Monday, September 12, 2011

Save a Life, Be the Match: September is National Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month

As the month of September brings leukemia and lymphoma to the forefront, it seems to be a great time to bring more awareness and understanding to these diseases. Last September it would never have occurred to me to even attempt to bring any sort of awareness to leukemia. Up until seven months ago, the only two health-related issues that I have ever tried to bring any awareness to were ovarian tumors; and the devastating side effects that can occur from a class of antibiotics called floroquinolones. (Cipro, Avelox and Levaquin) The reason for this is simple; I had previous personal experiences with them both. Now that I have leukemia, I find myself bringing awareness to blood and bone marrow cancers, too. It is funny how life has the ability to change your direction and to help remind you of what is and what is not important.

I understand how we, as human beings, often only relate to our own personal experiences and struggles. We can easily become self-absorbed in our own little worlds and often forget how we can make a huge difference in the life of someone else. Between our friends, family and careers, not to mention Angry Birds and Facebook, we all have so much on our plate that we often forget to stop and smell the roses. We often forget to be grateful for our blessings and don’t always realize just how quickly our lives’ can change. How quickly our blessings can change and become our challenges.

It is often change that wakes us up, slaps us in the face and makes us realize that we could have and should have done more; when we were able. I DID donate blood from the time I was seventeen, until I had ovarian tumors and they no longer wanted it. I often gave donations to others that were “running” for a cause, but could have done, and given more. Maybe next year, I will be up to running for my own cancer; Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, and will be able to give back to the organizations that have helped me; namely Destination Access.  I always had the intention of becoming a bone marrow donor and joining “Be the Match,” but never did. Now it is too late, maybe it is a blessing in disguise.

For those of you that are able, please consider donating blood and joining “Be the Match.”  I do not need a bone marrow transplant at this time, but I have needed blood. There are still thousands of people; many, many of them children, just waiting for someone to be their match. You may have the power to literally save a life; literally.

 Since being diagnosed with leukemia seven months ago, I have seen so many sick children; all of them have helpless, desperate parents praying for someone to save their child. They are doing everything that they can and their very last hope is often a stranger; a stranger that may have the ability to save their child’s life. These are the most difficult patients that I have come in contact with.  As much as I wish I didn’t have leukemia, I feel so fortunate to have lived 52 years without it. The children with leukemia just break my heart.

I've come a long way in 7 months!
Just think how good you would feel knowing that you actually saved a persons’ life. That person is someone’s child, spouse, sister, brother, mother or father; that person matters to someone and your bone marrow may give them the opportunity to continue to matter; to continue to live.  I cannot think of a more gratifying way to give back to the universe, to give back to a fellow human being. 10,000 patients need a transplant; 5,000 receive one. Who knows, someday I may need one myself. I do not have an eligible sibling so I would have to hope and pray for someone, known or unknown to me to be my match.

I never know where my ramblings may go, and this was not the direction that I had intended on going, so I suppose it is now time to exit my soap box and attempt to express my original thought on National Leukemia and Lymphoma Month, later this week. Thank goodness it lasts and entire month; maybe by the end of the month, I will manage to pin point, my point, and to get my point across!

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