A call to action. A cry for help. An opportunity for you to realize your power to give strength to someone affected by a blood cancer (Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma). Get involved. Make someone stronger.
My husband Karthik was diagnosed with Early T Cell ALL in 2011 when he was 33 years old – we had been married for a little over a year and our lives changed overnight. I still remember that Friday morning when I was at work and got a call from him saying he was at the doctor as he wasn’t feeling well and had just been told that he had a huge tumor in his chest. All he told me was that the doctor had told him that they needed more scans to determine what it was. That weekend we moved from Mumbai to Chennai (where we are from) and the following Monday, he started Chemotherapy. He underwent aggressive Chemotherapy in 2011 and was on maintenance chemotherapy by the end of that year.
We thought we had put it behind us when we crossed the 2-year mark and he was still cancer-free.. Our excitement was short-lived.
Earlier this year, a persistent low grade fever and an ankle injury that refused to heal were the first signs that things were not really going to plan. His doctor decided to do a Bone Marrow Aspiration and we found out the next day that he had relapsed. We knew that his only option was to find an Matched Unrelated Donor (MUD) as his parents and sister are not a match.
We have since been contacting as many people as we can to spread the word for people to become donors as this is the only way Karthik, and others like him can hope to have a chance to survive their cancer. So far, given the abysmally low number of Indians on registries world-wide, we have not found a match for Karthik. We spend most of our time combing through emails from potential donors and friends trying to explain the process, to dispel any fear people may have about becoming donors and trying to organize drives. Given the lack of information on the process and the disease, a surprising number of people have come forward to become donors – Over 400 people in the first week!
We hope that in a few months, we can help build up the registry in India (DATRI: http://datriworld.org/) by at least a few thousand and then hopefully garner enough attention to get some serious numbers going – this is the only way to ensure that we give all these patients a real chance at life. We continue our periodic searches for Karthik and we hope to hit the jackpot some day – a committed, perfectly-matched (HLA) donor!
Karthik’s odds of surviving until his 37th birthday are between 15 – 30% without a matched donor so please help us by becoming a donor as well as by spreading the word among friends, family, co-workers and any other groups you think will be able to help save him and people like him.
For more details on how you can help Karthik, please do visit the following pages: