I am not sure if you remember it, but there used to be this Rolo advert, about girl asking a boy for a Rolo. The boy looks sadly at his pack of Rolo’s, and says: “Its my last one, but you can have it.” I can’t remember the details, but its about someone having a big enough heart, after having a whole pack of chocolates, to give someone else their last one. A small sacrifice to show you care. I realise the title of this post is not well thought out and that if I had one last stem cell, I would be in a heap of trouble. I am hoping that you will forgive me for the scientific flaw in the title and really see the point of what I’m trying to get across.You see, I like to see the good in people, and struggle, I mean really grapple, with the fact that it is possible for a human being to be callous. I genuinely believe that most people would give someone their last Rolo. I mean it’s selfish to have a whole pack and then not give someone just one, right? If you don’t see it that way, we can’t be friends!
I realise I’m being a bit long winded and there are no pretty pictures to keep you reading, but there is a cute anecdote about my niece, if you bear with me. This post is about something I am about to do: Donate stem cells (bone marrow cells).
I did not want to share this with many people. I most certainly did not want to blog about it, but I have realised that I need to. So many people do not know enough about it. I am not the person getting my hair shaved at a mall to raise awareness. I have an ugly head and I would look terrible bald, but this is a cause which I have now become passionate about. I signed up for the bone marrow registry about a while ago and within a few months, the registry contacted me to tell me I was a possible match for someone who needed stem cells and that we needed to get the next few stages of testing done quickly. Most people never get called. At first, I did not know what to think. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that I would do it, without question. In fact, I felt happy about it, and that’s the problem, I felt selfish. I was happy that I had the honour of being able to save someone’s life, but felt selfish that someone, somewhere in the world, was having the hardest time of their life, struggling to survive, and there I was, feeling “honoured”. I did not tell anyone, until two weeks later – because I did not want anyone to say: “You’re a hero” or “That’s so brave of you”, or “Wow, you’re such an amazing person”, because it feels so fake. You know who is a hero: My Someone.
My Someone, is the person out there going through something I cannot fathom, and yet fighting through gritted teeth to survive. They are brave. They are amazing, and courageous, and strong. Compared to what they are going through, I am just a person giving a Rolo. I have a whole lot of stem cells, I won’t miss a few, but for My Someone, they need it to live, they don’t have any! They might have pinned all their hope upon finding me. Someone out there, may be waiting for you. I have now told a number of people close to me, and a couple of others. Everyone’s reaction is the same, “You’re so brave” etc…I don’t agree, but I’m okay with that. What makes me a little upset, is the number of people who still believe you have to go under anaesthetic, have a needle inserted into your hip, and undergo extreme pain to donate stem cells. In fact, I thought that too when I signed up and I still thought that when I got the call. Movies (like a certain one with Will Smith) – sensationalize things, and unravel everything organisations like the Sunflower Fund are trying to do: Get people signed up, and spread the word that it is a mostly painless procedure.
The thing is, it is just not that big a deal any more. Its about as painless as having a drip! To put it simply, they give you medication to get the stem cells to move into your blood, and then connect you to a machine that filters them out, so they don’t have to get it from inside of your hip bone, with a large needle. Get this: They even give you your blood back. My six year old niece would love that! She was in hospital and had to have blood tests. When she was discharged, she burst into tears. “Mommy, we can’t leave, they never gave me my blood back yet. What if I need it?!?!?” She was upset! Let me not digress from the point here, I want you to go right now to the Sunflower Fund site, and sign up – and be willing to do something a little inconvenient, that could save a persons life. If you have some money you’d like to put to good use, they could find a few good things to do with it that save lives: like educate potential donors and get potential matches tested and on the registry.
There is nothing exceptional about what I am doing. Yes, I get the opportunity to save someone’s life, but I’d like to believe that is something any rational human being would do. Give their last Rolo for someone who needed it more than them. Please go and read this blog, if you are unsure about why it is so important to get on the bone marrow registry and to donate blood.
To My Someone, keep strong, you are always in my prayers.