I took this picture on Saturday as I was driving home from Michelle Maykin's memorial service in San Jose.
I find myself looking up towards the sky more frequently when people I knew have passed away. So while I was stopped at a red light I pointed my camera out of my car window and quickly snapped this picture. I didn't even have time to look at it until I got home. I think it captured the way I see Michelle perfectly... A bright and beautiful light that will shine brightly forever.
I have to admit it felt a little odd to go to the memorial of someone I didn't actually meet in person but I, as did many others, got to know Michelle by following her blog during her battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. And I was overwhelmed when after messaging with her husband Van following Tami's diagnosis, Michelle offered to speak to Tami if she had any questions about the transplant process, particularly at The Hutch, as that is where she had received her double cord transplant last fall. The fact that she was reaching out to help Tami even as her own transplant failed and she had relapsed just a week before... Well to me that said it all about what kind of giving person Michelle was.
I know the sadness of everyone who had the privilege of knowing Michelle is profound. At her memorial I learned she was a prefect daughter, grand daughter, sister, wife, auntie and friend. She had a wonderful sense of humor as evidenced by the "rap" her sisters wrote and performed to honor her at her memorial. She was a go getter who didn't wait for life to happen, she was out there making it happen.
And where I know she and I could have bonded had we ever had the opportunity to meet and become friends? She was also a devoted doggie mom spending hours doting on her pup Marshawn who she would often say was "The Cutest Dog." Well, I think I'd have to agree that Marshawn ties Kitai for the title so we will be making him an honorary Cutest Dog on Kitai's friends' page in honor of Michelle.
To Michelle's family and friends you have my deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies.
Did you know that only 30% of patients in need will find a match within their own family while the remaining 70% will turn to the National Regsitry to seek help from a stranger?
70% of the 6000 people in need here in the U.S. will not find a marrow match in time :(
While Caucasians have an 80% chance of finding a match less then 30% of minorities will.
Part of the reason Michelle was unable to find a marrow donor was because she is of mixed ethnicities. I don't think most people realize how poor the odds of finding a match are for people of 2 or more ethnicities. It's not impossible but much more diffiuclt. In today's day and age it feels un-politically correct to say that ethnicity or the color of your skin matter when everything we've learned about combatting racism is the exact opposite. While that may be true in racism it isn't true about marrow donation. The National Registry URGENTLY needs more people of minority ethnicities and more people of Caucasian ethnic groups to join as well.
To learn more about why and how to join the National Marrow Donor Program please visit www.BeTheMatch.org.
Or visit the website I built for my cousin Tami at www.HelpingTami.org.