Committed to Making a Difference

Posted March 3rd, 2015 by Be The Match and filed in News
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Lisa had a lifestyle many people dream about. She and her husband, Jim, both worked for General Mills in Switzerland and were busy raising their son and twin daughters abroad. An active mom with a high travel job, Lisa skied in the Alps of Switzerland, hiked the mountains of Italy and enjoyed experiencing life around the world. Suddenly, everything fell apart. In June 2010, Lisa was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome (Ph) positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) – fast-growing cancer of a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lisa, her husband and her Swiss medical team quickly created a treatment plan and, within two days, she started chemotherapy and a search for an unrelated marrow donor was launched (none of Lisa’s three siblings were a match).

Within a few months, Lisa and her family moved back to Minnesota and she continued her treatment at the Mayo Clinic where a matching donor was found through Be The Match Registry. On December 2, 2010, Lisa received her life-saving marrow transplant. The transplant was a success and a biopsy nine months later confirmed she was cancer-free. “There’s such a sense of relief once a donor is identified,” Lisa says. “It gives a patient the opportunity to move forward, to achieve the best chance for remission.”

Team MUD Blood

Less than a year after her diagnosis, in an effort to help others heal and to build her own stamina, Lisa organized a team for Be The Match Walk+Run.  Her team, the MUD Bloods, which stands for Matched Unrelated Donor, was the top Minneapolis fundraising team in 2011 and 2013.  Since 2011, they have raised more than $85,000 and more than 150 people have participated in Be The Match Walk+Run because of Lisa’s involvement.

This year, in honor of her five-year post-transplant anniversary, Lisa has decided to go all out. The MUD Blood’s goal is to raise $20,000 to bring their total fundraising efforts above $100,000. To make the anniversary even more special, Lisa has invited her marrow donor, Rike, a young woman from Germany, and her doctor, Mark Litzow, to cross the finish line with her on the day of the event.

Extending Her Impact

Lisa’s passion and involvement with Be The Match continues to grow. An outstanding ambassador for the organization, here are some of the many ways she has inspired others:

  • Be The Match Twin Cities Leadership Council member
  • Shared her story at the Atlanta Soiree and the Minneapolis Gala, where she met her donor for the first time. 
  • Spoke on behalf of the organization for corporate workplace giving campaigns and television interviews
  • Hosts registry recruitment events through her connections at Georgia Tech, General Mills and elsewhere


This Women’s History Month, we’re thankful for all Lisa has done to support our life-saving mission!

If you’re interested in getting more involved with Be The Match, visit


7 Responses to “Committed to Making a Difference”

  1. Vicky Garcia says:

    What an inspiring and heart warming story of Lisa overcoming her cancer and the beautiful gift she received from a stranger. I love how she is helping others and paying it forward. Wonderful woman!

  2. Lisa C says:

    Very inspiring and motivating how Lisa continues to pay it forward! Educating people as to the importance of this registry is key and Lisa is clearly spreading the word! I got on the registry 5 years ago when my sister was diagnosed with leukemia, I wasn’t a match for her but thought if I could ever help someone…I would do it in a heartbeat! My call came recently, I was identified as a stem cell match through Be The Match. I just found out that my recipient is doing well, engraftment has occurred and they are out of the hospital, I honestly cried tears of joy for this dear person who I know has gone through so much! I continue to pray for my recipient every day.

  3. Susan Kurjiaka says:

    Great to hear this! My son Sean posted on behalf of his wife, who also has Phila.-chromosome Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She found a partial match donor (she has no sibs). I & my husband are too old to donate, but we are SO VERY grateful for whoever donated for Laura. She has had a few setbacks but passed her sixth-month transplant anniversary earlier this month. She and my son are separated because he must keep his job (in Idaho) and she is being treated at Vanderbilt in Tennessee. . . we hope they will be reunited soon, and welcome prayers for all of us.

  4. Gina Isabel says:

    These stories are really inspirational! I have been on the donor list for years and I pray that I will be a match before I reach the age limit.

  5. Gina Isabel says:

    These stories are inspirational. I hope that I will be a match for someone before I reach the age limit.

  6. cathy klier says:

    As far as I know, you do not have any costs for the initial testing to be a donor. My daughter just did it. You request to be a donor at the be the match site and they send you a swab. You swab the inside of your cheek, enclose it in the prepaid envelope, mail it back. That’s it.

  7. Diane Caruso says:

    Truly inspirational! This is such a great cause and it’s the teams like yourself that keep the momentum going that is so awesome to see. We are proud to be part of this 5K and to also help raise funds. Keep up the great work!

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