I am new to the world of Love Infinitely; I stumbled upon it about a month ago through twitter and it warmed my heart. I love the thought of people living their life with a purpose, giving back, and having an honest joy to share with the world.Helping people, animals, and the environment to create a world of harmony is the most fulfilling life I could imagine.
Some of my favourite ventures have been small ones: visiting wildlife rescue centers to sponsor injured animals, cleaning up garbage on local hiking trails, and supporting advocacy programs for young adult cancer patients.However, when thinking about a cause that I am most passionate about, there is one that stands out the most, and of course, it comes with a story.
When I was 18, I honestly didn’t understand what cancer was.I knew it sucked, and that I had lost both grandparents as well as my cat to it, but I admit that I was ignorant to the details of this disease.My older brother, who was 22 years young, had been sick for a few weeks while doing his midterms at University.We joked about him having a cold for so long because I was usually the one who got sick, he rarely even had a sniffle.It had been weeks of this when the doctor suspected pneumonia and instructed him to go to the emergency room for a rather routine procedure to deal with the fluid in his lungs.A routine procedure turned into his lungs collapsing and him going into shock.I met my parents at the hospital that night when I got off work at 10pm.I didn’t fully comprehend what was going on, things were a haze for me.I remember they wouldn’t let me into the ICU for a few days because I came down with a cold (see, I told you).Then just as I was feeling better, my brother was being transferred to a regular hospital room, “hooray!” I thought.I remember walking down the hall of the hospital to his room with a ‘tra-la-la-la-la’ attitude.At that instance, I saw my mom at the end of the hallway, walking towards me like a heat-seeking missile.“We need to talk.”She said while dragging me into a family room.
Cancer.It’s such a small world that packs a hurricane force punch.My brother was transferred to the major hospital in Vancouver and began his treatment.Because he was lucky enough to have a rare type of cancer, he spent most of the next year living in an isolated room the size of a closet.He needed a bone marrow stem cell transplant to potentially save his life, and I was his match.I went through with the whole procedure and it was nothing as I had imagined it, just mild discomfort.When I thought about the horrible pain that my brother was going through 12 floors up, mild discomfort was insignificant.After my brothers transplant I signed up to be an unrelated donor, because if that was all it took to save someone’s life I’d do it again in a heartbeat.I can only imagine what would have happened to my brother if I hadn’t been his match.It is those thoughts that have motivated me to fight for those people who have yet to find a match.
Patients have about a 30% chance of finding a match in their family; the other 70% rely on strangers to save their lives.Sadly, only 2% of our population are registered to be unrelated donors.People are dying because they can’t find a match; you could be that match.
One of my life goals is to educate people about unrelated stem cell and bone marrow donation.If you think that the only way to donate is a scary and painful surgery done through your hipbone, you would be wrong.Sadly though, you would be part of the majority.Over the past 10 years, great advancements have been made in the donation process, allowing for over 85% of donors to use a process called peripheral blood stem cell collection.What this involves is similar to donating blood platelets.You have one needle in each arm that acts on a closed loop to filter out stem cells from your blood and then return your blood to you via the opposite arm.It isn’t painful, it isn’t scary, and you can watch a movie while you donate.Nobody is automatically on the registry, you must sign up, which basically means you fill out a form and do a simple swab of the inside of your cheek.It’s that simple to begin your first step towards saving a life.When I talk to people about being an unrelated donor, I usually get the same few responses: I have no idea what that is, I’m not tough enough to go through that, or I’m sure there are enough people registered.The one that hurts me the most is when people say that they would do it if they knew the person.Well, they may be a stranger to you, but to somebody they are a parent, a sibling, a child, or the love of someone’s life.And you could save them.
In Canada, we only have one organization for this called One Match. In the USA, there are organizations such as Be The Match, DKMS, and Gift of Life. I encourage anyone who is even slightly inspired by my story, to read up on these organizations and consider registering. Knowing that you are saving a life, giving somebody a second chance, and allowing a family more time with the ones they love; It’s a beautiful thing.
Follow Monique on Twitter: @lilminimo
Visit her blog here: callmemoniq.wordpress.com
Tags: be a donor, be the match, beat cancer, blood donor, bone marrow, bone marrow transplant, Cancer, life, love, love infinitely, love infinitely project, Monique Gendron, one match, save a life, save lives, second chance, stem cell, stem cell transplant, transplant, unrelated donor