I’m the first to tell anyone that I gained a lot and my life is far better than it was before my cancer experience. While I wouldn’t wish cancer on anybody, I am richer for the experience — stronger marriage, amazing and encouraging friends, a rewarding platform to help others facing serious illness and so much more.
There has been loss, though. My dignity disappeared somewhere around the third or fourth rectal probe. A handful of important and once close friends are no longer around. My career changed, by my choice. And physically, of course, I no longer have a rectum and most days I can’t feel the ground beneath my feet.
I had to give up something else recently — I had to take my name off the National Marrow Donor Registry. My cancer experience makes me ineligible.
I have known this for a while; I can no longer donate blood either, which is tough for a guy who used to do so almost every time he was eligible. The Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin, where I began donating in high school, gave donors lapel pins when they reached donation milestones, like six pints, twelve pints, etc. I had quite a collection of pins before I moved to Tennessee. At Medic Blood Center, donors receive T-shirts, and I used to have quite a stash of them.
I came thisclose to becoming a bone marrow donor just a few years ago. The Blood Center tracked me down to let me know I was a possible match for a gentleman with cancer, and I needed to submit to additional blood tests. Unfortunately, the man passed away before the needed tests could be performed.
After a conversation about blood donation and my inability to do so during a meeting of our Worksite Wellness Committee (I’m proud to be a member), I sent an email to the National Marrow Donor Registry, where I have been registered as a potential donor since I was 18. I told them about my medical history and that, unfortunately, I needed to come off the list. I got an email back confirming my removal from the pool of potential donors.
The email was very nice, but the whole experience was sad. One more thing to lose and grieve because of cancer.
On the upside, I can encourage my friends, family and blog readers who are eligible to donate blood and to become registered with the National Marrow Donor Program.
It’s easy and you could save a life.