Oh boy - where do I start........ Saturday was a day that had an incredible number of different feelings surrounding it way before it started! By Thursday evening deep disappointment had replaced any nervousness. I had called everyone on the list of people who had voluntarily signed up and only one guy said he would make it to the drive! I was so terribly disappointed and sad too that it appeared that the day would be a waste of time.
I read late into the night on Friday so that my mind would not keep on working long after the light went off, like the night before. And it worked - I slept better than any baby ever has..... On Saturday morning the sun literally shone so brightly that it felt as if the light was being forced into my brain. I smiled and knew it would all be ok, no matter what. By then I knew that my daughter, Lisa and her husband would be up here and they were both going to join the registry and my sister Kate too - and that already tripled the ‘only one extra person’ idea.
And so the day started on a much better note than the day before. The Vein Voyager Blood bus arrived at around 11.30am with five very lovely, very capable young ladies with what appeared to be an unlimited supply of smiles and gentleness. And Alta, the “Marrow Lady” arrived and set up her table full of forms, pamphlets and papers inside.
Dawn and Greg from Carolyn’s Hope arrived with Tyler, their six year old son - it was absolutely wonderful to have them as back up all day long! They both had wanted to get on the Marrow Registry and donate blood and had waited for this drive to do so - awesome :) A big thanks to both of you for everything - we really appreciate you and I hope that next time we have more time to sit down and chat.
Steven and Laura stopped by in a quiet time and I introduced him to those that were there and all the ladies in the Vein Voyager too. I wonder just how deeply I embarrass this son of mine at times, but they did not run off quickly and after a while I told them to head out and get on with their day. He is so good and gentle with me when I get on a roll and 'show him off' - its just lovely.
Right here I must put in a REALLY big Thank You to the ladies of Kays Kastles. Their premises were perfect for the drive and the atmosphere was all open and sunny and bright. They helped me on every level they could and were just simply great!
Slowly people trickled in, and the one little dark cloud that thundered by was because my sister Kate was royally ticked off as her iron was too low to donate blood! But she did sign up on the marrow registry, which sent that cloud back into oblivion. A good many people who donated blood also signed up on the registry which was double wonderful. It was absolutely awesome to see people hunched over forms, spending their time and effort to make themselves available to possibly save a life.
I tried to talk to every one of the new members of the Marrow Registry and tell them how much I appreciate their willingness to help. All of those that I spoke wished so hard that they would ‘be picked’ to be a donor. They all said that it would be incredible and an absolute honor.
I had hung a good many photos on the wall.... these were of people who are dealing with cancer in some form or another and sadly two photos were in memory of people who are no longer here with us - Adrian from the UK and Carolyn, Greg’s mother who could not find a match. Another of the photos was of Dawn, a young lady who needs a marrow donor but has not yet found a match. When the local tv news guy came up and I told him the stories of those on the wall - he immediately zoned into Dawn’s photo and it was she who got on our local news later that night. I had written on her photo that she needs a donor. I so hope and wish that Saturday will help her.
To see a face of someone so young and beautiful, with a sparkle in her eyes and yet fighting such a tough battle really put meaning into the drive. I know what I saw in the eyes of those that looked at her - determination to do what they could to help either her or others in the same situation.
All those photos made the donor drive come alive. All of you sat there with us with pride, a sense of humor and determination. You showed us parts of your lives, your kids, mothers, fathers and husbands or wives, there were even some that had their donors with them too. You showed us what is important in life and by doing this you helped increase the Marrow Registry by 15 people.
Fifteen extra chances for everyone needing a donor. I know its not as many as I would have liked....... that number is closer to 5000, but it’s 15 chances extra - thats wonderful! And I know that all of those that signed up on Saturday will tell at least one other and so it will go on and on and one day maybe it will be a normal thing to do when we come of age - get on the register.
Alta, from The National Marrow Donor Program is wonderful. She was so easy to chat with, has lots of fascinating things to share and easily engaged with people who came in just for an ice cream and handed out information books to those who needed to think about joining. It was wonderful to share the afternoon with someone so upbeat and cheerful and full of positivity.
The “Vein Ladies” on the Blood Assurance bus just seemed to have a blast all the way through. Every time I went on board to get some photographs, there they were, full of laughter, joking and warmth and sometimes hanging out of the back windows chatting the the guys outside (see pictures below). They really made everyone feel totally at home and even promised to sharpen a needle for me as I am a baby when it comes to those sharp things. Well it turned out that I could not donate blood anyway as I had surgery while living in South Africa. What a disappointment! Ok, ok - I will admit to a slight feeling of relief at not having to get jabbed but what a pity that a surgery over 20 years ago would eliminate me from ever donating blood here. I would have donated if I could - even had my I.D. ready. I am already a card carrying member of the NMDP - that sounds so good!
So the day was a success - double digit donors and all. 19 blood and 15 marrow donors. It’s a day that has started many a conversation especially amongst the younger group that came to sign up and also has kindled some ideas in my head for a future donor drive.
It was Adrian and his determination to do what is right, that got me off my butt to do this donor drive. Yes, I could have done it because of Steven, but I had not yet done so. Adrian definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to do this. I think that the idea that he started, the education of the younger generation, is what will carry all donor drives to true and great success. Adrian’s Army is world wide, can be put into effect by speaking to just one more person, by holding a donor drive or by doing the many available things that can be done to spread the word about the need for donors. Talk to just one more person.........
Being out of my comfort zone while putting this donor drive together was scary, frustrating and disappointing at times..... but mostly it was wonderful! There is nothing quite like spending a day surrounded by people who want to make the world a better place, who are prepared to go through some discomfort to make a difference and who do this with a wish that they ‘get picked”!
A really big Thank You to everyone who signed up on the Marrow Registry or donated blood - you are true lifesavers! Thanks to everyone that helped, supported and encouraged, listened to my fears and gripes over the weeks running up to Saturday. Thanks to those who sent me your photographs, to Kays Kastles, Amber from Blood Assurance , Alta and Carla from NMDP and The Vein Ladies! You were all awesome and it’s you that made this happen.
Love and light