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A Small Sacrifice

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Are you a bone marrow donor?

If you are in good health, you should be. It could literally save someone’s life. Donors are always needed, especially for under-represented races such as African Americans and Latinos. And matches are more common within the same race.

I registered to be a donor as a college student but did not become a match until I was almost 40. I donated stem cells in November to a 12 year-old girl with leukemia. To date, she has engrafted- my cells are now working in her body. We still won’t know the outcome for some time, but this is promising.

There are two ways to donate: bone marrow extraction (surgical) and PBSC (non surgical). It is an easy procedure for the donor and such a small sacrifice with a big return. I had some discomfort from the medication that I took for five days leading up to the actual donation (like the flu); other than that, it was painless.

When I received the letter saying that I was a possible match, my eyes teared up. There was no question as to whether I would do it. To be a match to a non-relative is a miracle. And I thought of my children- what if they needed marrow, blood, an organ and I couldn’t give it to them? What if their life depended on the compassion of a stranger? I would hope that someone could answer my prayer.

Register now at http://www.marrow.org.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Family, Health, Race

 

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Good News!

stem_cell_fig1I just received an update regarding my stem cell recipient. She has engrafted (my cells are making new, healthy cells for her), is recovering well and should be discharged from the hospital soon. She has experienced some level of graft versus host disease – initial incompatability of her cells and mine- but this was anticipated.

This has made my 2013 that much better! Keep her in your thoughts and prayers so that she keeps healing!

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Girls, Health

 

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Final Injection and Donation Day

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It was successful. I am on my way home and my stem cells are on the way to the recipient; I was there when the courier picked up the cooler. She has had chemo for the past six days in preparation and will undergo this procedure tonight or tomorrow.

My nurse and coordinator, The Sarahs, remarked about how great I was and didn’t complain. Honestly, it was uncomfortable and I was still feeling the effects of the filagrastim. But, I powered through because I knew it was only a fraction of what life must be like for a 12 year-old girl who was somewhere waiting for my stem cells. We all got a little teary before I left.

That’s all for today, I’m drained. Stay tuned…

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Family, Health, Reflection, Youth

 

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Day Three: Filagrastim

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I did not go out last night. I thought I could do something light like dinner and a movie…NOT!

A pulsating dull ache awakened me during the night, so I’m tired. Thankfully a friend with a four year-old son had mercy on me and just picked up my son. I decided to eat cereal before the injection in case I lose my appetite.

Because I was more achy yesterday,my daughter went on a CVS run to get heated strips for my back and neck. Tylenol may as well be a placebo, but I don’t want a narcotic. Day 3 could be long.

Everyone responds differently to filgrastim: some have no issues at all and others are like me, I guess. There is nothing that I have experienced however that would change my decision to donate. This temporary discomfort is for the best cause.

So I will lie and down and watch Food Network for the day.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Family, Health, Reflection, Single Parenting

 

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Day Two: Filgrastim

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I wake up feeling oogy but feel surprisingly better when I actually get up to fix my son breakfast. I smirk as I recall Sarah’s admonishment to take it easy.

“Let people wait on you. No cooking, dishes or vacuuming.”

After pancakes (microwaveable, thank you God), I fixed sauteed cabbage because it needs to be cooked or it will go bad and I will get my second injection in the next twenty minutes. I don’t know how I’ll feel.

After the injection (there are actually two) my mom finally checks in confirming that she will take Diallo to his inline skating class. Thank you!!!! I grab something for him to put on and go to the car to get his gear. She is running late and wants his stuff on sans skates, of course.

My girlfriend called this morning to check on me. She is in town and has been looking forward to taking me out for my birthday which was celebrated with Hurricane Sandy. Great. I want to go but my body does not. I am hopeful that I can get some rest and at least do dinner and one cocktail.

We’ll see.

 

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Day One: Filgrastim

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So this morning, I had a job interview for which I had to juggle my first injection. Then, I raced across town and up the highway to the NIH campus.

As I was taking the exit, my son’s school called to inform me of his tummy ache. “I can’t reschedule this,” is what I’m thinking; the procedure is Tuesday. Thankfully, he will lay in the nurse’s office until I make it there. I aim for 1:30.

Fast forward to the injection. I get goodies since my early-morning granola bar has long worn off. Sarah and I chat about my interview and weekend plans. She gives me a kit for the nurse to continue injections in my home. I watch an episode of Sex and the City and I am excused.

It’s a good thing I picked him up early. About three hours post injection I am feeling oogy. My bones are achy, I’m tired and cranky. Coupled with my son’s complaints, I thought it would be a long night. However, my daughter and I got cozy to watch a women’s college volleyball match that I dvr’ed (her HS season just ended). Everyone fell asleep by 8:30.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Family, Health, Motherhood, Single Parenting, women

 

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If You Could Save a Life, Would You?

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I’ve been taken aback by the silent answer.

In August, I opened a letter that both excited and humbled me: I was a possible bone marrow match for a 12 year-old girl. If I was still interested in being a donor, I should contact the National Marrow Donor Program immediately.

I registered as a bone marrow donor back in college but had never been asked to donate. Of course, I was going to do it. This was great news! My significant other was here when I got the news and was far less enthused. He was going through some major life changes, so I chalked it up to that.

Since the letter, I have undergone additional blood work to ensure that I was indeed a match. The science requires 9 of 10 markers to be a successful match- initially, I only had 6 of 10. After health screenings, examinations, information sessions and a blood draw, I am a match.

There are two methods for donation: bone marrow exxtraction (surgical) and stem cell (non-surgical). There are pros and cons for each method, mostly for the recipient. Because I have lumbar issues, the health team at NIH decided that I should go with nonsurgical donation. Known as PBSC, this donor method entails being hooked to a machine which takes the blood, removes stem cells and puts it back into the body. It is a 6-8 hour process and requires the donor to stay in bed.

Prior to the donation, I will receive an injection per day (for five days) which will boost my stem cell generation. The initial one is done at NIH so that I can be monitored; the balance (except the final done prior to actual donation) is done at my home/work/site of my choice. Side effects of the injections and donation include joint pain and fatigue. My injections will begin next Friday; donation is scheduled for Nov. 20.

I have only told a handful of people and this is why: I got the “are you crazy” look or dead silence. “Do you even know this person?”

People- did you hear what I said?! This is a little girl’s life! I seriously had to re-evaluate my relationship based on my significant other’s response. My mom isn’t too thrilled either. Are people this selfish? Why yes they are…

Only three people have been positive, supportive and excited. If it were my child or loved one and our family was not a match, I pray someone would be a donor. My coordinator thinks I’m being too harsh: “they’re just concerned for you.” Me thinks she wears rose-colored glasses. 🙂 I guess you would need to in that type of work.

So, wish me and my donor luck! If you pray, say a prayer for a successful donation and for her body to accept it. I’m excited and hopeful.

Save a life. Register to become a donor. For more information, go to http://www.bethematch.org

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Family, Health, Reflection

 

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