Smile for the camera
This afternoon I had the privilege of doing a portrait shoot at my home for Gwinnett Magazine‘s “Heroes Project.” Gwinnett Magazine periodically features fighters & survivors of various types of cancer to raise awareness and to inspire people to get involved in the fight against “the Big C.”
When Danny the photographer called to set up the appointment, he asked if I would like a professional hair and make-up stylist to get me ready. REALLY?? What woman with chemo-head who hasn’t worn much make-up in seven months says “no, thank you.”? When you are offered a breath mint, you should always accept graciously.
So today I am wearing false eyelashes for the first time ever. They don’t look as caterpillar-y as I thought. Candace did a great job with what she had to work with. The pressure is on Danny to show his photoshop genius with the rest. (My mom took these pics)
I am honored to be among the people in this year’s Heroes Project because I’m a shameless promoter of bone marrow/blood stem cell donation and blood products donation. I didn’t know the extent of blood cancers until I got one.
Another mom in search of a donor match
After the photo shoot, mom and I went out on the town. I couldn’t let all this make-up go unnoticed! After getting some prescriptions refilled, mom and I went out to lunch. Ljai, the woman who served us was absolutely delightful and we joked about motherhood and teenagers. I shared that I had to have bone marrow failure in order for my mother to finally retire. Except she didn’t get to retire ~ she moved to Georgia and became my 24/7 caregiver. I’m almost seven months post-blood stem cell transplant and we’ve been able to relive those teen years (mom talks to me like I’m a kid and I respond like a bratty teenager).
At the end of our meal, Ljai shared that her 3 year old son, Shawn Adam, is in need of a bone marrow donor. He has sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia. Sickle cell is one of more than 70 blood diseases that can be cured with allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplants. No one in their family is a match for Shawn Adam.
Mom and I were close to tears as we talked with this amazing woman. She did not wear her worry on her sleeve and shared only after I mentioned my experience. We told her about the swab drives our family and friends have done and our plans to continue to build the marrow donor registries. She gave me permission to share our brief encounter here and we will follow up with her (when she’s not working) to organize more swab drives in honor of her sweet little boy.
We hadn’t planned on going out to lunch, much less at this particular restaurant. Ljai said she wasn’t scheduled to work today; she picked up this shift at a co-worker’s request. Then we were seated in her section. Then I slipped in “bone marrow transplant” into a casual conversation. Then she shared her very real need to find a match for her son.
Coincidence? A G-d Thing? The Universe? Whatever you call it, three moms were brought together with a shared urgency and understanding of the need for more bone marrow/stem cell donors. Stay tuned for upcoming plans!