was diagnosed with lymphoma. This came on the heels of his mother-in-law dying from liver cancer.
I was in the hospital to just be there for them soon after the initial diagnosis. I cried for my best friend who had just lost her mom and was now faced with the prospect of losing her husband too. I hugged her tightly and told her that he was going to be fine, because a world in which my friend Mike is not in it… well that is a world with a little less laughter and fun. Plus how cruel.
Mike made it through the initial round of chemo and got his lymphoma into remission. Then came the meetings with more doctors and whether or not he should move forward with a bone marrow transplant. After much thought and consulting they decided to go forward, as it is his best chance of survival. His first step is an autologous stem cell transplant where they use his own stem cells to replace his broken bone marrow. If that doesn’t work then he will need a donor.
I’ve always wanted to be on the registry, but I’m not exactly the best blood donor around. I’ve made nurses cry from the effort involved. So talking myself into giving up a vial or two of blood was not exactly my favorite prospect. Well it is no longer necessary to give blood in order to be tested and get on the bone marrow registry. All it takes is four simple swabs from the inside of your mouth and you can do it from the privacy of your own home.
I ordered my kit (for free) from the National Marrow Donor Program and it arrived just a few days later. It took me all of 5 minutes to do and then I popped it back in the mail. I didn’t do it with any expectation of being a match for my friend, more of a pay it forward type of thing.
Last weekend we got together for dinner and our kids played together. We chatted about old times, shared some great food, and talked about the future. Underneath it all I could see the toll it is taking on Mike as he prepares for this next step. His boys are 6 and 3. I watched my friend Michelle, always the planner, trying so hard not to let the lack of a concrete schedule bother her. I hope that my promise to her is fulfilled and we continue to get together for many years & many more dinners. He enters the hospital next week and will be there for about 4 weeks.
Please help me to pay it forward and take a few minutes today to order a testing kit. Be the Match for those who don’t have one yet. Thank you!