Don’t Mess with the Doublemint twins

Sam:

Sometimes you hit a road block in life that only fires you up more. Especially if you are two women on a mission. Last night, when Alex and I were traveling back home from our retreat with Delete Blood Cancer in North Carolina, we encountered a flight attendant that pushed back a little bit. We were flying in one of those tiny planes with only one flight attendant and this guy, let’s call him “Larry,” used that opportunity to perform his own one man show. He was making jokes left and right and he put on a safety demonstration that received a sitting ovation. Yeah, he was that good. As he was making his way down the aisle checking to see that everyone was prepared for take-off, he stopped at Alex and I and said, “Psh, we got the Doublemint Twins here. Did you have to wear the same outfit?” 

Ok, so Alex and I both were wearing jeans, a Delete Blood Cancer “Swab U” t-shirt, and our “I heart swabbing” bracelets. We admit that it might have been a bit much to dress the exact same but it provided us with so many opportunities to share our mission with other people. So, in response to Larry we said “Yeah! We did have to wear the same outfit and here’s why” and we handed him our business card. When he read the part about us searching for bone marrow donors he flinched. Here’s how our conversation went.

Larry: Oh no, you’re not taking my bone marrow!

Us: Why not??

Larry: Because my bone marrow is sacred.

Us: No it isn’t! It should be shared with people who need it!

Larry: No it shouldn’t. They stick a big needle in you and suck your marrow out.

We went on to give Larry the full pitch, including my story and how easy it actually is to donate bone marrow. We didn’t change his mind and he was visibly trying to escape at this point. Fine. Just go Larry. This wasn’t the first time we’ve encountered stubborn people. This idea of “this is my marrow and you can’t take it” is exactly why people are dying of blood cancer. There are people who hear my story, hear how easy it is to save a life, and they basically respond with “I don’t care.” Fighting against this shield of selfishness and unwillingness to listen is going to be one of our biggest hurdles and that’s why a huge part of S.A.M. is education. Letting people know that donating marrow is very often done through a process similar to giving blood usually gets us past that initial cringe that we get at the start of our conversation. This then gives us the opportunity to tell people that they might be the only match in the entire world for someone battling blood cancer.

To get people to change their way of thinking about bone marrow is absolutely our biggest obstacle. And we realize that it’s not going to change overnight and that there will be people that don’t change at all. But we have to try. At our retreat this week, we met a few members of the staff who selflessly donated their marrow, one to their sibling and the others to complete strangers. We even got the chance to meet Amy, a bone marrow transplant recipient, who is getting ready to celebrate 5 years after her transplant. If her donor had what I will now call the Larry Mentality, Amy, a wife and mother of three, would not have survived. And that, my friends, is why we have to try. And try really damn hard.

One of the awesome people that we met this weekend was Kate, the college ambassador for Mizzou. She donated marrow to a 9 year old boy with aplastic anemia her sophomore year of college after joining the registry at a blood drive. Above is my interview with her at the Greensboro Airport.