Twenty three years ago my baby brother, who is now taller and stronger than me, underwent a life saving transplant that gifted our family the precious gift of time. He wasn’t expected to survive past the age of three. Back then, his blood disorder was incredibly rare and relatively unstudied or documented in medical books. Our family didn’t have the resources and support that many Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome families have today, but we survived. We persevered. We made it. And I was lucky enough to be his marrow match.
When I think about my childhood and the turbulence that is inevitable when a loved one is battling an illness, I am filled with so many emotions. While you may think sadness or anger or grief at what is lost rise to the top of that list, the truth is I feel none of those things. Instead, I am overcome with gratitude, love, and such a deep appreciation for the fragility of life. So while I wish more than anything I could take away the memories of the pain my brother had to endure for the first 11 years of his life, I wouldn’t want to take away any of the memories of mine. I would live that life over in a heartbeat. You see, it taught me that all we have in the time we are here is to love one another deeply and unconditionally. It taught me to value people and memories over things and stuff. It taught me that every breath, every moment, every day is a blessing and a gift we are never promised, and you need to appreciate it while you live it. Not a day from now, not a month from now. Now.
So my ask of you this year, despite times being really tough, is to help save lives. We all hold something special within that could be the key to granting someone else the gift of life and the gift of time. Those magic little cells on a cheek swab could save your brother, your sister, your best friend or a stranger who also has people who love him or her so dearly. For any of you that have the privilege of knowing my brother Christopher, you know what an amazing soul my built in best friend is. He brings a light to what, at times, can be a dark world. Even after all he has endured he still shines brighter than most. Each and every one of you has your very own version of Christopher. Now imagine for a moment, your life without that person. I certainly can’t image mine.
How YOU can help!
1. Get registered as a potential marrow donor! You never know when you could be someone’s cure.
2. Donate financially. I know that there are so many equally worthy charities out there, but if you could find it in your heart to donate to this amazing organization, I would be forever grateful. Funds raised help with growing the Be The Match Registry, helping patients with uninsured costs, and supporting transplant research. NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL.
If you've made it this far. Much love. I couldn't continue to do what I do without your amazing support year after year. I am blessed to know so many kind and wonderful souls. xo, bethany