Be the Match

Last year about this very time, I launched what would become a year-long project in 2014 called #selfieforacause. Each day I posted a selfie promoting a non-profit, organization or individual whom I felt was using their voice to be the change they wanted for the world. The project remains active in 2015 under the new leadership of Mary Beth Cowardin.

My first guest poster for the project was my former colleague and wonderfully beautiful friend Karen DeGrace. In her post, Karen shared a little bit of her leukemia story and why she was passionately asking people to become a bone marrow donor through the Be The Match organization.

Just today my testing kit from Be The Match arrived as I was learning from Karen’s husband Dan, that this morning Karen lost her courageous and inspiring battle against leukemia.

#selfieforacause selfie for Karen, to Be The Match

#selfieforacause selfie for Karen, to Be The Match

As a way to honor Karen and all of those who are in need of a bone marrow donor, my wish is that you’ll consider joining the national registry.

Be the change you want for another person. Be the Match!

Below is Karen’s guest post that appeared on August 27, 2014. It’s important to note that as things progressed Karen was not able to have a sibling step in for her second transplant as she had anticipated.

Day 231 – GUEST POSTER – Transplant/Organ Donation Series

Please warmly welcome my beautiful and fiercely brave friend Karen Krsticevic DeGrace. Karen is the very first guest poster for the ‪#‎selfieforacause‬, ‪#‎selfieadventure2014‬ project – thank you Karen. She is a private person and not fond of having her picture taken. Today she puts that aside as she steps into the light to be the change she wants for others and the world. Please share with Karen all of your love and support as my first guest poster and for her ongoing journey. xoxo

From Karen:

Karen promoting Be The Match prior to her second bone marrow transplant 8.27.14

8.27.14 Karen promoting Be The Match prior to her second bone marrow transplant

I was both humbled and honored when Linda asked me to be a guest presenter on her #selfieforacause initiative, and specifically for the request to speak on the topic of transplants. As I write this, I am preparing to head to Seattle in a couple of weeks for my second bone marrow transplant in less than one year.

In December 2012 I heard the diagnosis that nobody wants to hear – CANCER. Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) to be exact. Surprisingly, I did not freak out as much as I expected. After all, my doctor told me I had the “good kind” of AML and that I had a reasonable chance of being cured with an 8 month chemo regimen. While I wasn’t thrilled about the timeframe or hospitalization required for these chemo cycles, I was happy to have a plan and committed to do whatever it took to kick this cancer to the curb. Even though my doctor’s plan was to do chemo, my mother kept insisting that I was going to need a bone marrow transplant. Every time she brought this up I found myself getting defensive and angry. I didn’t really know too much about bone marrow transplants, but I knew it was a serious, scary procedure that required a very long recovery time and I didn’t want to go through that! I had every belief that my chemo was going to cure my leukemia and I would move on with my life. Fast forward a few months and it turns out my mom was right. I went into remission for a short time and then relapsed. Now, my best chance for success was the bone marrow transplant.

A bone marrow transplant, also referred to as Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), is a life-saving procedure used to treat many blood cancers and other immune system or genetic diseases. During the transplant, damaged or destroyed bone marrow is replaced with healthy bone marrow, often from a donor.

The process of finding a donor can be challenging. Typically siblings are tested first, though each sibling has only a 25% chance of being a match. An astounding 70% of patients who need a transplant do not have a donor in their family. I was extremely lucky that 2 of my 3 siblings are a match. I never expected to have one transplant, let alone two. For those who are not so lucky, they begin a process of searching national and international donor registries. Be The Match maintains the world’s largest and most widely known donor registries, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program. Their registries include over 11 million potential life-saving donors. The process of becoming a donor is easier than you might think. I encourage you all to visit the Be The Match website to learn more about becoming a donor to see if it is right for you.

“Each hour, more than 6 people die from a blood cancer. The cure for blood cancer is in the hands of ordinary people. You could be the cure.” Be The Match


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. spiketon
    Jan 08, 2015 @ 20:19:45

    Karen must be working behind the scenes already with your kit arriving today. Great job spreading the word on Be the Match- so important.



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