I shared this post with you dear readers in September. I’ll wait while you reread. 😉
In late November Marina’s diagnosis shifted from Chronic Myeloid Leukemia to acute or blast phase. She has received a five day round of chemotherapy at New York Presbyterian Hospital and has been infused by a love-fest of friends and family, including her mom buzzing Marina’s hair before it falls out, along with the heads of a couple dear friends! She celebrated her 22nd birthday in the hospital and after weeks of being confined indoors, until her blood counts reached normal ranges, finally there was release day—time to walk NYC and soak in L-I-F-E eat at a yummy restaurant and be free.
Marina has been blessed to be matched for a bone marrow transplant (with fifty potential matches!) to be performed at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston after one more round of chemo and spending Christmas with friends in NYC!
I can’t imagine what this journey is like to undertake with your child but I do know Marina and her wise, wise mom are truly making the best of it with special time spent together as well as deeply connected moments with friends and family. Marina asked all of her friends and family members on her Facebook group to consider becoming a stem cell or bone marrow donor—Sharon shared the following details:
“It's very possible that the necessary stem cells will be harvested from a donor's bloodstream rather than the "old fashioned" way of harvesting from bone marrow.
Stem cells have historically been taken from marrow in an outpatient procedure which is relatively simple, but does require general anesthesia. These stem cells are also in the bloodstream, but in much smaller quantities, so this is why marrow has typically been used. The newer method of taking them from the donor's bloodstream is possible because science has figured out how to prompt the donor's body to generate a bunch of stem cells and spit them out into an IV, much like donating platelets. The benefits include:
1. A much larger quantity of stem cells can be produced and harvested than from marrow.
2. The "engraftment" (the fancy name for when Marina's body grabs on to those new cells and they start cranking out a healthy new immune system for her) happens much more quickly, and much more effectively.
3. For the donor, no anesthesia is required, and no puncture through the hip bone.
The "con" for the donor is that he/she would need to be available for the donation process for 2 to 3 days, vs. for the few hours it would take for the bone marrow procedure. In my opinion, a small inconvenience compared to the risk and recovery of bone marrow harvesting, and the benefits to the recipient, but still, worth noting.
Your choosing to register for the data bank could possibly save a life. It's statistically unlikely that you would match Marina directly, but hey, miracles happen! The docs say it's a simple cheek swab, and that you want to be prepared to be a donor for anyone, not just for Marina. You can imagine the heartbreak a person would go through if they found you as a match and you backed out, so be certain of your willingness before making this decision.”
I’ve registered with Be The Match and ordered my swab kit—I would be honored to give the gift of life for someone facing Marina’s health challenges. What are your thoughts on donating dear reader? Have you had the opportunity? Do you have a loved one who has needed this procedure? I’m curious to hear your thoughts and experiences with this amazing lifesaving technology.
Please keep Marina and her family in your thoughts, prayers, or chats with the Universe—send healing energy and visualize her as a miracle-in-progress. Wishing you and your family precious, precious health and happiness this holiday season.