Friday, October 5, 2012

I am asking for a favor

This is the national month of pink, where everybody runs and jogs and buys items in pink "for the cure."

Do you believe that?  Do you think that buying pink UGG boots, or a pink flashlight, or a can of soup with a pink label, or any of those things on display in stores this month will help anybody like me, who is suffering with cancer?

Do you feel satisfied that if you chose something pink this month that you helped?

Don't be. The only people you are helping when buying any product tagged "awareness" is the company that slapped that label on the product.  Being aware of something does not save lives, and catching breast cancer early does not stop it progressing to Stage IV, as I well know.  Nobody knows why cancer progresses and almost all of us who are now Stage IV were early stage to start with.  Awareness doesn't stop cancer, and the money donated to Koman and their ilk doesn't go towards a cure.

But, you can help.  YOU can save somebody's life, and it's so simple.  How?

Stop.  Think.

Don't buy pink.

Do this instead:

Immediately contact the Bone Marrow Registry by clicking that link.  I want you to sign up online; there is a form right there. They will send you a kit that you will use to swab your cheek, and then send it back to them.

You can then give bone marrow and save somebody's life.

Whose life might you save?

Kurt is in the back

How about my son's friend? His name is Kurt. He, too, has been living with cancer, in this case, leukemia. In fact, he had to give up a year of school to deal with this disease.  Much of last year he spent in hospitals, sick on very strong chemo.   Can you imagine being 15, spending a year in the hospital, your world of teenage fun going on without you?  Homecoming and tests and crushes and Science Olympiad and all of the things that make up a teenage kid's life - gone for a TV and a hospital bed?

He and my son have been friends since 4th grade. My son is now a junior, an A student, in the rigorous IB program, which he started in 6th grade, along with Kurt, which is about the time the above photo was taken.   After last year's nightmare, Kurt started school again, repeating his sophomore year, now a year behind although no less gifted. He would do well, everybody knew - the support of the entire school community was behind him.

And, then his cancer came back, and he now needs a bone marrow transplant.

My suffering through this experience, knowing it will best me, is difficult.   It would be agony to watch my child do it. If I could take on Kurt's cancer, I would.  But, I can't help.  Maybe you can.  True suffering comes from knowing there could be a way to save him, that the right person is out there, but has not given such a simple thing as a cheek swab.   Kurt is Asian and he has not found a match on the marrow registry because of his genetic subtype.

So, the favor that I am asking is simple: if you are a reader of mine who does not have cancer, get yourself on the registry. (And, if you had DCIS and are healed, you are still eligible).  No excuses.   If you are sick yourself, ask your family members and friends, your neighbors to do it for you, in honor of pink.  Show them how to really save a life.  Do this especially if you are Asian or have have any Asian friends.

If you are a Sacramento media person, let's focus this year on saving Kurt and not another retread of pink.  His story should be told. Sacramento Bee, maybe you can help.

Don't be dumb.  Don't buy pink.  Do something real.

Here is a video that explains the process of marrow donation and how very easy it is.

Thank you.


  1. Hi Ann,
    Great idea! I tried to register here in Australia & I'm too old at 47, cut off here is 18 to 45! It's weird though, once registered you stay on until your 60th birthday unless you request to be taken off....
    This is also particularly close to my heart as my step sister is battling AML & is in the work up stage or a bone marrow transplant. She has a match, only match worldwide from the UK! Awesome result, am hopeful it will be successful!
    So with the above in mind all I can do is donate blood, so that's my plan instead.
    Lisa xx

    1. I'm so glad your step sister found a match. I have been on the registry for 20 years, but have not ever been called and always wanted to be. I'm no longer eligible but if I can get one person - no, 100 people - to sign up, I will be happy.

  2. Great post Ann. Not eligible here, but I bet you will really make a difference. :)


  3. Thanks for sharing this important message. Action that makes a difference is sometimes hard to come by. Good luck to your son's friend. I hope he gets the transplant he needs.

  4. Can breast cancer survivors donate bone marrow?

  5. Breast cancer survivors can't donate bone marrow, with the exception of DCIS (or any in situ) survivors. However, their friends, their family, their facebook contacts, the people they come into contact with and everybody who reads their signature line in emails, or who reads their blog or twitter feed or who is in touch with people - all of those people CAN donate marrow.

  6. Hey Ann,
    Great thing you're doing here for your friend's son. Im Asian and 21. I just signed up to be a bone marrow donor from the link. Hopefully I'll be able to help Kurt out. If not, I hope he soon finds a person that is a match.

    1. Meghan, thank you SO MUCH. You are a true hero and I will never forget it. I hope you are called to save a life but if not, you are still a hero anyway. Thank you.

  7. Just found your blog and want to say, good for you - the pinkie bandwagon has become something of a fashion statement now and there is a lot of well-meaning but ignorant BS being circulated about BrC. I've done the Stage 2/mastectomy/chemo route and am 6 years clear, but also had concurrent bladder cancer (unconnected) and without giving TMI am now a "woman of many missing parts!"

    You might find my now dormant blog,, amusing in places and also you will love the drawings done by my good pal Amy Marash on (She has had colorectal cancer.

    With all good wishes from a Canadian cancer survivor (so far), based in the UK


  8. Anne, I too have been on the bone marrow registry for years and have never been called — and now realize that, post breast cancer, I am no longer eligible. ;-(

    Signing up to be a donor is simple. Everyone who is able should do it. I hope the Sac Bee picks up Kurt's story and he finds a match! {{{hugs}}} to Kurt, and to you!

  9. Thank you for posting this. I've been meaning to register for years, but never "got around to it". I've signed up now, and am waiting for my kit. I'm not Asian, so it isn't likely that I can help Kurt, but hopefully there is someone out there who I can help.

  10. I sincerely hate what the Komen organization has done with October. I've never been a pink lover, and the hype that is associated with it, where breast cancer is concerned, is just plain ludicrous. And it's shocking to see the salaries of the staff/board members. I heard a reporter question someone from the Komen organization once, as to how much money is actually used for breast cancer research/support, and the spokesperson got really hot and bothered about the mere question. I was disappointed that the reporter backed off. It seems they've created an empire based on a lie.

  11. You got me to sign up. I just completed the online process and await my swab in the mail. It's my "push back to pink." I'm 42 and in excellent health (only see a gynecologist for annual exams and today they marveled at my 112/58 blood pressure). Doctors don't give prizes for good health though so maybe my reward will be being able to pass along my cells to someone else.


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