To my fellow mothers:
Last night, right before going to bed, I checked Facebook one last time. As I did, I read the devastating news. My neighbor’s 5-year-old son, Jack, who spent the majority of last year hospitalized for AML, an aggressive form of leukemia, had relapsed. He would need to start chemo again and would likely need a second bone marrow transplant. My heart sank.
This is the same little boy who was happily running around outside with my own sons earlier last week; the same polite, kind, full of life little boy who generously shares his trucks with my 3-year-old and 19-month-old who aren’t yet so good at sharing; the same little boy who I watched learn to ride a bike for the first time a few months ago on the walking path next to my house. Yes, that little boy is going to be hospitalized and will go through hell all over again.
And what makes it so much worse this time is that they know what they are in for. His mom and dad know how many hours they will spend away from their 3-year-old, and they know the fear they will see on their 5-year-old’s face as he undergoes bone marrow biopsies and has to take medicine that is supposed to make him better but will in the process make him feel terrible. They know. And yet, they still fight; they still go forward.
I felt helpless. Useless. I’ve walked this path with hundreds of families before in my role as a social worker. I’ve cried with mothers and fathers. I’ve played Guitar Hero with children who are immune-compromised and can’t have visitors, so the staff become their companions. I’ve supported angry siblings who didn’t understand why Mommy or Daddy always have to be at the hospital. But I’ve never watched one of my own friend’s children go through this. I was desperate to find a way to help.
We’d mow their lawn for them, but they already pay someone to do that. We’d help watch their younger son, but they have a ton of family in the area whom he will feel more comfortable with and who will fill that need. Yes, I can make meals and offer support. But really, it doesn’t seem like enough when they are fighting for their child’s life.
But this morning, I thought of something I could do. And I need your help to do it. Please consider helping too. No, I’m not going to ask you to donate to a GoFundMe page.
Shortly before my oldest son was born, I registered as a bone marrow donor. I did so because as the reality of motherhood was upon me I realized that heaven forbid, if my child or my husband or I ever needed bone marrow, I’d want there to be a match available for us. And I thought it selfish to want to be able to use a resource without myself contributing to the pool of donors. So I made sure to add myself to that pool. I’ve never been matched with anyone, but I am glad my DNA is out there in case a mother, father, or child ever needs it.
Imagine if every person reading this letter registered as a donor. Imagine if every one of those people then shared information about bone marrow donation with all their friends. We could increase the current donor pool tenfold. We could save the lives of other children, mothers, and fathers. We could make a difference.
Becoming a donor is easy. You go online to bethematch.org and request a kit. They send you a packet with instructions on how to swab your cheek. You swab your cheek in the comfort of your own home and then send it back. And ta-da! You’re magically on a list that could give you the ability to save someone’s life. Has anything so life-changing ever been so easy?
Please, as a mother, for your child, for your husband, for yourself, and for children like my neighbor’s son, register for bone marrow donation. If due to age or health reasons you can’t register yourself, then share this information with other people who can register.
We can’t do much for children like Jack. But we can do something. Please consider registering as a bone marrow donor. You never know, it could make all the difference in the world.