Mary and Jason know firsthand what watching a child battle for their life feels like. It feels like salt water running down cheeks and nights without sleep; like blinding hospital lights and anxiously tight hugs. For Mary and Jason, who recently started the post-transplant journey with their son, it also feels like an opportunity for good. These parents have turned the hardest experience of their lives into an opportunity to help others – an opportunity to save lives.
Mary and Jason’s journey began in June 2014, a few months after their twin boys, Lachlan and Calhoun, started daycare. “They were both getting sick frequently, but Lachlan just wasn’t bouncing back like Calhoun,” said Mary.
After a series of reoccurring ear infections, Mary and Jason brought Lachlan to a nurse practitioner. As parents, they felt something was wrong. That something, they would eventually learn, was a rare form of childhood cancer called juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML).
The news was flooring. “We were in absolute shock,” said Mary. Quickly, they jumped into action with one goal in mind – do whatever it takes to save their baby. Because JMML is so rare, with an estimated 1-2 cases per million children born, very little is known about the cancer and few treatment options are available. Lachlan’s only hope for survival was a marrow or cord blood transplant.
Unfortunately, like 70% of patients in need of a transplant, Lachlan did not have a suitable donor in his family. For this reason, Lachlan’s doctors turned to the Be The Match Registry. “Right away, we found out Lachlan had 10 matches,” said Mary.
However, Mary decided that a match wasn’t enough. The family recognized Lachlan’s experience was an opportunity for them to help others. “There are other people just like us that are waiting for a match,” she said, “Getting people to join the registry has turned into a passion of mine. Lachlan is going to make a difference for Be The Match.”
While caring for Lachlan and their 2 other sons, Mary and Jason found that helping others was what they needed to do at the time. They gathered their friends and family to hold registry drives, encouraging everyone to support Be The Match and help other patients in need.
The family held their first registry drive only weeks after Lachlan’s diagnosis. Since then, they have set up numerous drives and fundraising events. “We’ve held 6 registry drives and we have about 6 more to come,” said Mary. “There are other people out there who love their child just as much as we love Lachlan, and there are so many other people who need a match.”
Lachlan underwent his transplant in late November, and now, this family’s mission to save lives is just starting. “We were fortunate to have our donor, but we don’t feel like that’s the end of our journey with Be The Match. It’s just the beginning,” said Mary.
If you or others you know are interested in learning more about hosting registry drives or other volunteer opportunities, visit BeTheMatchVolunteer.org.