Skip Navigation

Getting muddy and growing up: JJ’s journey

Have you ever set aside a budget for a spring break, road trip or family vacation? If you’re like many people, your answer is probably yes.

But now here’s the next question: How much money have you set aside for the possibility of treating cancer or another life-threatening condition? If your answer rhymes with hero, you’re not alone.

That’s the thing about cancer and other blood diseases. They can come at any time—and rarely are we prepared.

A mother’s instinct

For Danielle and her husband, Anthony, that time came painfully too soon after their son, JJ, was born. Before even leaving the hospital, doctors discovered he had severe congenital neutropenia, a rare disorder characterized by low levels of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell necessary for fighting infections). It was the same condition Danielle had been born with and received a bone marrow transplant for as a teenager. Doctors had reassured her that it was not hereditary—and yet, here baby JJ was, fighting the same disease.

The family’s best hope for JJ was a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, they found a selfless donor on the Be The Match Registry® and in 2017 he received his life-saving transplant at just 10 months old.

JJ, post-transplant, after getting his tubes removed

It’s the little things

Thankfully, JJ’s recovery was surprisingly quick. However, the costs during transplant and recovery really piled up. To make matters worse, Danielle had also paused working in order to care for little JJ and isolate herself from any outside germs. (Patients are required to have a full-time caregiver during transplant recovery.)

Danielle and her husband, Anthony, reached out to Be The Match® for support. Thanks to a financial assistance grant, they were able to focus on getting JJ as healthy as possible. The grant helped cover a lot of the extra—but often overlooked—expenses like meals, hospital parking and gas for regular visits to and from the hospital. These grants would not be possible without the support from our generous community.

“Those were the things I was worried about—the little expenses people don’t even consider,” she says. “That’s where Be The Match really helped.”

Danielle says the grant relieved a lot of the mental and emotional stress that came with those out-of-pocket costs.

JJ, transplant recipient, smiling as he kicks off kindergarten

So how is JJ doing today? He’s thriving and just wrapping up kindergarten. You can often find him on his four-wheeler or getting muddy as he plays in nature. “He loves every moment of being outside,” Danielle says. “And any chance to go camping, he is all about it!”

JJ cruising around in his quad (four-wheeler)

Supporting the journey

More families like JJ’s are calling us every week, needing financial support to get them through a blood stem cell transplant. In fact, we are projecting a nearly 20% increase in the number of financial assistance grants our patients will need this year (compared to last year). That’s hundreds of more patients who are, or will be, struggling to shoulder all the costs associated with transplant.

The good news is that you can help them. Actually, we all can. The Be The Match patient assistance program is funded through our amazing community of kind supporters. College students, graduates, business owners, retirees—all giving and rallying together to support these patients on their journey.

Last year we provided financial assistance to more than 2,300 patients and their families.

Five years ago, one of those families was JJ’s.

Who will we help this year? The answer to that question is in the hands of anyone willing to help—including you. 

You have the power to help families like JJ’s—starting today. You can make a gift of any size online today.

Give now