In this section, we document experiences from community members who have been involved in life-changing experiences with the organizations Vitality Volunteers work with. Through this initiative, we hope to inspire other volunteers and community members to do the same and help change lives.
Matthew: Author, Motivational Speaker, and Cancer Survivor
Matthew began his career in financial services in 1997. He became a wholesaler and worked for companies that manufacture products and meet with advisors. In 2002, he became the top of his company. In 2003, he became the top in his industry. He found his calling and passion in helping advisors and clients. Matthew was 39 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. He had three children under the age of 5, and his father-in-law was battling pancreatic cancer at the same time. After a serious car accident, Matthew experienced severe headaches, massive pains, strokes, and sleeplessness. After countless MRI/MRA scans, he found out he had brain cancer. The experience changed him in a way that he immediately started to see life through a new set of lenses. He was given a different and better perspective on life and the fragility of it. His support system was essential during his cancer treatment. His catharsis was writing. He wrote about his new understanding of life and what was really important. He wrote "Starting at the Finish Line" and became a motivational speaker. In his view, volunteering with health organizations is selfless and necessary for patients and communities. He would like to send a message to all volunteers that they are "leaving an indelible mark on people's lives, for all the work, all the pain, and all the inconvenience, you are doing more for people than you will ever realize."
Allison, A Stem Cell Donor
Allison is a bone marrow donor through Be The Match. She was inspired to join the registry because Polycystic Kidney Disease runs in her family. Since organ donors who she had never met were able to give multiple members of her family a transplant, she wanted to return the favor. She joined the registry in her senior year of high school at 18, and she was called up as a potential donor ten years later. She underwent further testing to see if she was a good match for donating her bone marrow. She was close to a perfect match and was ecstatic that with "not too much discomfort, [she] was able to give someone a second chance of life." In her words, it was "the most gratifying feeling in the world." She says it is a relatively painless process for the donor to give someone the quality of life to continue. With her tenth donation anniversary in September, she feels that donating her bone marrow gave her the chance to finally "close up the circle of other people giving to [her] family." Allison has a Be The Match tattoo to commemorate this meaningful journey and it serves as a reminder of the impact she was able to create. Use this link to join the registry and create change like Allison: http://join.bethematch.org/vitality
Jill, A Transplant Recipient
We interviewed Jill, a bone marrow recipient through Be The Match. Jill used to be a dental assistant who wanted to change her career and was planning to return to school to study. She was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2012 before she could start a new job. It was incredibly hard to diagnose the form of blood cancer she had. She was placed on several rounds of chemotherapy. Through connections with organizations like Be The Match, National Bone Marrow Registry, the Gift of Life, and numerous others, Jill was able to find a perfect match all the way in Boston. The transplant from the donor saved her life. She emphasizes the importance of joining the registry because of how difficult it is to find the rare matches for different ethnic groups. These are the matches that can help save someone's life. Having more people on the registry improves the chances of finding a match. She would like potential donors to commit to the registry and work to keep that promise when they make a match. She relays the message that "to be a donor is the best gift you can give somebody, and it is something totally selfless." The more people that can spread the word in the community about joining the registry, the higher the chances we have to save lives.