Sharing Americas Marrow: An Unconventional Journey

01 January, 2016 0 comments Leave a comment

Sharing America's Marrow - Car Decal

Today we want to share with you something we at Nudge Printing feel passionate about – becoming a bone marrow donor. We’ve had the opportunity to partner with and support the journey of some amazing ladies as they travel the country raising awareness, helping people join the registry, and collecting donations. Check out their website here. You’ll be happy you did. 

While some are better equipped to help others through creating personalized decals and getting the word out on important issues, others buy a van and travel the country to take action and fight on the front lines. Every effort counts. Though we are unable to be on the road with them, we can honor the hard work of these women over the last year and brag a little for them of all they’ve accomplished. We recently had the privilege of chatting with Sam and Alex to learn more about them and get a glimpse into the journey they’ve been on. 

What sparked the idea to travel to all 50 states? 

Traveling to all 50 states was really Alex’s idea. Once she mentioned that it was a possibility, it kind of stuck and we just went after it. We figured that it would be the best way to get the word out to as many people as possible. It also allowed us to live out an epic bucket list year.

What is the greatest or most unexpected blessing from your travels?

One of the greatest blessings that we’ve experienced from traveling all around the country this year has been meeting patients and donors. Getting to talk and laugh with somebody that would not be alive without the kindness of their donor has been very special for us. We’ve also gotten to witness such amazing beauty all over this country!

What is the biggest challenge you have faced while being on the road? 

The biggest challenge we’ve faced this year is getting people to agree to join the registry. There are so many misconceptions about bone marrow donation that prevent people from even taking a few extra seconds to hear us out. People think donating is terribly painful but in reality, 75% of the time donating is like giving platelets or plasma. And if you do give marrow from the back of the hip bone, you are placed under anesthesia so you don’t feel any pain during the procedure!

What do you do for fun while traveling? 

We spend A LOT of time in the car so we try to find new music to listen to. Sometimes we’ll listen to books on tape. More often than not though, we’ll just talk. We’ve driven over 20,000 miles together and we still haven’t run out of things to talk about.

How does someone join the marrow registry and is it easy to do?

Joining the bone marrow registry could not be any easier! All it takes is filling out some contact information and doing a 20 second swab of the inside of the cheek. You can even register online at sharingamericasmarrow.com and have a cheek swab sent to you in the mail!

How does being a donor help other people and what encourages people the most to join the registry? 

There are about 15,000 people that need a bone marrow transplant each year for various illnesses like leukemia, lymphoma, and aplastic anemia. Patients fighting these diseases have a very hard time finding a matching donor because there simply aren’t enough donors in the registry. If you match and donate to a patient, you can completely save their life! You can be the cure for that patient that they would not have if it wasn’t for you. People are often encouraged to join the registry when we let them know that they could be the one person in the entire world that can save somebody’s life. 

Who is the most interesting person that you have met? 

We’ve met so many fascinating people this year that it is almost impossible to choose just one to talk about. Recently, we met a young guy named William and his story and his extreme kindness really stuck out to us. He donated stem cells to a woman when he was 19 and they got to meet for the first time at her wedding, a wedding that would have never happened without William’s donation! William was treated like royalty at the wedding and was given a standing ovation for saving the bride’s life. Such an epic story.

Any good movies or concerts that you’ve attended during your travels? 

We love going to the movies. It’s one of the only activities that makes us feel like we live a “normal” life! We’ve seen Pitch Perfect 2, Paper Towns, Magic Mike 2 (whoops), and a few others. We’ve also gone to some amazing concerts: James Bay, Halsey, Bahamas, and Chvrches.

What is your most frequently asked question as you travel? 

Strangely, the most frequently asked question that we get is “who drives the van?” We do! People seem to think we have some chauffeur that takes us from state to state. 

What is your best life advice/encouragement for people in your similar situation? 

Battling a life-threatening illness or watching a family member battle a life-threatening illness is enormously difficult. No one ever wants to receive a diagnosis of cancer or a similar disease. When we got that diagnosis though, we knew our lives would change completely and we immediately sought out a way to make what happened to us worth it. To turn it into good for other people. That and taking it one day at a time. That’s all you can do! 

We hope you feel inspired to take the next step and join the registry to become a donor. The action is small and simple but can truly save someone’s life. Our thanks to Sam and Alex for spending time answering our questions and more importantly, for pursuing a life that creates a difference for those around you.

Ready to register?? Click here!

By: Alison Whittaker

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