One Family’s Search for their Mom’s Marrow Match

Posted June 11th, 2013 by Be The Match and filed in News, Patient Stories
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Nancy and family “When I began this cancer journey, I remember feeling stunned, scared and just plain numb. My doctor told me that my cancer was quite advanced and that I needed aggressive treatment. She didn’t say that it was going to be impossible, just that it was going to be challenging.
–Nancy, searching patient

As a kindergarten teacher, wife and mom Nancy was contently on the go. Then she began to experience shortness of breath and simple activities like riding a bike became difficult. Not knowing what was wrong she visited urgent care and was unexpectedly diagnosed with multiple myeloma—cancer. “You hear about these things. You just never think they’ll happen to you,” said Nancy’s husband, Jim. “The first question she asked the doctor was if she would live to see our kids graduate and get married.”

Nancy immediately began chemotherapy, but her cancer was particularly aggressive so she was transferred to a specialist. “We arrived at a unit titled BMT. I remember joking that BMT sounded like a Subway sandwich,” said Jim. “At that point we had no idea that Nancy needed a bone marrow transplant. It was very scary moment.” Nancy has two sisters so doctors were optimistic she would find a match within her family, Jim recalls. “It felt like we were given a lottery ticket. Each of them wanted to be the one to save her life, unfortunately neither was a match.”

Their family turned to the Be The Match Registry in hopes of finding an unrelated donor.  They also began to host registry drives and, thus far, have personally recruited over 800 potential marrow donors. One of their recruits has already been called as a potential match for a 66-year-old woman with leukemia. Nancy, however, is still searching.

While Nancy is doing well and completed self transplant in May, she is still in need of a marrow transplant from an unrelated donor.  Always a smile on her face, Nancy says, “I know my match is out there and I’ll find it when I really need it…but right now I’m good, good, good with my plan!”

Watch the heartwarming video Nancy’s children created for her in honor of Mother’s Day

14 Responses to “One Family’s Search for their Mom’s Marrow Match”

  1. Erin says:

    This is a very touching story. Nancy has the right idea to keep her head up and a positive attitude.
    I joined Be The Match a few months ago and am still waiting to see if I can save someone’s life.
    I hope she finds her match soon.
    Maybe it’ll be me!

  2. Hillary says:

    Stories like this always make me feel as though if a patient can smile through this whole process I should never find anything to grown about. I joined the registry about a year ago and I’m still crossing my fingers that my name will pop up. It’s a life’s dream to be able to help someone in such a big way. Good luck Nancy!

  3. Kerry says:

    Stay positive Nancy! It was difficult to find a match for me when I had leukemia. Finally a match came all the way from germany! Your match is out there…thousands of people join the registry every week. Good Luck!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Nancy you will beat this! I wish I was your match…or anyone else’s for that matter! It would be my pleasure to know I could save a life. Keep the positive attitude!

  5. Joanna Mason says:


    I was just notified through email that I am officially on the donor registry. I will gladly donate my marrow to you or anyone else in need. If I am a match please contact me asap!! My name is Joanna Mason and I live in Davisburg, MI. God bless you and your family and I hope and pray that you are able to find a match!!

  6. Leah McCool says:


    I can only imagine how hard it is to wait and pray that your match will join the registry soon! With thousands joining all the time, I pray that one of them is your match and will get the thrill to save your life. I should be listed on the registry any day now as I turned in my swabs a month and a half ago. May God bless you and keep you safe until He brings you and your family peace. Love your sister in Christ.

  7. Heather Martinez says:

    I wish you the best of luck in finding a donor. I am on the registry and would gladly donate if I am a match.

  8. annie says:

    Good Luck to Nancy and her family. I’m a registered donor and can’t wait to be called upon.

  9. Cari says:

    Prays for Nancy and her beautiful family. I joined the registry 10 years ago and am waiting to be a match. If I ever am, I will do so with no reservation. I hope I get the match call soon.

  10. Sharon says:

    Nancy is a wonderful positive person, that I am proud to call friend. Because of Nancy, I too am on the donor list, she has changed many lives and will continue to bless us for many many years to come. I love you Nancy! You will find your match! God Bless You and the family!

  11. Shirley Zellmer says:

    Dear Nancy, I am wishing you the best in finding a donor! I know well the agonizing wait. I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia 18 months ago and have been waiting for a donor since then. My cancer is also aggressive and I have been undergoing maintenance chemo every month for a week. It certainly is NO fun! My family and three children and many friends have sponsored many donor drives but no luck yet for me. I plead Italian an entry folks out there to donate stem cells. None of my three siblings were a match for me either. Praying for all those waiting for a donor. All the best…..Shirley from Huntington Beach, CA

  12. cherie rinkenberg says:

    Nancy…best of luck to you!! I joined BE THE MATCH two years ago and am excited that I may be the match for someone in need, someday!!!

    Keep fighting and stay positive!! <3

  13. Marcy says:

    I just received my donor card in the mail today. I hope and pray you find a match, soon! 🙂

  14. Tami says:

    I completely understand. In 2010, my 21 year old son – never ever sick – was diagnosed AML (leukemia) and a particularly devastating one. If it ironically wasn’t for his great health, we would have lost him. His only course of action was a stem cell transplant, as well. His older sister, Lauren, was not a match. She was devastated. However, we did find a 10/10 match and on June 29, 2010, he received his new birthday. Today almost exactly three years later, he is doing very well; even owns a deli and works six days a week. There is hope and there will be a match for you. We’ve hosted drives over the years and have heard remarkable stories of many who signed up and were immediately a match. I pray that yours comes very soon. God speed.

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