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Rantings, thoughts, diatribe. Anything that captures my interest and hangs around long enough to capture on a keyboard.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Emily Needs Stem Cells

Last week I read about Emily Sun, a 36 year old mum of one from Perth, Western Australia who is dying of cancer.  

Emily was first diagnosed in 2010 and went on to battle Non-Hodgkin’s Primary Mediastinal Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (PMBCL) not one, but two times. 

Recently she discovered that the cancer has returned. Doctors have told her that in order to have a last fighting chance, she needs a stem cell transplant from a matching donor.

Problem is, there is currently no donor.  There is no stem cell match for Emily on the international registry. 

Emily is of Chinese descent. She would have the best chance of finding a stem cell match with someone of Oriental descent.

Problem is, people of Oriental descent are very, very low on the international stem cell/bone marrow donor registry.

I don't know why this is. Orientals love pain and suffering. Anyone that grew up watching HK-TVB family dramas knows this.  There was always someone threatening to kill themselves with a cleaver or throw themselves off a high balcony to defend family honor. 

Compared to cleaver, what's a little prick of a needle? 

Emily has a little boy called Luke who is five and who loves dinosaurs. I read some of Emily's blog entries on her website about having cancer and loving your child. I think both Emily and Luke are extremely brave.  

Emily & Luke
(courtesy of Catherine Jupp Photographic Art
How does one hold the love of one's child and one's threatened mortality together in the one thought. How can the heart bear it?

Emily is aware that she has to go all out. In order to increase her chances at finding a stem cell/bone marrow match, she has gone public and started a social media campaign in order to try and encourage people, especially Orientals, to become stem cell/bone marrow donors.  

In her blog, she talks about how this kind of public appeal is very un-Oriental in nature; given the Chinese mentality of keeping your suffering to yourself. She is doing this, she says, as she promised her boy that she would do everything she could to survive.  That she would leave no stone unturned.

Emily and I have a similar life trajectory. Both born in Hong Kong. Both spent time in the UK.  Both reared in Perth, Western Australia. Both went to Murdoch University in said Perth. Both studied creative writing at said university. Both married to non-Orientals.  Both have bred one small child.  Both in our late thirties. It's a wonder we've never met.  I hope far into the future we will, even if it means to walk past each other on the street. I want Emily to walk down the street a long time from now.

Today I represented the Oriental race as I registered to become a stem cell/bone marrow donor. I say this as I was the only Oriental person I saw at my blood donor session. 

So today I saved face for all you lot out there with that pint of blood in your system that could save many lives. 

You don't have to thank me. Just donate blood and register to become a stem cell/bone marrow donor. You can register here.

When you go to the blood bank, ask to fill in a registration form for the British Bone Marrow registry.  Part of the blood you donate will then be assessed to see if it is match for anyone on the international registry. 

If it is - well then, you have a chance to help save someone's life.

How often does that happen to you?

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