26 April 2006

with wings


I recently learned that my step sister is no longer in remission from her battle with MDS. (mylodyspasia) Heidi was diagnosed back in 2001 and we have all been experiencing ups and downs as we follow her battle.

I feel that my experiences that year, experiencing 9-11, losing a friend on Flight 77 and knowing others who were first hand witness to the atrocity AND learning about Heidi's illness have profoundly formed who I am today and the way I think. Shortly after we learned of Heidi's illness I felt compelled to DO SOMETHING and began the task of educating myself on bone marrow illeness and bone marrow drives. In 2002 I griuped with several of Heidi's closest friends to host a Bone Marrow drive. It was a huge learning experience and a magnified glimpse at humanity. Long story short, we tested nearly 500 people that day and turned away easily a 100 more. Unfortunately none of those tested, including her family was a match to Heidi who has a rare set of antigens which are difficult to match.

Armed with the knowledge that so many people DO care, WILL set aside their lives for a few hours to help someone in need, Heidi and I learned big lessons in attitude and faith. Following, we hosted yet another drive to try to retest those who couldn't be tested the first time and I moved on to work at other drives, feeling that I was called to this work . I became busy and had a child. 3 years have passed and while I have kept in touch, participated in a few drives and continually tried to raise money, I feel that with the news of Heidi's blood cell counts dropping I need to venture back into the pool of activity. I have taken some steps to reconnect with a fabulous resource in the local Rotary International chapters here in Central California.

I guess my reason in posting this today, is twofold. First, its in my mind, the front of my mind; and today seemed like the day to share it outloud with those of you who care and might like to take a small step toward potentially saving a life... and giving someone new wings!

Get tested! Getting tested for Bone Marrow is easy, its a simple blood test. You must be between the ages of 18-60 in good health and get a small needle stick. Often with advanced notification you can get the test done at a Red Cross associated blood drive. For more information visit these links:


  1. Okay, I am definitely going to do this in the very near future. Thanks for the links and information. I'm thinking about and praying for your sister!

  2. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of blood donation and testing. I am often compelled to donate but make excuses for reasons why not to (too busy, forgot etc..). There is no excuse to big or important not too. I will do this asap. If not for your sister, hopefully for someone else. :)

    btw, I am Joleen's Aunt and I read your post frequently. Take care and try to stay positive for your sis!

  3. Go Heather!! I am a big supporter of blood donations if for no other reason than it doesn't cost you anything but a little bit of time and it changes lives forever. I started donating blood after 9/11 when I sat safe and watching in horror from my living room in Canada. It helped me feel like I was doing something. I also made sure that my family all have valid organ donor cards as well. I keep donating blood because I know if I were in dire need, I would be reliant on the kindness of strangers too. Ultimately, all we have is each other and if not me, then who?

    I hope your step sister will go back into remission.