Last night my family particpated in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk. We walked with my sisters, stepmom and dad, for my dad. MDS falls under the leukemia 'umbrella', because if untreated, it will develop into leukemia. That's the scariest part of this whole thing.
We called our team, 'Tough Guy's Team'. My dad's a tough guy, in many ways, and it doesn't hurt that I grew up listening to REO Speedwagon and hearing about how many times he heard them at Mississippi Nights back in the day. The front of our shirts read, 'wussie? Who you calling wussie?'. My dad is funny. And he thinks he's funny, which makes him funnier. He loves to do these little quirky things, one of which got this wussie title. If you say to my dad, "we'll see," he responds, "wussie? Who you callin' wussie?" Trust me, it's funny.
After we discovered that none of my dad's siblings were a match, nor was I, the doctors hit the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. The first four donors selected as potential matches, went in for additonal testing, but the results weren't good. Those four were not close enough matches to provide stem cells for my dad. So we're back to the drawing board, and they are currently testing three more potential matches. The testing seems to take at least two weeks, so there's a lot of sitting around and waiting going on. Meanwhile, my dad is still anemic, and very very tired. He sat while we walked last night, which is so not like him, but seems to be the new norm. Driving there, we commiserated about how we'd like to get this whole show going. (I can't imagine the anxiety my dad must be feeling. But of course, he's a tough guy and he seems to handling it well!) There are babies coming, and life to be lived people! Let's get on it!
There were so many walkers and so many lit balloons. Red balloons were given to supporters, white to current fighters and survivors, and gold were in memory of those who have lost their battle. As we walked, we talked about how great the world would be if there were no gold balloons. I saw shirts that read, 'I'm walking for ME', and 'I'm a SURVIVOR'. My dad didn't want the white balloon. We didn't want him to have it either, but it is what it is. So we forced it on him. (Becuase let's face it - we are nothing, if not bossy.) Next year's walk hopefully will have an entirely different tone for our team. My hope is that we can slap a SURVIVOR sticker on my dad and walk with lighter hearts and less anxiety.
We're hosting a Bone Marrow Registry drive this Thursday, October 4th from 4-8 at the St. Charles Lion's Club. Please consider joining the registry, either at the drive, or by going online to BeTheMatch.org. There are a lot of myths out there concerning bone marrow donation, and I encourage you to get the facts.
You could save my dad's life, or someone else's. You can prevent an increase in gold balloons. You can carry a red one.