A Q-tip to save a life

Ellen Futterman

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

A Q-tip to save a life

In October, 32-year-old Jane found out she had Stage 3 breast cancer and quickly underwent surgery where doctors performed a bilateral mastectomy. Roughly three weeks later, she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Chemotherapy to treat the leukemia quickly followed, but it didn’t take care of the problem. She underwent a second round, which seems to have helped, but now Jane is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. So far, no match has been found.

Jane, who is a single parent and a registered nurse, isn’t one to bring attention to herself. In fact, she asked that her real name not be used because her ‘tween-age daughter hasn’t told her friends about her mother’s condition.

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But the reality is that without the transplant, Jane’s chances for surviving are dim. “I don’t have months,” she says from her bed at Barnes Hospital.

Jane is an Ashkenazi Jew, who came with her family to St. Louis from the Republic of Belarus when she was 12. The best match would be a sibling, but her sister was tested and found not to be a match. About 70 percent of patients in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family, though typically a match has a similar ethnic background and heritage.

Jane’s hospital co-workers have been terrific, she says, holding all sorts of events to help raise money – thankfully, she still has health insurance through her nursing job but because she hasn’t been able to work for several months, bills are mounting. Co-workers and friends, too, also have joined Be The Match (also know as the National Marrow Donor Program), hoping to be a match for Jane. So far, that hasn’t happened.

This is where you come in. Joining the registry is as simple as swabbing a Q-tip inside your cheek. Even if you aren’t a match for Jane, perhaps you could help another person who, like her, desperately needs a bone marrow transplant to stay alive.

You can request a free kit at bethematch.org and do it yourself at home or you can go to one of two local drives happening in January: Creve Coeur Chiropractic, 12401 Olive Boulevard, on Thursday, Jan. 27 from 3 to 7 p.m. or Fairview Heights Christ UMC, 339 Scott Parkway East, on Sunday, Jan. 30 from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information about either drive or about joining the registry, go to bethematch.org or call Denise Mosley at 314-348-5650. In fact, Mosley said she would be delighted to set up a drive at a St. Louis area synagogue in the near future – so talk amongst yourselves and let’s see if we can get one going.

When I spoke to Jane on Monday, she said she’s doing her best to stay positive as she takes it one day at a time. Though her immune system is compromised, she hopes to go home for her daughter’s birthday at the end of the month.

She knows that might not happen this January, but the more people who join the registry, the better the chances this mother will be able to celebrate her daughter’s birthday next January and for years to come.

Lighten Up shines on

Nearly 200 people are now competing in the Lighten Up Weight Loss Challenge, co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and the St. Louis Jewish Light. The eight-week competition began Monday, Jan. 17 with 198 competitors comprising 50 teams. Both a team winner and an individual winner will be recognized based on percentage of weight lost over the eight-week contest, which ends March 13. Prizes for the winning team include a Cardinals baseball experience (watching batting practice on the field at a 2011 Cardinals game and enjoying the game from box seats), three free personal training sessions for each team member, $50 gift card for JCC services and $50 Sports Authority gift card. The individual winner will receive a night’s accommodation at the Westin Hotel with limo service and dinner at a tony downtown restaurant of their choice. They will also receive the same JCC and Sports Authority gift cards and three free training sessions.

To help keep the competition “light,” each team has been assigned a famous TV sitcom as a team name, such as “Home Improvement,” “All in the Family,” “Friends” and “Mad About You.” The Jewish Light’s team is named “Get Smart,” which of course, we feel is extremely appropriate. What’s nice about these monikers is that they allow for anonymity while checking the standing board.

Stay tuned next week when you’ll meet the Elder family, which has the men of the family competing against the women on two separate teams in the Lighten Up challenge.

NJT kudos

Congratulations to the New Jewish Theatre for its four 2010 Kevin Kline Award nominations, including ones for actors Bobby Miller and Johanna Elkana-Hale. Miller was nominated in the supporting actor/play category for his role in NJT’s production of “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” and Elkana- Hale was nominated for supporting actress/musical for “Last of the Red Hot Mamas.”

Also nominated was NJT’s artistic associate Edward Coffield for director/musical for “Man of La Mancha,” which was performed by Insight Theatre Company.

The 6th annual Kevin Kline Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievement in local professional theater, will be held on March 28 at the Loretto-Hilton Center in Webster Groves.

Comings and goings, mostly goings

Some stores in the Ladue Marketplace are closing, including Monograms For You, which shut down Tuesday, though it will continue to do business on the Internet, and The Little Black Dress, which will stay open until Monday, Jan. 31.