The following is an excerpt from an article posted on KUOW by UW Sociology Professor Alexes Harris…
I’m a Woman of Color with Cancer. Here’s Why I Can’t Find a Bone Marrow Donor
“When Professor Alexes Harris learned she had a rare form of leukemia, she knew she was in a fight for her life. But she didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find a bone marrow match as a woman of color. This is her story.
I have a rare blood cancer called myelodysplastic syndrome.
I was diagnosed in May 2016 after a year of various tests. Prior to being diagnosed, my only health complaints were a random onset of what felt like asthma attacks during my cycling classes (the only reason I went to the doctor), feeling very tired, and not always thinking clearly. I was told that if I did not begin treatment right away I would have two years to live…
…After being presented with treatment options, we opted for an intensive round of in-patient chemotherapy, which I underwent in June 2016 and managed symptoms in July, 2016. During my initial diagnosis I learned that I would eventually need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. This would be my only hope of a cure.
We immediately started research to learn about how matches were found and I discovered that because I am a person with a mixed race and ethnic background (African American, Filipino and white) I would have a difficult time finding a full donor match.
While whites have a 75 percent chance of finding a full match in the existing bone marrow registry, African Americans only have a 19 percent likelihood of finding a match. African Americans comprise only 7 percent of the United States registry…
…This is why we are organizing a national bone marrow donation registry campaign. I want to make my cancer matter, so my great friends stepped in to make this happen. Our goal is to have 4,000 new people registered by this effort. We need people of all backgrounds to become potential matches to help people like me live.
…You can learn a lot about my story and this campaign at teamalexes.com. We had bone marrow registries in five cities last fall — Seattle, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, D.C., and New York.
Please consider signing up for the bone marrow registry. You can literally be a superhero and save someone’s life.”