When the new year rang in 2022, 32-year-old Caryn had great hopes for the year ahead. She and her husband, newlyweds, had recently moved to California from New York so Caryn could begin her graduate studies in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Southern California. Caryn had a lot on her plate, so when she began to feel a bit more fatigued than normal she did not think much of it. Weeks later, Caryn noticed small bumps behind her ears and down her neck that just did not go away. After a night out with friends, those bumps began to throb and she knew then that something was very wrong.
Caryn couldn’t have imagined the news she was about to receive. After a visit with her doctor, she was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Her diagnosis came as a shock because she never felt sick. The very rare and aggressive form of cancer was overproducing white blood cells, so Caryn started a series of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the treatment began to destroy Caryn’s healthy red blood cells as well as the white blood cells, and she relies on regular blood infusions to keep her strength up.
A blood stem cell transplant is the best chance for Caryn to be cured of leukemia. She is more likely to match with a donor who shares her ethnic background. However, Asian patients only find a matching donor 47% of the time – and only nine percent of the millions of potential donors on the Be The Match Registry® identify as Asian. That’s why her family has rallied friends, classmates and Asian American organizations across the U.S. to share Caryn’s story as she eagerly searches for a match. The Swab For Caryn team has helped inspire nearly 6,000 people to join the Be The Match Registry.
To help patients like Caryn, Be The Match is launching the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Member Enrollment Program to increase the number of blood stem cell donors of Asian American and Pacific Islander ancestry. Join us in our mission to save lives today. To learn more about the AAPI Member Enrollment Program and how you can help diversify the registry, visit bethematch.org/aapi.