Everyone has been touched by cancer. The sight of tens of thousands of people, packed in a sold-out stadium, all holding up signs with a loved one’s name who has fought the battle — as happens during one game of the World Series each year, as part of Major League Baseball’s partnership with Stand Up 2 Cancer — just socks me right in the gut. My wife and I made the commitment a long time ago that should this book find its way onto shelves and in people’s hands, we would help support the care of pediatric patients and their families who are in hospitals right now. Our additional goal is to encourage people to join the bone marrow registry and potentially save a life.
Each hospital has foundations established to: help therapists obtain items for patients to aid in their treatment or simply to pass the time; assist families with medical, living, and travel expenses while they fight alongside their child; aid in purchasing crucial medical equipment and devices; or help in performing bone marrow transplants and drives. A wonderful list of children’s hospitals can be found through the Children’s Hospital Association.
Many — many — of these kids need a bone marrow match. Which means they need you to get on the registry, because you just might be a match. You can talk to your doctor about the hows and wheres of joining, or visit the National Marrow Donor Program at www.BeTheMatch.org, or the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation at www.giftoflife.org. It’s really a simple process. There will be more steps to complete should you be a potential match for someone, and these sites explain everything, including what will happen should you be called to donate.
There are numerous organizations that raise funds to help further cancer research; a fantastic database of cancer-related interest groups, support groups, and information can be found at Pediatric Oncology Resource Center. This is also a great resource for parents with children going through this battle, with links to other groups and support message boards.
Some frightening statistics: The nonprofit CureSearch for Children’s Cancer says that more than 40,000 children will undergo treatment annually; the American Childhood Cancer Organization estimates more than 13,000 new cases of childhood cancer (children between 0-19 years old) will be diagnosed each year; and according to the National Marrow Donor Program, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer every four minutes, and 70 percent of patients who are in need of a bone marrow transplant must turn to non-family members for a match.
Every person, young or old, fighting this battle has a wish. You just might be their wish come true.