My Cancer Story

EDIT: July 14, 2010

I just wanted to share this story again because a fellow blogger friend of mine has unfortunately experienced a personal loss due to Leukemia.  I would like to urge everyone that is able, to register with the National Bone Marrow Registry so that maybe more lives could be saved.  While all ethnic backgrounds are welcomed to register, there is always a desperate need for African-American, Caribbean, Asian and multi-ethnic donors since these blood characteristics are harder to match.  To learn more about Leukemia research and other ways to help, please see the Leukemia Research Foundation.  Please read my personal story below….

In January 2003, I received a phone call from the National Bone Marrow Registry. They called to inform me that I was a possible match for someone needing a bone marrow transplant.  This story actually began back in 1999 when I was stationed at Camp Humphreys, South Korea while I was in the Army.

Representatives of the NBMR were conducting a donor drive and I volunteered. All it took was a swab of my cheek.  Knowing that non-familial matching is not that common, I never thought that I would receive “that” call. So after I registered, I went on my way.  I moved twice since I had registered, so when that call came in January ’03, I was astonished and amazed.

I agreed to come in and give a more substantial sample for testing. It was determined that I was, in fact, a match. The bone marrow donation was actually going to happen.  Although most people think of large needles being drilled into the hips of donors to extract the marrow, I donated through a process called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) collection.  I received injections of a drug that boosts blood production, called Filgrastim.  I received the drug for 5-days.  On that 5th day I underwent a process known as Aphaeresis; they draw blood off from one IV, filter out the stem cells and platelets, and then return my red and white cells to me through another IV. The process took about 6 hours.

While the PBSC process was substantially less painful the traditional bone marrow collections, there were some risks.  I have to go once a year to have blood work done to monitor my status. The drug that I was given is called Filgrastum, and it’s a drug given to cancer patients that are going through chemo to boost the red blood cell count so they aren’t as tired.

I had to wait a year, but I found out that the recipient of my bone marrow had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and lived in Guatemala.  To this day he is alive and doing well.

I just want to share my story to encourage others to participate in Sarcastic Gamer’s Extra Life charity event to raise money for childhood cancer research.  I would also like you to check out the National Bone Marrow Registry on how to become a bone marrow donor.  This is especially important for non-Caucasian ethnic groups.  The number of registered donors is low and the registration process is usually free.