It’s time for a serious conversation

by Lesley on February 5, 2012 · 15 comments

in cancer

It’s time for us to have a serious conversation.

Here it goes.

If you have a healthy body, and if you’re between the ages of 18 to 60, you have both the priviledge and responsibility to donate bone marrow.

Even before Jonathan found out he had cancer, I was a strong believer in donating blood on a regular basis. Then, just a few years ago, I also registered to become a bone marrow donor.

And now that we’re looking cancer in the face, I’m more than just a casual advocate for joining the National Bone Marrow Registry. I’m a 100%, look you in the eye believer who is not really interested in the reasons why you can’t won’t join too. Trust me, I know the excuses and they are lame. (And, I might add, your excuses are probably assumptions that aren’t even accurate. Here are a few myths and facts about a bone marrow donation.)

You never know when someone close to you is going to be diagnosed with a blood cancer. It could be your husband, your son, your brother. It could be your grandpa. It could be your precious infant. It could be your boss, a best friend, a neighbor. It could be a total stranger living in Iowa who just happens to share your exact bone marrow type.

If you are reading this blog, you are now connected to someone affected by a blood cancer. Yup. It happens.

Fortunately, at this time Jonathan does not need a bone marrow transplant. We hope and believe he never will. But, you know what? Should his cancer return, he’d be a candidate. What if he needs a transplant and no one is a match?

And what about all the people who are on a big long list right now, who are getting needles jabbed in their veins each week, and throwing up in the middle of the night, and fearing death because they don’t have a match?

The process to sign up is simple. You just have to request a kit by mail, take a cheek swab, fill out a form or two, and wait. You will likely never get called. But if you should get called, you’d save a life with no monetary cost and very little physical pain to your body. You could even save more than one life!

If you are watching Jonathan’s story unfold, and if you’ve asked yourself, “What can I do to help?” and if you’ve been rocked by the fact that cancer can happen to ANYONE…then you need to step up. Join Be the Match. Leave me a comment with a pledge to do it. Tell your friends to join you.

And, if you are having children, consider donating their cord blood. Just think- a precious newborn could save a life just as their own is starting! (We looked into cord blood donation when Anna was born, but our hospital didn’t participate. I now very much regret not pushing to find a way to bank or donate her cord blood. If we are blessed with more children, we may consider banking their cord blood due to Jonathan’s increased risk.)

So, what are you waiting for? I mean, really, what an honor to give someone years they might never have! I hope I get chosen someday. I hope I can give that gift.

Here are the medical guidelines/eligibility.

Here’s where you get started registering.

Here’s what would happen should you get called to donate.

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14 comments
Lesley
Lesley

Thank you all soooo much for leaving comments. Cami- fun to "meet" you via Katie. Hope to meet you in person at her baby shower later this year.

Jessica Brody
Jessica Brody

Hi Lesley, Thank you for your wonderful post. I am so proud that I am also in the bone marrow registry and will reaffirm that it is SO easy to join. Even if you do get called as a match, what's a very SMALL amount of discomfort in comparison to someone's life? The Brodys are always thinking about you and your family and thank you again for sharing your story. xoxo, Jessie

Cami
Cami

Lesley, I am one of Katie B's friends from Loma Linda. I stumbled across your blog through her and now read it all the time. I just wanted you to know that both my husband and I have signed up to be donors. Blessings on your journey!

Jacqueline
Jacqueline

You have become an inspiration for me to try harder to help where I am able. This is one of those areas and I am now a donor. Thank you Leslie!

Donna Chabrier
Donna Chabrier

Lesley, I didn't know about Jonathan's cancer until reading your blog today -- we've lost touch through "life". I hope he has a full recovery to this healthy self. I registered today to be a donor. Thanks for the prompting, for sharing your story, for being you! Your friend, Donna

Laura Rhoads
Laura Rhoads

Hey Lesley - I have been thinking about doing this for a while, but after reading your post, decided now was the time. Will get Caleb to follow suit. Keeping you all in our prayers!

Jeff
Jeff

Hiya Sis, I think you know I did this a few years ago. I have not been called but I'm ready if and when they do! You're gift to inspire people continues to inspire me.

Nicole
Nicole

I so appreciate your candid conversation about this. I'm also very passionate about donating blood, and unfortunately, due to spinal injuries I'm not a good candidate for marrow donation. I will continue to encourage everyone I know to register, donate blood and contribute to the health and life of others - especially now, with your family in my mind. I pray for healing and a full recovery for your husband and your family.

Ted
Ted

Hi Leslie - I do not know you. I follow your blog and your husband's journey on occasion through "The Jenkins Chronicles". I wish you and your husband all the best. I congratulate you on not being shy about saying it like it is. The truth is, most people don't think about it until it strikes close to home. I have been a donor throughout my life as have many other members of my family. Cancer has touched my personal life on several occasions, so I know from experience what you are talking about. You and your husband will be in my prayers.

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