VIDEO Cancer Survivor Above and
Beyond the Call of Duty
Three years ago San Bernardino
County Fire Battalion Chief Steve Lasiter made the decision to donate bone
marrow. On Saturday September 12th, he met the man whose life he
Lasiter originally signed up to be a
donor after a former Captain’s brother was diagnosed with leukemia. Though he
wasn’t a match in that case, a year and a half later he got a call from City of
Hope in Duarte that he may be a match for another patient. There are over 9
million people in the bone marrow donor registry, and Lasiter was one of only
two possible matches for Randy Pence. In the end, he was the perfect match.
Pence, a father of three, suffered
from myelofibrosis, a form of leukemia that disrupts your body's normal
production of blood cells. According to the Mayo Clinic, myelofibrosis is an
uncommon type of chronic leukemia - a cancer that affects the blood-forming
tissues in the body.
For the first year after the patient
receives the donation, contact is not allowed between donor and recipient.
After that time, if both parties agreed, they are given each other’s contact
information. Once allowed, Lasiter reached out to Pence and the two have
been emailing each other for the last two years, but they never met in person
until this past Saturday at Duke Medical’s annual Adult Bone Marrow Transplant
Program Reunion in Durham, North Carolina. While Lasiter lives in the Yucca
Valley area, Pence lives 3,000 miles away in West Virginia.
Not only has Lasiter been a
firefighter for 23 years, but he also served as a U.S. Marine for four years after
graduating from high school. Helping people is kind of his thing, but this was
a different experience all together.
“Being a firefighter, I’ve helped
many people through the course of my career. I’ve never had the chance to see
it all the way to the end and see how much of an impact something very specific
I had done would actually impact someone’s life,” said Lasiter.
One of the original funders for a
national registry of volunteers willing to donate bone marrow was the U.S.
Navy, as the Marine Corps is a division of the Navy, more than one story came
full circle when Lasiter decided to donate.
To learn more about how to donate
bone marrow, visit www.bethematch.org. From their
mission statement, “Be The Match Foundation was created by Admiral E.R. Zumwalt
Jr., in 1991 to secure support for the work of the National Marrow Donor
Photos from the Adult Bone Marrow
Transplant Program Reunion can be found at www.sbcfire.org; video at http://youtu.be/T7vTG3RMgRk. Photos
courtesy of Duke Medical.