A Recap of April

So the updates to this site became significantly more sparse during the month of April. That was a result of a few factors:

  • I didn’t host any drives in April, so there weren’t many drive announcements or recaps to highlight.
  • I spent a couple weeks developing the Donation Stories section, which Dennis was so gracious in lending his story to. True story: Dennis was at the hospital a couple weeks ago to donate white blood cells (does his generosity ever stop?) and he was randomly fist-bumped in the hall by a girl who had seen his bone marrow donation video! She was there herself to donate marrow, and said the video really helped her out. 🙂
  • I was pretty burnt out from the end of last month, where I helped coordinate four drives in two weeks (including three in the last week). At times I’m still trying to find a balance between work, Cheekswab, and being 26.

But here we are in May, and it’s been four and a half months since launch, and things are still going strong. While I can’t promise a constant stream of updates into the future, Continue reading “A Recap of April”

Announcing Dennis’ Donation Story and Cheekswab on YouTube

For the past several months I’ve been working on a new section of the site entitled Donation Stories. The purpose of this section is to chronicle the stories of people who have donated marrow in an honest and personal way. I’ve done my best to provide comprehensive information about bone marrow donation on this site — the methods, the logistics and time commitment, and addressing some common questions — but something was missing.

Since I’m unable to personally join the registry for medical reasons, I’ll never know what it’s like mentally and emotionally to go through the process of donating marrow. I can write about the parameters of the time commitment but I don’t know what it’s actually like to sacrifice the time for checkups and blood tests. Up until now, the emotional and mental perspective is what this site has lacked. The Donation Stories section hopes to address that need.

Dennis' Donation Story

I’ve written about Dennis previously in this blog and the fact that he was asked to donate to an anonymous patient in early December. What you didn’t know Continue reading “Announcing Dennis’ Donation Story and Cheekswab on YouTube”

Dennis, Part 2

Dennis’ procedure went well. The procedure itself took an hour and a half or so, and he’s been recovering since. He told the nurse he didn’t need pain meds today, so it sounds as if things are okay. Hopefully he won’t need them tomorrow, but I expect he’ll be very sore for the next couple days.

It’s some sort of amazing serendipity that one of my close friends’ fiances gets called to donate. I grew up with Dennis’ fiance (Melissa) and have known her since early elementary school. Funny anecdote: when he told Melissa that he got the call to donate, her response was, “So you’re going to do it, right?”

They’re a badass couple.

I’m really in awe of what he’s done.


Dennis in Benin
Dennis (left), recently back from his Peace Corps post in Benin, Africa

My friend’s fiance, Dennis, is donating bone marrow tomorrow morning at 6:30am for a 60 year old woman in California whom he’s never met.

He’s undergoing the more invasive marrow donation (through the hip) procedure at Georgetown Hospital.

If you read this, please say a prayer. For the procedure, a speedy and pleasant recovery for Dennis, and the woman in California who needs this transplant and the loved ones affected by her illness.


A Match is Found

The fiance of one of my long time friends got the call a few days ago that he was a match to be a bone marrow donor. He registered for the registry around 2004/2005 in California, didn’t hear anything, went to the Peace Corps in Africa until last year, and was contacted in October 2011 in Washington DC that he was match. Six years later, across the country.

He got a blood test recently to confirm the match.

They’re scheduling his donation for November now. They say he needs to do the hip-based donation versus the PBSC donation, which (I think) usually points to the idea that the recipient is younger, like an infant or toddler. The recipient has acute mylogenous leukemia (AML), the same leukemia that I had. The hip-based donation is the less comfortable of the two, but he’s willing to do it anyway, and even postpone a planned vacation to the UK in order to do so. That speaks to the character and empathy of Dennis.

I’ve asked him if I can be there with him throughout the process, and he’s very graciously accepted my request. I want to learn, I want to document, I want to share his story. I know what it’s like to live with cancer, but I don’t know what it’s like to donate bone marrow. I’ve wondered for a while now what I can do to make the donation process real to others, given my inexperience, and Dennis’ story will be that opportunity.

This will be a life-changing opportunity for him. Seriously life-changing.