With his loving wife Laura by his side, Steve Barber received a life-saving transplant facilitated by Be The Match more than 10 years ago. The couple feels very fortunate for the gift of hope they received—and now they’re dedicating their legacy gift to delivering that same hope to more patients
Steve was never one to slow down. In fact, he routinely ran 2-4 miles after work, and with ease. But at one point, his energy and stamina began to steadily drop. He found he could only run 1-1.5 miles, at most. Steve scheduled bloodwork with his doctor and it came back with low hemoglobin. For months his doctors monitored the situation, but it only worsened. He began blood transfusions and eventually was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)—a bone marrow and blood disease—in the fall of 2011. Soon his only chance at a cure was a blood stem cell transplant from an unrelated matching donor.
Steve and Laura turned to Be The Match® for help and fortunately they found a matching donor. And when an unexpected health emergency postponed the transplant by several months, the donor waited and stayed true to his word. “He remained committed, which meant so much to us,” Laura said.
In the fall of 2012 Steve received his life-changing blood stem cell transplant. And while the couple had lived through cancer before (Laura is a breast cancer survivor), they knew next to nothing about transplants or blood cancer. They were especially grateful for the in-depth support they received from Be The Match at every step of the transplant process.
Appreciating life, one day at a time
Steve says he always lived life focusing on the future, but after the transplant he had to reign it in and focus only on the present. “We had to start living day to day,” says Steve. “We’d think, ‘Today, we’re going to do everything we can to stay safe and healthy.”
The transplant recovery process took numerous months, as it often does—but Laura stayed by his side, dedicating her days to following all the instructions and care required for his recovery. “World’s greatest caregiver,” Steve says, proudly.
For Laura, the recovery process brought to light the full extent of support someone needs to get through transplant and recovery: “People don’t realize that if a patient cannot find a caregiver, they can’t move forward to transplant,” says Laura.
Today Steve is doing very well and works full time. While he does continue to manage graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD)—a common, sometimes serious side effect of transplant—he is still able to stretch, exercise and find other ways to stay active.
A lasting legacy to bring hope to more patients
Steve’s second chance at life had already inspired the couple to volunteer and champion Be The Match and the transplant center. Now, Steve and Laura are expanding their support and impact by including Be The Match in their estate planning gift.
The two are passionate about sharing their story to inspire others to join them in supporting Be The Match, whether that's through philanthropy, registry recruitment or education to dispel misconceptions.
“Everyone has heard of breast cancer—there’s so much awareness of other cancers,” Laura says. “But I didn’t know anything about transplant, or even blood cancer or blood disorders.”
By leaving a generous legacy gift to Be The Match in their estate plan, she and Steve hope to shine a much-needed light on blood stem cell transplants and the need for more potential donors.
For Steve, the legacy gift ladders up to one singular goal—provide hope to more patients:
“There is hope at the end of this journey,” he says. “It is life-changing. There is hope.”
Be The Match is extremely grateful for Steve and Laura’s generous gift, which will go a long way as we continue the mission to save more lives through transplant and cellular therapy.
If you’re interested in making a legacy gift by including Be The Match in your estate planning, please email Amy Bigot or call her at (763) 406-8725. You can also discover more ways to support our cause.