As Melissa and I woke up on 10/1, ready to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary, I could have never fathomed that this date that had grown to become such a special milestone of love and happiness would soon also take on a whole new earth shattering significance – the day we learned that she had Leukemia.
The news buckled my knees, literally sucked the breath out of my lungs in a way I hadn’t felt since exactly nine years earlier when I first saw her walking down the aisle. Shock gave way to disbelief and then fear. Anchored by Melissa’s bravery, those feelings were soon pushed aside to make way for a new view our family has adopted – “Melissa WILL beat this, so let’s band together to fight and methodically, step-by-step knock this cancer out”. Since then, she’s been charging forward with resolute strength and good spirits, even during some really tough days. Hospitalized since 10/14/21, she’s nearing the end of the first phase of chemotherapy, which she’s handled like a boss! But moving forward she needs a stem cell donor– she can’t do this one alone.
After chemo, Melissa needs a stem cell Transplant to send this Leukemia packing for good and CURE her. Only 30% of patients are able to find a suitable donor within their family – the remaining 70% need to search for an unrelated donor between the ages of 18-44 somewhere out there. Could it be you? Ethnicity is a determining factor, so our best chance of finding a match is by searching the Filipino community. However, it is still possible to match with donors from different ethnic backgrounds. If you’re willing, it’s easy to join the registry – a simple cheek swab that’s sent to you in the mail. Should you be a match, the donating process is often barely more intensive than that of giving blood. You may match one of the other 30,000 people in the US diagnosed annually with life threatening blood diseases like Leukemia. You can save a life and ensure that Leukemia isn’t the end for another person and family out there, but just a chapter in a long story yet to be written.
Melissa was unable to find a donor match in the registry and she needed a transplant as soon as possible. So, her Uncle, who is a half match, donated his stem cells so she could have another change at life. Haploidentical transplant come with some risks, but we wish Melissa and her family all the best. So my humble asks:
1. Please consider joining the registry.
2. Please share this message far and wide, particularly with anyone of Filipino or other Asian decent you know.
It’s easy to feel helpless when presented with grave tests like this, and now having been touched by this firsthand, it’s heartbreaking for me to know that so many other families worldwide are trying to navigate the same path. All of us have the power in our bones to be the one person that can give someone out there hope. I hope you will consider joining us in the search. Kevin, Melissa’s husband.