Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Brother: Kicking Cancer's Butt for Eighteen Years! (UPDATED)

This post is revived from five years ago. I decided it was time to share our story, again.

There we are... ages three and one. Aren't we cute?

Eighteen years ago, my brother, "Bubba," was diagnosed with erythroleukemia. He was 17 years old.

Erythroleukemia is a rare type of leukemia that accounts for only 3-5% of new acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) cases. It differs from most forms of leukemia in that it affects the red blood cells, rather than the white.

Although we were different blood types (he was O+ and I was A+), testing showed that our chromosomal match was close enough for me to donate bone marrow for my brother.

You may have heard that donating bone marrow is a painful process. I won't lie. You heard right.

When I came out of my general anesthesia-induced sleep, I felt like the victim of a blanket party. My hipbones were literally black and blue from the pressure exerted upon them to withdraw the marrow.

I'm not sharing these details to make me look like a hero.

The real hero was several floors above me, receiving 850 ccs of my bone marrow through a Hickman line. (He was so hip he had a "triple Hick," with three tubes, so he could get the orange Kool-aid colored chemo mix, a blood cocktail and a beer, all at the same time.)

On the pain scale, I rank donating bone marrow with giving birth. It's the kind of pain that I never thought twice about because the result was so valuable. Sure, it may be uncomfortable for a few days or even a few weeks... but what would you sacrifice to possibly save a life?

My brother's blood type is now the same as mine (A+). Our blood DNA is the same. If you placed blood samples from each of us side-by-side and examined the DNA structure, they would be identical.

I've had eighteen more years with my brother because I was a viable match for a life-saving bone marrow transplant. He truly is my hero, and I love him more than I can say.

Would you do the same for someone who needed a bone marrow transplant? Would you be more inclined to do so if it didn't cost you anything?

Be the Match Registry (formerly known as the National Marrow Donation Program (NMDP) Registry) provides marrow typing and registry, which can match you with a recipient to potentially save a life. The online registration process consists of a few basic questions. Once you apply, the Registry will send you a cheek swab kit to complete and send back for typing so that you may be added to the Registry and matched with potential recipients.

Please, consider registering. You may save a life... I did.

If you'd prefer not to register or are unable to because of medical conditions that prohibit your registration, please consider making a donation to the Registry. It costs about $100 to add an individual to the registry, and the program ends up providing about half the cost. Contributions are necessary to grow the Registry and find matches for those needing life-saving bone marrow transplants.

My brother is my hero. Will you be someone's hero?

Please comment to let me know when you join. Time is running out for some recipients. I'd love to celebrate your decision with you!

If you have the ability, please share this post on your own blog or social media account (click on "Share This" below this post) or email the link to your contacts. Let's see how many people we can get to register in the next 60 days!

I'll leave you with my favorite photo of my brother and me, taken in 2000 - four years post-transplant:


See the comments section for news on how people are helping. Please pass on any action you take or hear of so that I may add it! Thank you!


  1. This is beautiful.

  2. What a great story. I'm glad your brother is doing so well. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Awesome personal story. And educational. I never knew it was so easy to register.

  4. You make a compelling argument. Not only did you save your brother's life, but now you can steal chocolate, leave DNA, and blame the crime on your brother. Perfect!

  5. To be honest, I didn't know it was so easy now, either.

    Back in 1996, when I was typed, it required a blood test.

  6. Thanks to Eva W., who just notified me via Facebook that she's registered!

    *happy dance* Celebrate... WOO HOO!

  7. Props to Art C., who reports by email that he's been on the list for 15 years!

    More props to Sheri C., who just emailed Mr. Wright that she's registered!

    Many thanks to my Auntie, who mass-forwarded this post on to people in her contact list!

    See, guys? We're really doing it!

  8. The following Tweeps are spreading the word:






    @WeParent (who shared that a bone marrow transplant helped her mother survive several years)

    Thanks to all for the RTs and the Twitterlove!

  9. thank you for visiting my blog as i am very thankful that i read your post. you taught me a lot! that is an awesome show of love and i enjoyed learning about bone marrow transplanting.

  10. I just started the registration process - I had to do a 'save and come back later' because I have to look up some addresses since I don't have my parent's and aunt's addresses memorized...I know, I got lazy with technology and let it do all the 'remembering' for me...(grin!!) But I love the idea of being able to potentially help, and the registration process is so easy!

    What an awesome thing you did for your brother - and I had to LOL at Lynn's comment... ;)

  11. Very, very cool! Stopping in for a late VGNO...hoping you had a great weekend.

  12. That is incredibly inspiring. I know I'd do the same for my brother in a heartbeat.

    I'm going to go see if I'm eligible to become registered now.

  13. More wonderful Tweeps are spreading the word:



    @REALTORdad (that's Mr. Wright!)



    @BeTheMatch (this is the official Twitter profile for the marrow registry!)

    Also, William A. reported to Mr. Wright that he's been on the list for ten years! w00t!

  14. Replies
    1. They put *me* to sleep. Some donors opt for local, rather than general, anesthesia. :)


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