We Should All Give a Spit About Cancer

Bone marrow donor via Shutterstock Bone marrow donor via Shutterstock

It was about a month ago that I found out my friend’s 10-month-old little girl was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) which is the predominant pediatric leukemia. It goes without saying that this is any parent’s worst nightmare. As a friend, I felt helpless, because aside from "being there" there’s not much else I could do. But, on second thought as it turned out, I couldn’t be more wrong.

Each year about 20,000 Americans require a bone marrow or cord blood (another source of stem cells) transplant. Of the patients requiring transplants, only 30 percent have a matching donor in the family and the other 70 percent rely on a national registry of potential donors.

I looked into what I could do to become a registered donor, and of course a quick Google search provided me with the answer. I registered with one of the sites and they could not have made the process any easier. All I needed was to enter some basic information and within the same week I received a prepaid envelope with a kit containing a couple of swabs. I just swabbed the inside of my cheeks on each side and placed the swabs into a package, placed them in the envelope and sent it on its way.

If you do match, the procedure is performed under general anesthesia so most of the pain would be the soreness after the procedure. There are some risks as there are with any surgical procedure, but mostly from the anesthesia if at all.

All cancer is heartbreaking, but pediatric cancers are my emotional soft spot. Becoming a registered bone marrow donor is simple and I can’t think of a better way to be a friend.

If you're interested and want to help, here are some websites you can visit: