January 16th marked the one year anniversary of my dad's successful stem cell transplant.
On that day, one year ago, we anxiously awaited the arrival of stem cells from an anonymous donor. We'd wondered about him, prayed for him, hoped he'd remain healthy and able to donate. We worried about him - would those shots hurt, would he be okay, would he change his mind. We'd worried about my dad's progress in the hospital - so much chemo so quickly to wipe out everything in anticipation of these stem cells.
As we waited, the nurses gave us updates. Stem cells are in transit. Stem cells are in the hospital. Stem cells are at the lab. Stem cells are leaving the lab. STEM CELLS ARE HERE!
They hooked that bag up to my dad, and let them flow into him. I did a little cheer, we prayed some more, we put good juju on them, we crossed our fingers and toes and wished those stem cells to be superheroes. All the while we were ever so grateful and thankful for the superhero who had donated them.
After a year, you can contact the donor organization and release your contact information if you want to try and contact your donor. On January 17th, my stepmom did just that. And wouldn't you know it? The donor did as well!
One year ago, we didn't know that our hero donor was in the same metro area donating those cells. We didn't know that our friend Denise at Be The Match was there at his donation and KNEW they were coming to my dad. For a year, she and Jeff (also our Be The Match friend) knew who my dad's donor was. They knew he lived in St. Louis. They saw both him and my dad at the Be The Match run. And they kept quiet, because they had to. But once the names were exchanged - woo hoo!
My dad spoke with the donor and his wife on the phone recently. Prior to them talking, my dad had asked me, "what do you even say to this person? How can 'thank you' ever be enough?" And then he tossed in the Looney Tunes, "I will love him and pet him and squeeze him and call him George!"
They talked for an hour.
We will all meet him on Saturday February 8th at a trivia night that in part benefits Be The Match as well as the National Marrow Donor Program. What do we say to this man? What do we say to this husband and father of three? (Yes, we did a little internet recon.) Thank you won't do, but it's certainly a beginning.
I can't wait.