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My journey to becoming a bone marrow donor is easily the most interesting story and impactful story I've ever been a part of. And it's not because of what I did; it's more a part of who I am and how anyone else can be called upon to do something extraordinary by simply being themselves--all of themselves.
I came to work one day and my life changed forever. I was a young news anchor and reporter in Honolulu, Hawaii and I was given the assignment to cover the story of a man who found an interesting golf ball. Halfway through his basket at the driving range, Chris Pablo noticed an older, scuffed up ball among the bunch. Curious he plucked it out and inspected it. On the side he saw the words BEAT LEUKEMIA. Here's the kicker, Chris had leukemia. He was diagnosed just three weeks prior. Despite near impossible odds, Chris later found a lifesaving bone marrow match in a man who was a double amputee.
The golf ball discovery and tsunami of media coverage set into motion a series of other miracles as heartwarming as the Hawaiian sun. The family of two-year-old leukemia patient Alana Dung asked for similar coverage to drive people to their daughter's bone marrow registration drives. The chance of matching any one person and going to transplant is about one in 200. Of the 30,000 who came out to help Alana, more than 86 went to transplant. I am one of the 86. Quietly and away from cameras I registered as a potential donor on the final day of Alana's drive. Four years later I got the call that I was the only match in the world for a 16-year-old boy with cancer whom I'd never met. The storyteller you could say became a major part of the storyline in the attempt to save a life.
The Marrow in Me tells the full story of what's involved in one of the most interesting, but often misunderstood life saving missions. Does it hurt? And would I have the guts to have marrow sucked out of my bones? The Marrow in Me answers all the relevant questions.
The Marrow in Me ends with me returning to my one time island home to run in the Honolulu Marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training to honor the boy who received my marrow. During the trip I experienced a St. Jude Faith Affirmation that's as funny as it is inspiring. Jude must have a sense of humor because it happened in a Hawaiian Airlines DC-10 bathroom. And welcoming me back to the islands was Chris Pablo, the man who started my bone marrow journey. Chris gave me a box of golf balls with the words BEAT LEUKEMIA stamped on the side and instructions to lose them. The balls are now scattered across America. One day someone like Chris Pablo will find one, sparking new stories of inspiration and miracles like The Marrow in Me.