Dreams Come True

Dear Miss Universe 2015,

You show the world what it means to be beautiful, inside and out.  You carry yourself with grace and poise, even under unexpected pressure.   Confidently beautiful with a heart!  The lovely, compassionate Filipina is the pride of her country mates.  A dream has come true and now you embark on a time of new experiences and service.

Dear Pia, it will be your privilege and honor, by virtue of your God-given beauty and talents, to serve humanity.

I am a woman with a dream in my heart, as well.  My daughter, Tracy Jalbuena, needs a hero to save her life.  She has blood cancer and is desperately in need of a stem cell/marrow transplant to survive.  There is no “match” for my precious Tracy because of her unique heritage of Filipino and German lineage.  A donor with similar ethnicity may be the ONE who can “match” and save a young woman’s life.  Donors of Asian and mixed ancestry are in dire shortage.

Pia, there can be no more noble an effort to take up than marrow donor recruitment!  A gift of a few stem cells from one to another.  Simple and profound.  Much simpler for the donor than in the past and so vital and life giving for the patient!!!

What a timely and fitting opportunity for you and the Miss Universe organization.  Personal and compelling.  Personal, in the sweet kinship between you and patients like Tracy.  And compelling, in the moving stories of those who search for, and who have found, their hero donors.  This is a natural “match”!  PIA and BE THE MATCH!

Salamat and God bless from mom with a dream!

#MissUniverse2015                                                                     #MissUniverseSavingTracy                                         #ConfidentlyBeautifulWithAHeart                                                                 #BeTheMatch

MISS UNIVERSE SAVING TRACY

Dear Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015,

Show the world what it means to be beautiful inside and out.  You are so gracious and so lovely.  I just know you could help save a precious life using your platform.

#MissUniverseSavingTracy #MissUniversalDonor #BeTheMatch

 

 

 

In a Season of Gifts, Give Yourself

Christmas Tree 2015It’s the day after Christmas. If you celebrate the December holiday with others, you know the joy of giving something to someone else is often bigger than the joy of receiving a present.  It feels so good to know that someone you care about is smiling, enjoying themselves and enjoying the world a little bit better.

Steven Pinker has recently argued that our world becomes a better place when we expand our “circle of care” to people outside our immediate friends, family and neighbors.  Now that the Christmas season has passed, could you feel just as good knowing that you’ve helped a person you’ve never met?

I think the answer is yes, and there are many ways to find that joy. You don’t have to be rich like Bill Gates.  If you’re a healthy person, you can give the gift of yourself.  There are many people out there who need what your body makes:

  • Give blood.  Every few weeks, your body makes enough extra blood to spare a pint for someone in a health crisis.  Saving a life can be as easy as a few minutes reclining on a cot.  To give blood, call the American Red Cross today.
  • Give a kidney.  You have two and you only need one.  There are many people out there who don’t have a single working kidney, who only need one.  2-1 = 1. 0+1 = 1. That’s two lives for one. To find out how to give a kidney, visit this National Kidney Foundation webpage.
  • Donate marrow.  Many thousands of people are suffering from deadly cancers of the blood – lympoma, leukemia, myeloma.  They’re hoping for a cure that comes with the donation of bone marrow stem cells from another person sharing their genetic type.  Get tested today to see if you’re the match — testing is free, painless as a cheekswab and confidential.  Visit bethematch.org and sign up today.

Christmas is behind us but the New Year approaches.  Will you make a New Year’s resolution to give of yourself?  Why wait for the New Year?  Click one of the links above to get started.

MISS UNIVERSE SAVING TRACY ?

More than one year has passed since we began the search for Tracy’s marrow “match” for her to survive blood cancer.   There have been two close calls, so we know that something GOOD is coming soon in 2016 !!  And that something may have international connections.

You may have seen this.  Beautiful Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, has won the crown and sash of Miss Universe in a suspenseful pageant contest.   It happens that Tracy shares something lovely and exquisite with Pia Alonzo.  Not only are they both gorgeous, but they share their mixed Filipino and German lineage.   Like kindred sisters.   Like marrow mates?

Hereby begins an effort to catch onto the star of Miss Universe and her team and invite their help.

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, would you kindly consider joining BeTheMatch.org and becoming a potential donor for your sister, Tracy Jalbuena?  Or for someone else waiting for a match? AND, no less importantly, would you take up the cause of marrow donor recruitment for Asian Americans and mixed minority patients who are desperate for a cure.

Miss Universe, you have a special ability, by virtue of your beautifully blended ancestry and your international platform, TO. SAVE. LIVES.  What a privilege and an honor.  If you choose to take it.   We have faith that if only our Fil AM compatriots knew of the severe shortage of marrow donors for brothers and sisters in need, they would respond in great numbers.  Pia, that power is within your reach.  The media are waiting for your ideas. A platform of marrow donor recruitment and saving lives!  Personal and compelling!

Okay, readers, here is where you can help.  Please share our appeal to Miss Universe over all social media outlets.  Please use these hashtags freely:

#PiaSavingTracy  #PiaWillYouBeTheMatch  #MissUniverseWillYouBeTheMatch  #MissUniverseWillYouBeTheMatch

 

 

 

LITTLE SOLDIER STEM CELLS by mom

Soon it will be one year that we have been searching for a match, a marrow mate, for Tracy.   I feel like I have been walking around the streets in cyberspace wearing a sandwich board which says, “BE THE MATCH”.   For a year.

There is no limit to a mother’s love and this mom will not give up.   BE THE MATCH has made available to me a community engagement representative and a personal coach with whom I talk on the phone regularly.  The professional folks at BE THE MATCH take patients and families under their wings with comfort and advice while we wait for that sweet “match” for Tracy.  They are grand!!

Donors are treated with the same care and kindness.  Every consideration is given to donors when they are found to be a match for a patient.  There is no cost for them and BE THE MATCH has even paid for transportation, child care, pet sitting and any other need of someone who is so generous to give a bit of themselves for the life of another.  The experience is made as easy as possible. Each donor is a hero deserving of kid gloves and utmost respect.

To the followers of this blog:   Many thanks for loyally staying tuned, for sharing our plea and for participating in the search for Tracy’s very own hero!   Big kudos to those of you who have committed to being marrow donors by joining the registry; you are already life savers in my mind!

When our kids were small I used to tell them that there were little soldiers inside of them who needed really healthy food to take care of business in their bodies. Well, guess what?  Tracy needs some tough guy ‘Manny Pacquio’ stem cell soldiers to vanquish this #%/#*# myeloma!!   And she needs to borrow them from someone.  Manny, where are you?

 

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match

Tracy has blood cancer.  Amy very much wants to donate marrow stem cells to her big sister for the only chance of a cure through a transplant.  But Amy cannot be Tracy’s life saver because they do not “match” closely enough.  Neither do their adoring brothers match with her.  Imagine if you were called upon to to save your sister’s or brother’s life, but were unable to do it.  This family is hurting right now.

We rely on the goodness and selflessness of our Filipino American friends to help.  You see, Tracy dad is Filipino (from Iloilo) and her mom has European lineage.   A match will most likely be found among those of Filipino or mixed Fil Am heritage.  No one presently in the National Marrow Registry of 11 million people is a match!!!  So Tracy waits and waits.  And takes more chemo.

Meanwhile, the one person who can save her is not aware of the awesome gift they hold within themselves.  Would you like to know if it is you?  Or someone in your family?  For those age 18-44, it is easy, painless and free to find out.  Just go to bethematch.org and get on the donor list.  Click on “join”, fill out a simple application and send for a free cheek swab kit in the mail.  Only 1 out of 540 people on the donor list will get the call that they are a match for a patient, and if that happens to you, it will be a moving, life-changing experience!  And LIFE SAVING for the recipient!!  Like the lovely young woman featured here.

Salamat and may God bless us, one and all!

Better Get a Snap

Tracy was frosting a birthday cake for our son this week; he’s turned 16.  She put care into it, picking out colors, fashioning a rainbow, adding little dots here and there on top of a generous layer of chocolate.  As she finished, I pulled her camera out and said, “Wait.  I’d better get a picture of you and the cake before it’s all eaten up.”  “Why? I mean, it’s just…” she began.

Tracy with Noah's CakeA pause.  A mutual glimpse.  Understanding.  Then she nodded as I said the words, “you might not be here for his next cake.”

Tracy’s made it out a year and nearly two months since she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a deadly blood cancer.  Only half of people with myeloma make it out five years before they die.  She still has no match for a transplant of bone marrow cells from a healthy donor, the only treatment that can cure this disease.

I’m writing this message for the young adults out there who are falling in love.  Maybe you’re thinking about children.  Maybe it still feels like it all will last forever.  Maybe you and that special someone are fantasizing about growing old together.  Maybe you’re making those sweet jokes, wondering how you could ever raise a teenager.

Now realize that maybe you won’t get all that together.  Maybe the special he or she in your life will be taken away by myeloma, or leukemia.  It happens.  Or maybe it will be your friends, that fun couple you double date with, who will have that loss.

Feel the pain for a moment.  Then brush it away and do something useful.

There are two very practical things you can do about all this, right now, that are simple, quick, painless and absolutely free (and I remember how important “free” is at your age).

  1. Go to Be The Match, a website of the National Marrow Donor Program, and request a free kit in the mail.  You’ll send back cheek swabs that will be profiled for a small handful of genes indicating the sort of sick person with whom you might match in the future, for whom you could at some point in the next 25 years provide life-saving marrow cells.
  2. Get 5 friends to follow these two steps.

It’s like a wonderful insurance policy, but only if everyone does it.  The person you love has a match out there somewhere, and if you tell 5 people, and those 5 people tell 5 other people, and those 25 people tell 5 people, and those 125 people tell 5 people, then you have just added 625 new matches to the registry.  That will save someone’s life, someone’s love, someone’s future.

Save the future.  Be The Match.