Tag Archives: multiple myeloma

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


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

Clean PET CT

I have some good news to share with you.  I had a PET CT at the very end of February to see how the new chemotherapy regimen is doing, and it was clean.  This means that no metabolically active tumors were seen.  The bone destruction caused by the tumors is still visible, of course.  However, even this seems to healing a little.  This is great news!  I guess technically you could say that I’m in remission for now.

There’s a funny thing about allogeneic transplants.  The patient must be in remission at the beginning of the transplant.  You  may ask yourself, “why would you DO an allogeneic transplant if the patient is in remission?”  Well, we know that myeloma WILL come back, but we don’t know when.  So think of the remission as temporary.  That’s the reason to go ahead with a transplant, especially in a younger patient, when the risk/ benefit calculation tips to the side of benefit.

Now, why couldn’t you go ahead with a transplant in the presence of metabolically active tumors?  There is a period of time after the transplant, lasting weeks to months, when there is no treatment against the myeloma – no chemotherapy, no immune system.  No chemotherapy is given because that would interfere with the establishment of the new immune system.  My immune system is offline during this time, and the new immune system from the donor hasn’t kicked in yet.  It’s like that scene in Star Wars at the end where the defense shields are down.  Eventually the new immune system from the donor will grow and take over and kick the myeloma in the butt, but that takes a while.  So during this vulnerable window the myeloma cells can grow unharassed, unchecked.  Clearly then, it’s incumbent to have the myeloma activity at the lowest level possible at the beginning of this whole process.

If a donor becomes available, but there IS metabolically active myeloma, there are intense things that can be done to the patient to knock the myeloma down right before the transplant – usually some combination of radiation and heavy-duty chemotherapy.  However, this also serves to weaken the patient right before they are going into the fight of their lives, so obviously it’s much better if that does not need to be done.

Hopefully my stars are about to be aligned!

PenBay and Adena Donor Drives

Two days ago there was a stem cell donor drive here at PenBay.  We had a local representative of Be The Match with us, and we signed up just over 20 people to the registry.  Thank you to everyone who helped!

Yesterday there was a stem cell donor drive at Adena Medical Center in my hometown, Chillicothe, Ohio.  This was organized by my amazing mother.  You might remember that she helped organize my sister’s wedding two years ago.  It turns out she is a wicked good event planner!  The Adena drive was a smashing success.  My entire family was there swabbing people, and a representative from Be The Match was there as well.  The bigwigs of the medical center did ceremonial swabbing.  These are my Dad’s old stomping grounds, so Mom assigned him to the greeting table, and he socialized with his old colleagues all day long.  Mom said there were nurses from the OR who said things like, “Dr. Jalbuena!!!  When are you coming back?!”  They signed up just over 100 people.  Mom called me afterward full of spirit, love and joy at the connections she made and reaffirmed there.  Thank you so much to everyone who worked on this!

A reporter from the NBC affiliate in Columbus was there as well, and they aired quite a long piece on the 11 o’clock news last night.  You can watch it through this link.

Next up: donor drive at the James Cancer Center, Ohio State University Medical Center, Thursday, February 5th, 11am to 6pm.  Amazing and thank you!

Biographical Video from Tracy Jalbuena and her Family — Cure Her Cancer, Be the Match!

Watch this short biographical video to learn a little more about emergency room doctor and multiple myeloma patient Tracy Jalbuena:

Thank you so much to Numeriano Jalbuena, Kathy Jalbuena and Amy Jalbuena — Tracy’s father, mother and sister — for telling their family stories as part of this video. Tracy is a strong part of so many people’s lives. She’s been there for others — now it’s time for us to come together for her.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 44, the prime age for healthy donors, please consider visiting this page to sign up for the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s free — and you could save Tracy’s life.

If you aren’t in the age range for bone marrow stem cell donors, would you consider spreading the word? Send an e-mail to friends. Post a link on Facebook. Let the young people in your life know that they can make a difference — and that even if they aren’t a match for Tracy, they may be a match for someone else in need. Thanks.

Why Should You Join the Bone Marrow Registry? Look Around You and Do the Math

Tracy Jalbuena in the Western Maine mountains, July 2014Here on this website, we’ve been writing personal appeals in the hope that you’ll help Tracy Jalbuena find a bone marrow donor who is a match with her human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type.  Someone willing to donate bone marrow stem cells could save her life and cure her deadly multiple myeloma.

I know Tracy as my spouse.  She’s the love of my life.  I know you’d love her if you met her.  She’s a life worth saving.  That’s what drives me to write this appeal.

But what if you don’t know Tracy?  Why should you bother joining the National Bone Marrow Registry if you don’t care two hoots about this somebody named Tracy Jalbuena? There’s a good reason.  Just look around you and do the math.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 0.7% of people will be diagnosed with the deadly blood cancer multiple myeloma at some point in their lives.  0.7% may not sound like much, but let’s put that in perspective relative to the population of the United States, the country where Tracy lives.  As of December 2014, the U.S. population stands at 320,000,000 people.  0.7% of that many people is 2,240,000 people.  At some point in their lives, 2.24 million Americans alive today will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma.  That’s a lot of people with multiple myeloma, a disease for which the only possible cure is an allogeneic transplant of bone marrow stem cells.

So what?  Well, first of all, maybe that person in need will turn out to be you.  By encouraging the people around you to sign up for the National Bone Marrow Registry, you could save your own life at some point in the future.

But of course this isn’t just about you, just as it isn’t just about Tracy.  Think about all of the people you know.  Social scientists have figured out through repeated research that the average person is acquainted with 290 other people.  These are people who you can recognize by sight or name and who you know how to get in touch with.

Imagine those people and ask yourself:

If you could save the life of one of these people you know, would you do it?

What if it were easy to save that person’s life?  

What if it didn’t cost you a penny?

This is not a hypothetical question.  Just do the math.  Of all people alive today, 0.7% will be diagnosed wth multiple myeloma and face the need for the only cure they can get.  0.7% of 290 people is 2.03.  The chances are that two people you know by face or name today have developed or will develop multiple myeloma.

And that’s just the numbers for multiple myeloma.  Did you know that bone marrow stem cell donation saves the lives of people with many more diseases?  They include:

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
Hodgkin lymphoma
Hurler syndrome
Krabbe disease (Globoid-Cell Leukodystrophy)
Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD)
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
Severe aplastic anemia
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)
Sickle cell disease (SCD)
Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS)

People suffering from these diseases are everywhere.  Chances are, you know more than one person who will be hit by one of them.  And you can save their lives.

Why wait?  It’s easy — just fill out a request at bethematch.org and get a free cheek swab kit in the mail.  Sending a sample back in is incredibly simple and painless — you just rub four cheek swabs on the inside of your cheek and put those swabs back in the mail.

Getting tested doesn’t cost you a dime if you’re in the prime target range of 18-44 years of age for health bone marrow.  The National Bone Marrow Registry picks up the expense.

Donating bone marrow stem cells doesn’t cost you a dime either. If you end up being a match, the National Bone Marrow Registry and the health insurance company of the person who needs a transplant will pick up travel costs, lodging costs and medical costs associated with the transplant.

You could be a hero, and not just for someone like Tracy Jalbuena who you don’t know.  Look around you now.  Think about those you know and love.

Now stop thinking and do something about it.  Take five minutes to join the National Bone Marrow Registry.  You have my deep, personal thanks right now.  You might be surprised at who will thank you in the future.

What Cures Multiple Myeloma… Our Kids’ Many Answers… and the Truth

Our family is many things, silly included.  When my beautiful wife Tracy Jalbuena fell ill with the blood cancer Multiple Myeloma, we started putting together videos to call for help. When we asked our son and daughter on camera what could cure Multiple Myeloma, we weren’t surprised to hear something other than the literal truth.

In this video, our kids share their ideas for what might cure multiple myeloma:

The uncomfortable truth we leaven with our fun: the only option with a chance for a cure is an allogeneic transplant of bone marrow stem cells from a donor — a donor who must be a near-perfect match for Tracy.  Most people find a match in the National Bone Marrow Registry, but because of Tracy’s multiethnic heritage her bone marrow type is rare.  There is currently no match available for Tracy.

We’re out of options… unless you or someone you know steps up to the plate, joins the Bone Marrow registry and turns out to be the one — Tracy’s match.

Would you like to be a lifesaver?  To give it a shot, all you have to do is head over to a website called bethematch.org and sign up to be tested for the National Bone Marrow Registry.  It’s easy, it’s painless, and for people aged 18-44 (who statistically have the healthiest marrow) it’s absolutely free.  You can even do it by mail.

Here’s the best part — even if you don’t turn out to be the match for Tracy, you could end up being the match for someone else.  There are thousands of people who need a match to save their lives.  You could do so much good with so little trouble to yourself.  Are you in?  Will you do it?

Even if you can’t or won’t send a sample in, please share this video with your friends, your family, heck even your archnemesis if you think it would be helpful.  And if you can manage just a few moments — please, Be The Match.  Thank you.