In early 2012, Maureen was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She had her transplant later that year. During her transplant journey, she met a number of patients who never found their match. So, after she had her transplant, Maureen knew she wanted to help others get the same second chance at life that she did.
Creating a ripple effect
Having been an RN, and an avid volunteer for local organizations, Maureen always had a giving heart. After her transplant, she looked into volunteering again. Her volunteer experience with Be The Match started with doing drives to add potential donors to the Be The Match Registry. She really enjoyed talking to people about the transplant experience and the importance of joining the registry. Shortly after her first donor drive, she got a call from Be The Match asking if she’d be willing to fly to Washington, D.C. to share her story with legislators.
Maureen says, “If you asked me 10 years ago if I’d be involved in politics, I’d say, ‘No way.’ But I’m a believer in ripple effects. You might only make a small ripple by yourself, but if a lot of people drop a stone in the water, it can make a huge wave.” So when she was asked to help, she replied, “Of course. I want to do anything I can to help others.”
Sharing your story can make a difference
There are many bills that can help people with blood cancers and disorders get the care they need. For example, right now, hospitals are losing money whenever a patient with Medicare gets a blood or marrow transplant (BMT). Since they can’t afford it, hospitals may stop doing BMT. A new bill called the PACT Act will prevent hospitals from losing money, and will keep BMT available for patients.
With so many bills coming through, sharing your story with lawmakers can help them see why the PACT Act is so important. The BMT experience is unique, and recovery can be hard. Your experience, and your voice, can help those who are just beginning, or in the midst of, transplant. When you share your story, you can show lawmakers what life is like for a transplant patient, recipient, and survivor. This can help make life a little easier for future patients.
If more lawmakers support the PACT Act, it could be passed much faster. Find out who your representatives are.
Take that first step
Maureen continues to be an advocate by doing donor drives, meeting with local lawmakers and she even made a second trip to Washington, D.C. Through volunteering, she’s met other transplant recipients, searching patients, and donors. She finds inspiration in everyone having their own unique story but yet working towards the same goal: to give people with blood cancers and blood disorders a second chance at life. She says, “The whole experience has been very rewarding. It truly feels like I’m giving back to the community and helping to provide the same opportunity for others that I had.”
Maureen offers one last piece of advice, “Don’t ever believe you can't make a difference. It may be small, but it can make a huge impact in the end. Just take that first step.”
How you can make a difference
There are many ways you can help:
- Send a message to lawmakers, encouraging them to sponsor the PACT act. Stand out by telling your story!
- Post about your BMT experience and the PACT Act on social media using #BeTheMatchAction.
- Sign up for the Be The Voice e-newsletter to hear about upcoming advocacy opportunities
- Host a drive to add more potential donors to the registry.
Learn more about all the ways you can help: BeTheMatch.org/Advocacy