Ten Reasons to Join the National Bone Marrow Registry

I shot the videos you see below for an August 20, 2016 bone marrow matching drive in Camden, ME — a drive motivated by the multiple myeloma cancer suffered by my wife, Tracy Jalbuena. But almost all of these reasons apply beyond Tracy to one of the millions more who suffer from blood cancer, in places far beyond one small town in Maine.

You don’t need to wait for a bone marrow donor drive to join the National Bone Marrow Registry and see if you’re a match for someone who needs a life-saving transplant.  Click here to visit the Be the Match website and sign up for the registry RIGHT NOW — you’ll be sent a free test kit for a simple, painless cheek swab in the mail.

Reason #1: It’s Painless

Reason #2: It’s Quick

Reason #3: It’s Free

Reason #4: The Only Hope for Multiple Myeloma Sufferers

Reason #5: Tracy Jalbuena is Awesome

Reason #6: Do it for the Kids

Reason #7: Come to Help One Person, Help 1 Million + On the Side

Reason #8: Do it for the One You Love

Reasons #9 and #10: Build Community & Feel Great

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Tracy Needs You: Two Ways to Save a Life

Dear Friends,

It’s been nearly two years now since my wife and best friend Tracy Jalbuena was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of immune cells in the blood. Here’s the good news: thanks to attentive care at Pen Bay Medical Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Tracy is disabled but in remission for now.

Tracy Jalbuena with James Cook in the Camden Hills, Spring 2016

While she’s in remission, as long as it lasts, Tracy’s got a sparkle in her eye and a smile on her face. People who see her on the street say to her, “you look great!” (I agree). The insidious nature of multiple myeloma, though, is that it attacks her beneath the skin: her bones, her blood, her immune system have been repeatedly assaulted, and she’s been on constant chemotherapy for 22 months with no end in sight.  She won’t tell you this if you meet her on the street, but she’s sore, she’s sick and she’s so very tired — and that’s while she’s in the relatively smooth patch of remission.

Tracy and our kids and I have been trying to embrace a normal-like life as long as this remission lasts.  Tracy’s spending as much time with the kids as she can.  She’s taking walks, singing in a community chorus, and doing community service for our local EMS services — but while she’s doing this, and while we her family are at her side, we’re looking over our shoulders with this fact in mind: even with medical advances, median time to death is only four to six years for myeloma cancer patients.  The cancerous cells in myeloma are persistent, maybe even clever: they adapt and change to whatever treatment we throw at her.  Tracy’s remission will inevitably, eventually, fail.

Right now there’s just one treatment that offers a hope of a cure — a bone marrow transplant. Tracy’s eligible for the treatment, but she needs a special person who matches her very rare bone marrow type — and in two years of searching we haven’t been able to find anyone with marrow quite like hers. YOU or YOUR FRIEND could be the one.  You could save her life.

Please, for Tracy, for our two kids, and for me too, could you do two simple, easy things?

1. Are you between the ages of 18-44? If you haven’t already, visit http://bethematch.org/join and sign up to receive a testing kit in the mail. It’s simple, free, and painless (really! just a cheek swab). This test will let the National Bone Marrow Registry know what type of bone marrow you have, and if you match Tracy or someone else, they’ll give you a call and let you know.  If you match Tracy or someone else who’s sick and in need, you can donate some of your bone marrow cells WITHOUT SURGERY (it’s a bit like a blood donation — find out more here).

2. Can you let 4 or 5 friends know, too?  Share this message with them on Facebook, or by text message, or by e-mail, or in a face-to-face talk.  Your message is simple: visit http://bethematch.org to get a free, painless test kit and find out whether they’re the special person who can save someone’s life.

These two simple steps would mean so much to me, my kids, and all the people who’ve met Tracy and know how special she is.   Thank you!

LOVE BETWEEN GENERATIONS

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1978, Ma-asin, Iloilo, Philippines

Daniel and Tracy Jalbuena with their beloved Lolo, Dr. N. Jalbuena, Sr.

Lolo was a country physician who kept his records on a notepad in his pocket and made house calls on a motorcycle.  Many times his patients paid him in chickens or were unable to pay at all.  He treated everybody who came to the door.  Lolo and sweet Lola loved their American grandchildren very much and would be so sad to know that Tracy has blood cancer and desperately needs a matching donor for a stem cell transplant.   Who would have thought that our blended lineages … Filipino and Irish-German … would one day limit Tracy’s very life?  The critical shortage of mixed race marrow donors is a public health issue for Asian and Filipino Americans.   Tracy, honey, I will not give up praying and searching for your life saving marrow donor!

Ever Lovin’ Mom

#MissUniverse2015 #PiaAlonzoWurtzbach #MissUniverseSavingTracy #bethematch #match4Lara #swabnation #aadp #bethematch

A FAIRY TALE

Once upon a magical time, a young girl was loving life and growing in body and soul.  She was the eldest of four children born to a Filipino physician and an Irish/German nurse.  This young lady was determined and had carefully laid out plans for herself.  She then set out to accomplish those dreams.

Time passed.  She advanced in age and married her college sweetheart.  Two delightful children were born to the couple, during which time the young mother whizzed through medical school and residency training.

The family settled in a small village where the father became a college teacher and the mother an Emergency Room physician, caring for the townspeople in their time of illness.  Two years went by and the family nestled into village life, making friends and contributing to the health and welfare of the townsfolk.  As a village doctor, she was sought out and loved by patients and colleagues alike.

Suddenly something bad happened.  The doctor-wife-mother became very sick herself.  Strangely, she was not able to receive the best treatment for her illness simply because of her charming and rare Filipino and Irish/German background. Yes, a stem cell transplant would only be successful if a person of similar background agreed to donate a few stem cells from their healthy bone marrow to hers.  There was no one in the village or around the known world whose marrow “matched” the marrow of the young doctor.  No one to save her from the terrible sickness that had befallen her.

This is where the fairy tale ends.

Until someone of Filipino-American-European background is willing to be a hero and save the day!  Someone who can swoop in and rescue the young damsel through marrow donation.   No cape or super powers needed.  A few stem cells is all it takes.  A desire to do good and help a fair maiden.

#bethematch #match4lara #MissUniverseSavingTracy #PiaAlonzoWurtzbach    #swabnation #FilipinoAmerican #asianamericandonorprogram

#MissUniverseSavingTracy

There is one entity on the planet that has the power to change the course for very sick mixed heritage patients at this moment in time.  The Miss Universe Organization and Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach!  The followers of Pia adore her, they attend to every word and follow every announcement with keen interest. She is a phenomenon!  Imagine what could happen if Miss Universe 2015 advocated for young people, especially of mixed race, to give of themselves by joining the bone marrow registry!

Pia is so lovely, humble and kind.  She is the perfect one, by virtue of her Filipino/German ancestry and her magnetic personality, to rally her fans to step up and save lives!  Pia herself might be a “match” for someone!  It would be a magnificent FIRST and go down in history as the ultimate selfless act by a Miss Universe!  Ever.

A quote from Pia,  “I am very persistent.  When I have a goal, that goal is fixed.  I don’t negotiate my goals! Be patient, work hard and don’t give up!”

These words strike a chord with me, because I have the same mantra.  I am Tracy’s mother and I am persistent and patient.  I will move mountains to find a life saving heroine for my daughter.  My goal is fixed, and that goal is to make a marrow transplant possible for Tracy and give her a chance to live!

I appeal to the Miss Universe Organization, and to Pia directly, to adopt bone marrow recruitment as a platform issue.  It is a natural “match”!

Pia + BE THE MATCH = Saving Lives

#MissUniverseSavingTracy                                                                     #MissUniverse2015                                                                                       #FilipinoAmerican                                                                                                         #fahm2016                                                                                                   #PiaAlonzoWurtzbach                                                         #AsianAmericanDonorProgram                                                                     bethematch.org

 

Oregon State University issues Be The Match Campus Challenge Against Blood Cancer

Undergraduates at Oregon State University held a donor drive on their campus in Corvallis last month:

More than 120 students joined the National Bone Marrow Registry with the easy, quick, painless, no-cost act of sitting down at a table on the quad and getting their cheeks swabbed.

That simple act may have amazing reverberations — any time in the next 20 years that someone gets sick with blood cancer, an OSU student will be checked to see if their blood markers match.  If and when these students’ swabs match up, they can give the gift of life to someone in desperate need.

If you watch the video above, you’ll notice that OSU students are challenging other campuses across the nation to do better, to top OSU in its donor count. Has your school organized a bone marrow donor drive yet?  If not, check out the Be The Match on Campus website, which has all the links and resources you need to set up a donor drive on campus.  You can do it — and it works!  Check out these amazing stats.  Through the new Be The Match on Campus program, college students have:

  • raised $53,063 to support the National Bone Marrow Registry
  • added 4,111 new people to the registry as potential donors
  • generated 86 actual bone marrow donations already!

Add your energy to this wave of generosity.  Give of yourself.  Help others learn about the gift of a bone marrow match for people suffering from blood cancers.  Grab a friend, head online, and get a Be The Match on Campus chapter started at your college or university today.

#OregonState #BeTheMatch

Collegemates

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IU College friends reunite for Tracy & James’ wedding, 1997                                   Julie, Tracy, Saudia

Tracy has blood cancer and desperately needs a matching stem cell donor to survive.   Who would have thought that her lovely blended ancestry would one day limit her very life?  Someone with similar ancestry will be the ONE who can save this young woman’s life.

Miss Universe 2015, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, please accept this invitation to join us and help increase diversity in the marrow donor registry using your unique Filipino German lineage and your world stage.  Salamat and may God bless you!

#MissUniverse2015                                                                                   #MissUniverseSavingTracy                                                                                             #bethematch.org                                                                   #ConfidentlyBeautifulWithAHeart