Marrow donor and cancer patient make plans to meet at Richmond’s Be The Match Walk+Run

Posted May 10th, 2013 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories, Patient Stories
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Over the years, Rocky Pocock of Richmond and Allison Levin of Philadelphia have exchanged a few emails. But a keyboard doesn’t really cut it when you’re trying to connect with the person who saved your life.

So, Rocky and Allison have found the perfect place to meet: Richmond’s June 1st Be The Match® Walk+Run at Monroe Park. They don’t have any idea what each other looks or sounds like, but they know that Be The Match — a non-profit that connects marrow donors with blood cancer patients — helped them find each other once before.

Allison’s marrow runs through Rocky. She’s the reason this 57-year-old husband and father beat cancer and is alive to enjoy his family, work and golf game. “The Be The Match Walk+Run sounded like a nice way to meet, make more people aware of marrow donation and help the cause that has changed both our lives,” said Allison, 27.

The 5K, 1K and Tot Trot fundraising event highlights the need for more marrow donors. Every year, more than 12,000 patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with blood cancers like leukemia and a marrow transplant from an unrelated donor is their best hope of a cure.

The Search

In 2007, Rocky was diagnosed with a blood cancer called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). He needed a marrow transplant to survive, but no one in his family was a marrow match.

Rocky was all too familiar with his situation. In 1993, his older brother developed leukemia and needed a marrow transplant. Rocky donated his marrow, but sadly his brother died from post-transplant complications.

While maintaining a positive attitude, Rocky couldn’t ignore his brother’s experience and updated his medical directives and will. He knew no one in his family was going to match him. Most patients (about 70 percent) do not have a marrow donor in their family. They depend on Be The Match Registry® to find an unrelated donor.

The Match

A year earlier, Allison, then a college student, had joined the marrow registry after her cousin was diagnosed with leukemia. “I wanted to be the match for my cousin, but I wasn’t. Another donor — a stranger — saved her life.”

“When I got the call about a man, about my dad’s age, who I matched — the decision was easy. I wanted to pay it forward,” said Allison.

“It’s one thing for me to donate to my brother,” said Rocky, who received his transplant at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center. “But Allison didn’t know me. She went through this for a total stranger. She’s my savior. It takes a very unselfish person to do what she did.”

The Event

The Be The Match Walk+Run raises funds to support marrow transplant research, help patients with uninsured treatment costs, and add more volunteer potential marrow donors to Be The Match Registry, giving more patients hope for a cure.

Join a community transplanting hope. Help patients with blood cancers take the next step toward a life-saving marrow transplant by taking a few of your own. To register, fundraise, volunteer or support a runner or walker with a contribution, visit BeTheMatchWalkRun.org/Richmond.

To join or contribute to the Allison/Rocky Team and support all patients in need of a marrow transplant, visit: http://www.BeTheMatchFoundation.org/goto/AllisonRocky

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