We had known for a long time that this was a possibility. The disease had come from my grandmother's family and although none of us ending up getting it, it had been the cause of death for nearly everyone on that side.
It was hard to leave with so much uncertainty but my dad had served in the Air Force when he was young so he was getting good care at the VA Hospital in Salt Lake. My brother drove him to dialysis three times a week while I was gone and then a week after I got home, he got a kidney. We don't much about the donor except that she was in her 30s and had died in a car accident. Thirteen years later I still feel an enormous debt to her and to her family for making that choice to donate her organs.
So flash forward to November of this year. My beautiful sister-in-law who successfully battled thyroid cancer a few years ago found out that it had come back. Then a week later they found out she was pregnant with their first baby. Then two weeks later my brother got a call from the registry of bone marrow donors saying that he was likely a match for a leukemia patient.
Kristen's cancer is slow-moving and the doctors are waiting until she has little Clifford grandkid number 7 to do her surgery. Logan turned out to be a perfect match and goes to Seattle in two weeks to give a 31 year old stranger some of his healthy bone marrow.
Top it all off with my grandfather being in the hospital the last few weeks being treated for lung cancer and well, I can't help having all kinds of mixed emotions about being far away from the people I love when things get crazy.
However, another thing I am feeling is incredibly grateful and responsible to do my part for other families. My brother decided to use his second Ironman this summer as an opportunity to raise money and awareness for Be the Match, the national registry of bone marrow donors. You can read about his story and donate to his efforts here.
In addition to donating dollars, I have also filled out my profile at Be the Match so that maybe sometime I can be a bone marrow donor too. Any healthy adult can join the registry and there is all kinds of information there to set your mind at ease about the process. It's not a long application and you feel warm and fuzzy filling it out.
I posted Logan's link on Facebook yesterday and my cute dad who I think has commented on all of two links ever made this wonderful observation:
As the beneficiary of that donation 13 years ago, I can verify that all of you young and healthy friends of Cliffords will never do anything more important or worthwhile than saving a stranger's life. Please get on a donor list - someone is waiting for you.
It's one thing to count your blessings and feel lucky about the good fortune in your life but if you have that good health or wealth or extra time, I think it's equally if not more important to do something with your blessings.