We’re all different and there are no rights or wrongs when it comes to how we feel. There is only how we feel.
This is the second blog post from my friend Katrina (KKD) who shares her feelings about her donor journey & experiences. Her last post was about registering as a potential stem cell donor. This one touches on how she later felt on learning that she had been matched with a patient in need.
It’s an intensely personal experience for each of us.
Thank you Katrina for being so candid and for sharing yours.
After I received my donor card from Delete Blood Cancer UK, I was a little disappointed. I’m sure anyone reading this post will empathise with the deflation felt when you learned you weren’t a match for Margot.
I skim read the materials that talked about how rare it is to be matched and concluded that I probably wouldn’t get that call. My bloodlines come from Ireland, Scotland, India and Malaysia. And when you delve into our family tree, you find all sorts of other influences too. When I was young, people would ask where I came from and I would assertively announce ‘Planet Earth’, which must have seemed precocious at the time.
The truth is, growing up, I never felt proud of my mixed heritage, as a child you just want to fit in and belong. As an adult, I’ve put my understanding of multiple cultures to good use by arbitrating between groups that wouldn’t normally find common ground.
However, as a child it felt like every part of society was constantly reminding me that I didn’t belong. I wasn’t white enough or black enough, poor enough or rich enough, smart enough or I was just too clever for my own good. My experiences had a traumatising effect on me and I started taking on allergic reactions to food, specifically peanuts.
Ironically, after the psychological association was made, it was my immune system – my stem cells – that were causing the reactions. They were perceiving threats where there were none but also receiving negative reaffirmation each time they leaped to my defence. Because, every time I went into anaphylactic shock, everyone around me would stop and make it their priority to save my life. The more bullying and ostracisation I encountered, the more severe and regular the reactions became.
It was by understanding these subconscious connections that I was able to cure myself of my allergies three years ago. Until that time I had been told I probably wouldn’t reach the age of 35 and I wasn’t allowed to be a blood or organ donor.
When I learned that Margot had blood cancer I was fresh in the process of tasting new foods and rediscovering my own longevity of life. Wanting to donate bone marrow was not a selfless act for me. I yearned to feel like I was part of an indiscriminate world community that believes in caring first and questioning later.
Being matched with someone, especially as a perfect match, made me feel complete and connected, possibly for the first time in my life. I feel like I re-joined the human race and that my home is now, truly, Planet Earth.
For me, this procedure and the community supporters it attracts represents a new way of helping people understand the importance of equalities and human rights issues. It provides everyone with a positive, tangible way of opting in to a new kind of world community mind set, regardless of background and without the need for legally enforced structures.
Anyway, I’m rambling! As a result of the allergy, the veins in my arms are not great. On top of that, I fall unconscious whenever anyone tries to take my blood. It’s my subconscious deciding I’m in danger and need to let the medical professionals take over. This was not ideal for the donation process so caused a few little challenges that I’ll tell you about in my next blog.
Team Margot Ambassador & Donor
Please click here to see the next blog by Katrina.