Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Becoming Part of the National Bone Marrow Registry

Over the past four years (since my brother-in-law was diagnosed with lymphoma), I've learned a lot about cancer. I'm no expert by any means, but I have followed many caringbridge sites and have learned how important it is for cancer patients to get the treatment they need. When people are diagnosed with cancer, a treatment plan is set in place for them. For most people, that plan involves chemotherapy. Children like Hailey who have leukemia undergo chemo to get into remission. (Remission does not mean they are cured.) They then continue chemo for a specified amount of time - usually around 2 years for girls and 3 years for boys. When chemo works, the person stays in remission. When it doesn't work, they relapse. For some that relapse, the only real hope for a cure is to undergo a bone marrow transplant.

When it is determined that someone needs a bone marrow transplant, the family of that person is usually tested to see if there are any matches. Sometimes a match will be found, but more often than not, a match won't be found within the family. What this means is that another person must be found to donate the marrow. In order to find that person, a search is done of the National Bone Marrow Registry.

On Monday, I received an email from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. They were letting past participants of the Team In Training program know that there would be a bone marrow registry drive today. I've always wanted to become a part of the registry, but didn't know how to go about doing that. So today at lunch, I went to the drive and I registered. It was very easy. I just filled out some paperwork and took a swab (actually four of them) of the inside of my check and I was done.

Now I just wait. Part of me hopes that I get called at some point. And part of me hopes I don't. It would be great if no one else ever needed a bone marrow transplant, but I know that isn't likely to happen. Since there will be people needing transplants, it would be wonderful to be able to help someone and possibly give them marrow that could save their lives. But that scares me, because I hate needles. With a passion. When I donate blood, I cannot look as they stick the needle in me. I've watched my son get stitches several times, but if it's me the needle is going into....... Let me just say again - I hate needles. But if I can donate marrow to save a life, I will.

After work today I went for my swim. 2,000 meters. The cough has gotten better, but there are still a few times when it acts up. I had to stop a couple of times in the middle of the lap to cough. But it is much improved. When I got home, I ate dinner and did a few things around the house and then hit the treadmill for a 5 mile run. I wanted to get outside and run the race course for the 5K I'll be doing Sunday morning, but that didn't happen. And that's why I have the treadmill.

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