Did you know that every three minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer? Yet, many people don’t know that they can be the cure for patients with blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases. The best part? To register as a potential marrow donor, it’s as simple as a cheek swab.
Today marks the first day of National Blood Cancer Awareness Month, giving us yet another reason to raise awareness for critically ill patients in need of a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant.
Be The Match® is the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on saving lives through marrow and cord blood transplantation. The organization works to register committed potential marrow donors to the Be The Match Registry® every day, because 70 percent of patients do not have a fully matched donor in their family.
At PadillaCRT, we are passionate about our work with Be The Match. We help them raise awareness of the need for more potential donors to join the registry. Throughout this work, our message can vary to highlight the need for people of color, committed donors and even young, male donors. However, there is one thing we can leverage to reach all of these audiences: personal stories.
In communications, it’s rare to have a tactic so powerful that it can be used to reach all of your audiences – and it’s even rarer to have something that can also resonate with them so personally. The thing is, those who have been impacted by blood cancer typically know of Be The Match and the importance of joining the Be The Match Registry. However, it’s not always easy for those who haven’t been touched by blood cancer to understand how easy it is for them to possibly save a life, and that’s where these stories come in.
The personal stories we share are of patients currently searching for a matching marrow donor, transplant recipients and donors. Each story is unique, but always powerful in teaching the reader how they can change the life of a stranger, their family and loved ones by joining the registry. While it’s not guaranteed that someone will be called to donate – only 1 in every 430 U.S. Be The Match Registry members go on to donate to a patient – it is important that all potential donors are committed to the cause.
When it comes to marrow donation, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the donation process. Often, television shows, movies and books portray marrow donation as a painful and scary process – when the reality is that it is an easy process that most donors would do time and time again if they could. The stories we share help dispel these myths and show how truly amazing it is to be a donor.
These stories come full circle when patients are finally able to meet the selfless donor who saved their lives. A wonderful example of this is Kyle Crawford, who was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia at age four, and his life-saving donor Lieutenant Kawika Segundo. Finding a match for Kyle was even more complicated because he’s half Caucasian and half Chinese, but thanks to the selfless act of Lt. Segundo (who also happens to be a Purple Heart recipient) Kyle is now a healthy, normal 9-year-old boy.
Photo credit: Amy Anderson Photography