Having survived an often-lethal blood disease, I feel a profound obligation to give something back to the cancer community. I can never fully repay my doctors, nurses and staff for saving my life, but I have found several ways to pay it forward as an expression of my gratitude for still being here.
These include visiting with current transplant patients to hear their stories and participating in a study to encourage patients to write their stories to be shared with other patients. Both involvements build on what I learned while writing my book: that while doctors may cure our bodies, being able to tell our stories is what sustains our selves and keeps us whole.
I invite you to become involved in some way as well — whether you are a survivor yourself or care about others who are going through difficult times. There are many organizations and opportunities out there, but I’ll mention several that have become especially important to me.
The Frauenshuh Cancer Center treats a wide variety of cancers in their newly expanded clinic in conjunction with the Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The site describe the range of their services and how people can support their activities.
The Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinic at the University of Minnesota is a world-class pioneer in the field and has been performing transplants for fifty years. Their research and clinical trials inform their life-saving treatments every day. The site describes how to get involved and support their efforts.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is dedicated to curing patients with blood cancers and improving the quality of life of patients and their families The site provides a full description of their activities and a “How to Help” tab that describes many ways you can help them advance their goals of helping blood cancer patients.
Be the Match is a global leader in bone marrow transplantation and conducts research to improve transplant outcomes, provides support and resources for patients, and partners with a global network of donors. The site explains their activities in further detail and has a “Volunteer” tab with numerous ways you can help with this life-saving work.
Gilda’s Club Twin Cities deals with the full spectrum of cancer diagnoses and strives to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community. The site explains their philosophy and has a “support us/volunteer” tab explains how to join their club and make a difference.