As an avid magazine reader, there is often nothing better than a mailbox full of them, filled with knowledge, insight and also fun ideas and concepts. With that being said, on a quarterly basis, arriving usually midway through each season, Real Woman Magazine, the publication produced by a local hospital in NJ – Capital Health arrives in my mailbox. Many of the stories published hit home, as they are told by residents from my hometown, or close by. Though, the Summer issue, delivered yesterday to me, is one filled with some of the most powerful/impactful messages, yet.
On the sixth page of the magazine, the monthly publisher’s note appeared, written by Kate Stier, the Director of Public Relations & Marketing for Capital Health. The title of her letter was simply – The Perfect Match. At first glance, one might think it had to do with romance of some sort, but one sentence in, one would learn is of the complete contrary. Having joined the national database of bone marrow and stem cells entitled, Be the Match many years prior, Kate had never been anyone’s “perfect match,” until recently. Losing both her nephew and father tragically to cancer, Kate personally knew of the devastation, heartache and loss associated with cancer; from the diagnosis, the treatments and ultimately, her loved one’s losing battle.
The call came and much to Kate’s surprise and delight, proved to be a perfect match to the recipient – a 48-year-old woman battling the same cancer which took the life of her nephew at the tender age of 7 – Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). This story, in particular, hits home to me, as my own maternal grandmother passed away from AML at age 64, shortly following my 9th birthday. From October 1996 to May 1997, my family and I watched my grandmother, a sophisticated woman who never once was seen without lipstick, heels and stylish clothes, battled the disease as intensely as she could. If our love and in particular, my mom’s, could have saved her, it surely would have.
Though, because of Kate’sgenerosity and selflessness, this particular 48-year-old woman, is given another chance at health and life, receiving Kate’sbone marrow through the donation process. Coincidentally, Kate’s donation took place on July 16, just one day prior to her late father’s birthday.
Towards the end of 2018, having read much about bone marrow and stem cell donations, clicking on and off the official Be the Match website (bethematch.org), I ultimately took the leap and submitted my application for processing. Within weeks, I received my official donor kit, instructing me to take numerous cheek swabs to submit for processing. It was a quick and easy process and I could feel my heart intensely beating, realizing that through this swab and further testing, I could potentially save a child or adult’s life. Through donating, a child or adult’s grave diagnosis could take a turn for the better, giving them the chance to heal and a newfound chance to lead a fulfilling life free of their diagnosis.
Weeks following my cheek swab submission, tissue typing was completed within their lab, and I received the email certifying I was officially added to the Be the Match Registry and would receive my donor identification card shortly in the mail. After receiving the card as you can see below, I proudly placed in my wallet, honored to have the chance to potentially donate to someone in need. How incredible I felt to have the chance to make a difference and though there is the chance I may never receive the call to donate or pass the intense health screenings, to me, it a comfort knowing I can at least try or make the concerted effort.
Physically donating or joining the Be the Match Registrymay not be for everyone and that is okay. There are plenty of other ways to show support or donate, through monetary donations, spreading the word publicly or even through hosting a registry drive within a local community. Albeit, there is no “wrong” way to donate or show support. The process of me deciding to join the registry, myself, was not a quick or simple one. After closely reading and absorbing all the information provided on bethematch.org, I read about some of the stories of the children and adults affected by the cancers that are able to be treated through bone marrow and stem cell donation. Reading their stories and even personally experiencing the pain and loss of cancer in my own family, I knew joining the registry was the right choice for me.
It can be challenging to go through life wondering if I’m making a difference or doing what I can to make an impact in peoples’ lives. So often, I can become lost, berating myself for not achieving all the goals I set for myself over the years, so for me, joining the registry is a way to reach out to others; to let hem know there is someone out there who truly wants to help. More importantly, I think about my own family, friends and neighbors. Life is never promised to us and if the situation were reversed, I’d want someone to be out there willing to do the same for me; do for others what you’d want done for yourself and/or your loved ones.
This post has been a longtime coming, but thanks in part to Kate’s story in the latest issue of Real Woman Magazine, I felt compelled to share my experience, as I patiently wait for the call as a potential donor.
Donate what you can; whether it is yourtime, acknowledgement, awareness, bone marrow/stem cells; ALL of it makes a difference.