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"Keep Smiling" my friend!


Pat Killingsworth was a fighter, an advocate, someone who always spoke his mind, and was always there to help others.   I'll mostly remember Pat as a friend. 

Gerry Landy, co-leader of the Stillwater, MN Myeloma Support group shared with me the following:  

"As you know, Pat was a very active member of the Stillwater, MN support group before he moved to Florida.  In fact he would pepper my wife, Annie, with questions about blog writing, website editing and self publishing.  We knew he was up to something but I don't think even he had any inkling as to how popular (and influential) he would become in the Myeloma community.  It was an honor to know him and a pleasure to see his success.   As was the case with the passing of Mike Katz, it's up to the rest of us to honer him by carrying on with his work."

The IMF helped Pat and his co-founders to start the Nature Coast, Florida myeloma support group in 2010.   Pat was a quick learner and even back then wanted to help as many people as possible.  We invited Pat to come to the American Society of Hematology meetings in San Diego in 2011, and although his back hurt every day, he soldiered on and attended as many oral and poster sessions as possible so he could bring the information back to other patients and caregivers.  Pat came to ASH with the IMF in 2011 (San Diego), 2012 (Atlanta), and 2013 (New Orleans).  Each ASH program was chock full of hope that Pat reported back by blogging and sharing his observations and opinion.

In 2012 Pat came with the IMF to the annual Support Group Leader Summit.  He was a 1st timer there, and looking back at a blog he wrote, I'd like to share a quote from our dear friend:

"Sure, the primary goal of the Support Group Leader Summit was to bring back lots of ideas and information to our respective support groups.  But in one short weekend, I was able to turn a dozen former acquaintances--along with more than twice that many survivors, caregivers and IMF team members that I just met--into at I hope will be life-long friends."

Here's Pat's full blog from the Summit: 


Pat was tireless, always asking questions and sharing his knowledge.  His good work helped so many myeloma patients and caregivers.  Rest in Peace my friend, knowing that your life mattered.

"Keep Smiling" my friend!

Robin Tuohy

A Myeloma Patient Seminar, Italian Style

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More than 100 people gathered in the town of Udine, Italy last week for a lively and informative myeloma patient event hosted by the Italian blood cancer patient group AIL Pazienti (Associazione Italiana contro le Leucemie, Linfomi e Mieloma).

The Udine group is an extremely active chapter of the AIL, which has more than 400 volunteers working throughout the year organizing events, fundraising and raising awareness of multiple myeloma.

The April 18th event was led by Maria Grazia Santuz, President of AIL Udine, and Giuseppe Gioffre, the organization's chief administrator, and focused on educating myeloma patients and their loved ones. An impressive lineup of speakers was followed by lively Q&A sessions.

Included in the day's proceedings were presentations from Dr. Renato Zambello of  Padova, who spoke on myeloma therapies for the young; Dr. Filippo Gherlinzoni of Treviso, who addressed therapy options for elderly patients; Dr. Norbert Pescota of Bolzano, who spoke about treatment options; Dr. Fabio Barban of Udine, who spoke about putting patients at the center of the cure process; Vittorio Meneghini of Verona, who spoke on treatment options; Margherita Venturini of Udine, who covered the management of treatment side effects and supportive therapy; and Francesca Patriarca of Udine, who concluded the meeting by explaining new clinical trials, drug treatments and cellular therapy for multiple myeloma.

A poetry reading by actress Sonia Cossettini served as a lovely antidote to the day's strong focus on myeloma treatment, education and awareness. As with any successful program of this kind, the AIL event was a highly collaborative, drawing speakers from across Italy to share their expertise and insights for the benefit of the multiple myeloma patients. Special thanks to Paola Angaroni and Melania Quattrociocchi of AIL Rome for their support.

Nadia Elkebir
IMF Director of Europe and the Middle East

Dr. Renato Zambello

Dr. Filippo Gherlinzoni

Dr. Norbert Pescosta

Dr. Vittorio Meneghini

Dr. Francesca Patriarca

Maria Grazia Santuz

Fabio Barban

Renato Fanin

Nadia Elkebir, IMF

AIL Volunteers

Guiseppe & Nadia

Paola & Melania

Photos courtesy : Dario Paoli 


Donkey in Albany.jpg
Myeloma can be a stressful diagnosis - not only for patients but also their loved ones. Graphic novelist Sarita Johnson learned this first-hand in 2010 when her partner Susan was diagnosed with the disease.

Sarita and Susan had just spent a month on vacation in New Mexico, exploring what life would be like in the small town where they hoped to retire. Susan was experiencing mysterious pain in her back and numbness in her legs. It was so bad, they cut the trip short. Shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with cancer. The news was "devastating," Sarita said. While Susan went in for tests and treatments, Sarita turned to the one thing she knew best: art. 

"While hanging out in the hospital with her and racked with anxiety, I decided that documenting the experience would be good therapy for me," Sarita said.

Sarita began sketching her experiences, chronicling the hospital visits, the tests, the sleepless nights, the worry, and the love - all in a new and unique graphic novel she titled A Donkey in Albany: A Year with Multiple Myeloma. The title comes from an image Sarita said calmed her in the earlier days of diagnosis, when the future seemed bleak. The story spans the first year after Susan's diagnosis, from diagnosis to steam cell transplant.

"I remember saying to myself, 'Gosh, I wish I could just ride a donkey along an empty desert highway, with the sun painting everything warm,'" Sarita said.

"I have a chapter called Myeloma 101 in which I explain in the simplest and clearest of terms what the disease is. It's one of my favorite chapters because not only is it visually enjoyable, but also it helped clarify for me what exactly was going on with Susan. The real focus of the book is actually my experience as a caregiver and how I found strength such a harrowing year," Sarita said.

Sarita has published her comic, page by page, on her blog (http://www.donkeyinalbany.com) with the hope that it will help other myeloma patients, whether they are looking for an escape or want to learn more about the disease by way of one family's myeloma experience. Sarita welcomes comments and feedback from other myeloma patients and their family members. She also hopes a publisher will soon pick up the title so it can touch and inspire even more lives.

"I want to make sure that this particular story gets out and read as soon as possible," Sarita said. "There is still no cure for myeloma, which means that families are still suffering because of it. So, I think it could be helpful and validating to others who are also going through this disease."


The first week of November 2014 saw the IMF co-hosting three Patient & Family Seminars in Norway and Denmark, where leaders from international patient associations came together with acclaimed speakers to discuss the latest in myeloma news and treatments. It was an opportunity for the IMF to make international patients aware of our resources and bring the global myeloma community even closer together. I had the pleasure of attending the meetings, and now you can follow along on my journey with this recap of events.

The Patient & Family Seminar in Trondheim, Norway kicked off on November 1st with Dr. Anders Waage of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, moderating/translating and Dr. Angela Dispenzieri from Mayo Clinic leading a discussion on monitoring, potentially preventing, and treating complications of myeloma. New treatments for myeloma were also a hot topic during this meeting. The Norwegian patients really appreciated having a speaker from abroad come to their city to speak about myeloma. In fact, there was such a demand for attendance that the meeting actually hit capacity at almost 200 participants, and a few had to be turned away.

Other presentations delivered during the seminar included:

"Pain and Physical Activity with Myeloma," presented by Janne Anita Sundfær, RN
"Awareness and Coping," which was presented by Tone Hansen, Director, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden. Norway. Tone is also the leader of Blodkreft Foreningen (the Norwegian patient association) and an excellent psychologist. Her talk was uplifting for both patient and caregivers.
"Clinical Studies in Norway for Patients Diagnosed with Myeloma" from Dr. Waage
"Learning and Mastery Groups for Patients Diagnosed with Myeloma," from Turid Almvik, RN
"Emotional and Physical Effects of Recurrence," presented by a Celgene representative

Though many of the aforementioned presentations were medical in nature, designed to educate the participants about various aspects and stages of myeloma, there was much room for individual patients to ask questions and share their stories, as well.

The Patient & Family Seminar truly brought together patients and medical professionals alike.


On November 4th, a second Patient & Family Seminar was held, this time in Oslo, Norway, with 208 people in attendance. Some of the attendees were newly diagnosed patients who were participating in a meeting for the first time. As such, after Tone Hansen, the leader of the Norwegian Patient Association (Blodkreftforeningen) started the event, the first presentation was on the introduction of diagnosis. Dr. Nina Gulbrandsen, Professor and Chief Physician, Oslo University, Rikshospitalet, shared her expertise in the subject.

The other presentations in Oslo included Dr. Fredrik Schjesvold's "Current Treatment for Newly Diagnosed Pateints and Treatment at Recurrence," Tone Hansen's "Awareness and Coping," Celgene's "Emotional and Physical Effects of Recurrence," and Dr. Waage's "The Norwegian Research Center: Jebsen's Centre for Myeloma." Patient stories were also shared.

Following the second successful Patient & Family Seminar in Norway, I attended two physician meetings.

The following day in Oslo, Celgene held a physician meeting. Approximately 50 physicians took part, including some speakers who were part of the prior Patient & Family Seminar. Dr. Dispenzieri repeated her presentation of "Diagnosis and Treatment of Myeloma," which created a lively discussion during the Q&A section.

A physician meeting held at Odense University Hospital in Denmark followed the next day, on November 6th. This time, approximately 40 physicians attended, many of whom worked with Syddansk Universitet's Dr. Niels Abildgaard. This time, Dr. Dispenzieri presented "Virotherapy in Multiple Myeloma-- The Mayo Experience" and produced yet another lively discussion and exchange of information regarding Mayo Clinic's practices.


The final event of the week, the Patient & Family Seminar in Middelfart, Denmark on November 7th, drew 210 participants in person but also included a virtual contingent, as the meetings were live-streamed to allow additional patients to sit in.

The attendees started the event by singing a beautiful biblical song, and then Ole Dalriis, Chairman of the Danish Myeloma Foreningen, and Bibi Moe opened the meeting by introducing the IMF, and I carried on by introducing the day's activities.

Dr. Abildgaard acted as moderator and translator for Dr. Dispenzieri, who presented "Monitoring and Management of Myeloma Treatment," which produced a lively discussion. The Danish patients were very educated about their disease, and their questions were thoughtfully formed.

The Patient & Family Seminars I attended in both Norway and Denmark provided supportive feedback and a large outpouring of gratitude toward the IMF. I am very happy to share that relationships are strong. It was a delight to work with both Blodkreftforeningen and the DMF, and I am already eagerly anticipating next year's events! We truly are One Myeloma Nation.

Nadia Elkebir
IMF Director of Europe and the Middle East

The IMF Co-Hosts Patient & Family Seminar in Slovakia

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On October 3rd and 4th, in conjunction with Slovak Myeloma Society (SMS) & Patient Club, the myeloma patient association of Slovakia, the IMF co-hosted the second annual Slovak Patient & Family Seminar in Liptovsky Jan in the beautiful region of Low Tatras in northern Slovakia.

It was my pleasure to attend the seminar and have the opportunity to continue to expand the IMF's relationships with patient organizations throughout the world that share the common goal of supporting and improving life for myeloma patients.


Mr. Hrianka Miroslav, a representative of SMS, moderated the seminar and did a fantastic job organizing a highly informative and enjoyable meeting. The seminar, which welcomed 130 patients, family members, and physicians from different cities across Slovakia, was a great success.


The seminar began with a patient forum, which included an uplifting testimony from a Slovak myeloma patient who focused on the idea that "every day is a new beginning." This presentation was quite moving and was followed by presentations on activities of several myeloma patient associations in Central Europe. These included presentations from:

  • Ms. Alice Onderkova from CMG (Czech Myeloma Group) - Czech Republic
  • Ms. Kinga Kocemba from Carita - Poland
  • Ms. Margareta Bartosova & Mr. Hrianka Miroslav from SMS (Slovak Myeloma Society & Patient Club)

The second day of the Patient & Family Seminar began with my presentation. I shared an overview of the IMF, our mission, goals, achievements, and the IMF's international initiative: the Global Myeloma Alliance (GMA). Mr. Hrianka Miroslav, meeting organizer, is representing Slovakia in the GMA.

During my presentation, the IMF's message was well received and understood by the Slovak patients. I enjoyed sharing information about the resources and support the IMF provides to patients worldwide.


Following my presentation, Dr. Roman Hajek of the Czech Republic shared information about new myeloma drugs, treatment side effects, and clinical trials. He also provided personal consultations for patients. The participants paid great attention to this crucial presentation.

One of the things I will take away from this seminar is an appreciation for the remarkable relationship between the Czech and Slovak people. These two countries used to be one, Czechoslovakia, until a political split happened smoothly in 1993. This peaceful divorce is still called the "Velvet Revolution." However, as independent as the countries are now, Czech and Slovak people have an excellent relationship and strongly support each other, which I have seen in their fight against myeloma. I could see this relationship in the very well received presentations from Dr. Hajek and the Czech Myeloma Group. It is an inspirational relationship that should be taken as a great example all over the world.


Back to the seminar! Day two also featured the following interesting presentations: "Integrative Myeloma Treatment & Logotherapy" from Dr. Pavel Kotoucek of Homerton University Hospital in London; "Physiotherapy and Spa Treatment" from Dr. Eva Kmetyova of University Hospital in Bratislava; "From Diagnosis to Ambulatory Monitoring of the Disease" from Dr. Zdenka Stefanikova of University Hospital in Bratislava; and "the Art of Healthy Living, Separate Diet" from Prof. Katarina Horakova, DrSc, of Slovak Technical University in Bratislava.

I am very grateful to Mr. Hrianka Miroslav--who is a caregiver to his very brave wife Milada, who has been fighting myeloma for nine years--for organizing such an informative and enjoyable meeting. I am looking forward to attending the 2015 Slovak Patient & Family Seminar!

Nadia Elkebir
IMF Director of Europe and the Middle East

The IMF Strengthens International Relationships in Europe

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The IMF continued to strengthen its international relationships with patients, advocacy groups, and biopharmaceutical companies focusing on myeloma research with meetings in Europe this month.

On September 5th and 6th, the IMF, in conjunction with Czech Myeloma Group Foundation and KPMM (Klub Pacientu Mnohocetny Myelom) hosted a Patient & Family Seminar in Lazne Belhorad, Czech Republic.

I attended the seminar and shared with the more than 110 patients, family members, and physicians in attendance information about the resources and support the IMF provides to patients worldwide.

The meeting marked a special occasion for KPMM - the organization's 10th anniversary. The two-day seminar opened with a well-received video from IMF President Susie Novis congratulating KPMM on its success over the past 10 years.


The seminar was educational, lively, and enjoyable for all who attended thanks to the tremendous hard work and professionalism of Iveta Mareshova and Alice Onderkova of KPMM. From the medical presentations and patient interactions to the beautiful location of the Tree of Life Resort, complete with a lake, the meeting was a huge success.

The first evening of the seminar also welcomed lively local entertainers: a magician and ballroom dancers. The entertainment and welcoming atmosphere put patients at ease and encouraged them to socialize with one another.

The educational program began during the second day of the seminar. Dr. Roman Hajek presented news about myeloma research and treatment developments, while Dr. Petr Hylena described the accomplishments and activities of KPMM over the past year. 

Dr. Miroslav Hrianka, president of the Slovak Myeloma Society, also attended the meeting and spoke about his group's activities and the treatment landscape for patients in Slovakia. The myeloma communities from the Czech Republic and Slovakia have a close relationship, supporting each other and working together.

Patients living with myeloma told stories about enjoying their lives and experiencing new things no matter the heaviness of the disease, which provided inspiration to all in attendance. We heard about and saw pictures of the exciting life of a myeloma patient who decided with his wife not to allow his myeloma to run his life. He and his family travel the world to hike, walk, swim, and enjoy other physical activities. It was very touching and definitely inspiring.


The rest of the afternoon included a presentation on changes in social security in the Czech Republic, presented by Lea Janku; a panel discussion that included lively questions from the audience; and breakout sessions for more concentrated Q&A discussions. With beautiful weather, the afternoon Q&A sessions were conducted outdoors by the lake. Dr. Roman Hajek led a session on clinical trials, Dr. Vladimir Maisnar led a session on the management of side effects, and Dr. Petr Pavlicek led a session on alternative treatment approaches.

The meeting ended with an enthusiastic "thank you and see you next year" from all of the participants. This very successful meeting was a wonderful way to celebrate KPMM's 10th anniversary.

I also visited Boudry, Switzerland this month to meet with myeloma researchers at Celgene Europe's headquarters. Celgene is a developer of important myeloma therapies that have made an impact on many myeloma patients around the world. The company's therapies include Thalomid (thalidomide), Revlimid (lenalidomide), and Pomalyst/Imnovid (pomalidomide). Celgene scientists continue their commitment to myeloma with research on additional therapies.


During the trip, I visited Celgene's Boudry research laboratories, which were impressive and very well organized. I was happy to see the space where the exciting work is being done.

I then shared with 15 researchers and Celgene Europe employees in the meeting room--and many more on video--the important work the IMF is doing with myeloma patients in Europe and around the world. In addition to learning about the IMF's patient education, support, and advocacy efforts, the audience was very interested to learn about IMF-led research projects, including the Black Swan Research Initiative.

I look forward to continuing to expand the IMF's relationships with researchers and patient organizations throughout Europe that share the common goal of supporting and improving life for myeloma patients. 

Nadia Elkebir
IMF Director of Europe and the Middle East

Czech Patient & Family Seminar photos courtesy of KPMM member Mr. Pavel Skarka.

AA-visit to KBCA.jpg
During the last week of October, I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at the annual multiple myeloma seminar in Seoul, South Korea hosted by the Korean Blood Cancer Association (KBCA) and the Korean Multiple Myeloma Working Party (KMMWP), a division of the Korean Society of Hematology (KSH).  This was the second time that the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) had the honor of participating in this meeting to address myeloma patients in Korea, and the opportunity to meet with the team of dedicated physicians and members of the KBCA staff.

More than 250 patients and family members listened to presentations by the KMMWP on transplant, clinical trials, frontline therapy, and relapse. Fortunately, they were also excited to learn about advocacy, which is where I came in. While it has no direct translation in the Korean language, I explained that the word advocacy applies to many activities that meet the dictionary definition of " the act or process of supporting a cause." This can mean educating others about the disease, raising myeloma awareness in the community, or telling your story as a patient to the media or policymakers to illustrate the need for continued innovation in blood cancer and access to treatment for patients in Korea.

The message seemed to resonate with the audience as many patients approached me after the meeting to thank me for my participation and compassion for patients in Korea. I also learned that there is a lot of online advocacy activity already happening through a myeloma patient group affiliated with KBCA, the Korean Federation of Multiple Myeloma Patients (KFMMP).  I had the opportunity to meet with them and learn more about their organization and discuss ways in which we may collaborate to improve the circumstances for patients in Korea. My hope is that there will be much more to report on that effort in the near future.

A brief history of the KBCA:  The Korean Blood Cancer Association is a nonprofit organization that was established in December 1995 in Seoul, South Korea with the mission of supporting patients through education, consulting, support programs, and financial assistance. The association offers various programs that are similar to ours at the IMF and they are run by a compassionate group of patients and social workers.  KBCA also started the Hope Medical Information Center, which is run by nurses and social workers, and offers support programs to patients and their families. It is the only center of its kind in Seoul where patients can come to learn, meet other patients, get emotional support, and participate in a programs including patient mentoring, medical information sessions, yoga therapy, mind healing, and nutritional/cooking classes, to name a few. I was very impressed with the number of classes and programs offered and how they aim to treat the whole patient, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

While we may come from very different parts of the world, it was quite clear that the passion and dedication that we have for the myeloma community is the same from one side of the world to the other, and we will all continue to work tirelessly to support patients and their families battling myeloma.
I'd like to sincerely thank the staff at KBCA, HOPE Center, and the members of the KMMWP for your hospitality, your compassion for patients and for the amazing opportunity to be a part of your outstanding work!

We Owe It To Ourselves To Get Involved


My name is Kathy Cartwright and I have been living with a myeloma diagnosis for approximately 11 years.

Call me what you want--daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, myeloma patient, myeloma survivor and now, myeloma advocate!

Back in July, while attending the IMF Support Group Leader Summit, I learned that advocacy is not the same old politics-- advocacy can affect each one of us and the care we get as patients.

I am so glad Aimee Martin and the rest of the IMF advocacy team explained some of the simple ways we can influence our local, state and federal governments to pass laws to protect cancer patients and to promote cancer/myeloma research. Postcards for Parity are postcards the IMF produces to collect signatures in support of the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act (HR2746). This bill would help get chemotherapies covered equally whether they're delivered orally, intravenously or by injection.

People can get more information on the IMF website, read all about it, and what you can do to help get this bill passed in your state!

I got a bunch of the postcards when we were at the summit, and brought them back to our support group. We had a good response because everyone knows this bill would affect them. Everyone signed them! Most members took extra for family and friends to sign, too. One member's daughter had Aimee send her a batch to take to her church. Her pastor will be making an announcement and they will be getting the cards signed! I also took the cards to the hospital with me and all the nurses wanted to sign them!

Most people have no idea there is a difference in coverage. They are appalled to learn this information, and therefore happy to support the cause!! I am glad I learned about the Postcards for Parity so I can help in this simple way that will have a huge impact on myeloma patients as well as all cancer patients.

We, as citizens and cancer survivors, owe it to ourselves as well as for those who have lost their battle to this awful disease to get involved. Please go to advocacy.myeloma.org or call the IMF to learn more. 

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My Apologies

To everyone who subscribes to the RSS feed for the blogs--I owe you an apology. I went back and assigned each old blog to a category (i.e., Dr. Durie's blogs or IMF Community Blogs) to make them easier to search. Consequently, all of you got many emails chronicling my updates. I am so sorry. Don't panic, you won't get any more notices of old blogs. Just new, fresh ones will be coming your way.

Again, my apologies.

Abbie Rich
Web Producer

One of the Greatest Gifts I Have Ever Received


By Kelly Cox

At the IMF, I run the Regional Community Workshop program and serve as a Regional Director of Support Groups. I frequently find myself travelling to patient and medical meetings across the country. My aim is to bring the IMF's mission directly to those affected by myeloma, as well as to the healthcare professionals who serve them.

In June 2011, I was attending the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago, Illinois. While taking a short break from the IMF booth, I found myself walking the aisles of the convention hall. One of the booths I passed had no visitors, so I stopped to say a neighborly hello.

The DKMS Americas (dkmsamericas.org) representatives were at ASCO to promote their cause and to solicit potential bone marrow donors. The process was simple. A painless swab of the inside of my cheek and I was on my way to becoming part of DKMS's database. I didn't give it a second thought. I practically forgot this ever happened.

In August 2011, I received a call from the New York offices of DKMS. It seemed that I was a possible match for a woman in her early 20s who needed a transplant for acute aplastic anemia. The sample collected from me at ASCO matched all the preliminary selection criteria. Even at that point in time, the whole concept of being a donor remained pretty abstract for me.

Things started becoming a bit more "real" over the following 4-5 days when I started donating vials of blood for the next stage of the matching process. In total, 21 vials of my blood were collected at a local Los Angeles clinic. The next step could not take place in LA, so it was time for me to fly to the Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley, CA.

They were so nice to me. They took great care of me and my wife, Mary. My niece and Mary's best friend were with us for support. The day before the collection procedure, we walked around the Berkeley campus, had a sandwich and some gelato. It was a beautiful, sunny day. I felt so happy and so excited in anticipation of the next morning. I stayed up most of that night because I was too energized and giddy to go to sleep. The mere thought of what was to come gave me goose bumps.

At 7 a.m., as I was waking up from the anesthesia, my bone marrow was already aboard a plane heading for an unnamed destination on the East Coast where the recipient was waiting. 176 punctures in my back and pelvic bones yielded 1.5 liters of bone marrow, more than enough for the recipient's transplant. As I lay in the hospital bed recovering from the bone marrow "taps," watching the two pints of blood I had "banked" being re-infused into me, the magnitude of the experience began to sink in.

Now let me back up for a moment. I must confess that I read none of the materials given to me in preparation for the collection procedure. I just didn't want to know what I was getting myself into. In hindsight, maybe this was because I did not want to learn something that might have discouraged me from moving forward. I felt fully committed and I wanted nothing to stand in the way.

The only question I remember asking in advance was addressed to Dr. Morie A. Gertz of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  Dr. Gertz is a member of the IMF's Scientific Advisory Board, a frequent faculty presenter at the IMF's patient education meetings, and an all-round great guy. He told me that a patient with acute aplastic anemia had a 95% chance of survival after a well-matched donor transplant. That was all I needed to hear.

Being a donor is a personal choice. While I certainly appreciated all the support I received from friends and family members throughout the process, I did not expect the outpouring of positive messages I received via my Facebook page, many of them from strangers or from people I had lost touch with over the years.

Oddly, the emotional impact of the entire experience hits home now, after the fact, more than it did before or during the donation process. I get choked up when I think of it and, especially, when I think of that young woman. I hope that the transplant was successful and that it has given her a fresh start. I catch myself wishing that she has a full and productive life and, whenever she is up for it, I hope that she will find a way to be of service to someone else who is in need of help.

The donation was anonymous. While I would love to meet my recipient, there is no telling if this will ever happen. In the meantime, I would want her to know a few things about me. I am 53 years old and I have spent most of my life trying to be of service, trying to make this world a better place. I work for a wonderful non-profit organization, alongside colleagues who spend each and every day making the lives of others better and healthier. I have a newfound empathy and admiration for the myeloma patients I work with who undergo transplantation as part of their cancer therapy.

I've been told I have a big heart and I really do I care about helping people. I feel honored and grateful to have had an opportunity to be a donor. If she ever needs it, I will be here for the same recipient again in the future. And I have gone on to donate blood and platelets through two additional organizations in hopes of helping more people.

Emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually I am absolutely blown away by the experience. And I am still struggling to wrap my mind around the concept of possibly saving a life. Without a doubt, this was one of the most important events and accomplishments of my life.