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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are you Kia's Marrow Match?

I learned Kia may need a marrow match on Facebook when a friend posted a link to her blog CaliforniCancerCation, specifically to the post "Looking For My Perfect 10." Kia is a friend of a friend who was explaining to her readers that if the chemo she is currently undergoing fails, she will need a stem cell or bone marrow transplant to beat the Lymphoma that reared its all too ugly head in February. Currently she has no match in the National Marrow Donor Registry.

Her blog side bar reads:
Kia and Therapy Dog Kia
"The hives started two weeks before my trip—the tail end of Februrary—followed very soon after by night sweats, headache, fever and a mystery lump in my groin. I lost my appetite, dropped a couple pounds, moved the bed into the living room and did nothing but watch 3 straight seasons of Grey's Anatomy. (A depressing and foreboding choice, it now seems).

When March 11th rolled around, I somehow managed to scrape myself off the floor-bed and onto a plane for the vacation home I'd set up months before.

My parents—Dad's a doctor, which is helpful—instantly perceived that something was wrong-er than the common cold, and started finagling for blood tests.

By St. Patrick's day I felt like I'd recovered enough energy and stamina to continue in a more vacationy manner, and carried on as planned to San Diego to hang with my best friend.

Whatever was wrong with me, I thought, I'd get the test results and deal with it when I got back to Northampton.

But that's not at all what went down."
Chemo and Coffee
Kia was sitting in an outdoor cafe when she received a confusing voicemail from her aunt. She called her mom to ask if her test results were back. Her mom said no. When Kia pressed her with “Well I just got this message from Aunt Coral about the long and lonely road I’m having to go down, and it sounds like she knows something I don’t” her mom then admitted that they did have the test results back and that Kia had cancer.

Just like that. In one moment the course of her life changed. Chemo began a month later and if things go well it will be enough since currently there is no match for her in the National Marrow Registry if she ultimately needs a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.

What I've learned, and I suspect we all know, is that cancer can strike anyone at any time.

What everybody does not realize is that with some cancers, specifically blood cancers and severe anemias, there is something we can all do to help Kia and patients like her. If you are healthy and between the ages of 18-60 years old you can help.

PBSC Donation

You can be willing to donate your stem cells in a relatively painless method to help one of the thousands of patients in need who, make no mistake, because they've exhausted all other treatments, will die if they don't find a marrow match in time.

If you have a website you can display a web badge and link to Be The Match to help raise awareness about bone marrow donation. Just copy or drag and drop one of the following badge and link to http://BeTheMatch.org. Plus there are more badge options at THIS LINK.

To become a registered marrow donor you only have to fill out a registration form then swab the inside of your mouth with four cotton swabs. The results are entered into the national and international databases. If and when you're determined to be a match you will be contacted by Be The Match, aka the National Marrow Donor Program.

Registering to donate is this easy!

Once contacted you will be asked to undergo additional testing with a doctor in your local area. If you are the best match for a patient in need and you are healthy you will then be given the opportunity to donate and save someone's life.


I've been in the registry since 1995 and have not yet been called upon. I hope I am before I age out at 60!

Want to learn more? Watch and share this video by Be The Match.

As most of you know I became an advocate for Be The Match when my cousin Tami was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer called MDS in 2009 and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. You can read all about her journey from diagnosis, illness and back to health on her website at www.HelpingTami.org.

Photos of Kia are from her blog CaliforniCancerCation with her permission.

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