For our Buddy Check9 this month, we have been taking a closer look at blood cancer. It is time to meet a survivor and find out what you can do to help others survive.
Christina Schnese is a leukemia survivor. She went to see her doctor when she noticed she just wasn't feeling like herself.
She says the main symptoms of blood cancer are nausea, unexplained weight loss, night sweats and headaches. And she had every single one of them.
But, just because you feel tired during the day doesn't mean you should jump to conclusions.
"This fatigue is not a normal 'hey I didn't sleep last night,'" Scnese said. "It's literally like a bone crushing, I've got to sit down or lay down right now kind of fatigue."
So what exactly is blood cancer?
The short answer is your blood cells stop doing their job correctly.
And this type of cancer is surprisingly common. In fact, every three minutes someone, somewhere in the world, is diagnosed with blood cancer. In the United States alone, there are expected to be 170,000 new blood cancer patients. Of these new patients, about 14,000 of them will be looking for a bone marrow transplant.
That is why Schnese decided to start a nonprofit called Make It Happen USA.
"The whole purpose is to educate people on how easy it is to save a blood cancer patient," Schnese said.
The nonprofit helps get people on the bone marrow and blood stem cell registry, as well as help patients navigate what is going on in the medical community.
She says that getting on the registry extremely easy and only takes three minutes of your time. Simply fill out an application, swab your cheeks, and stick all of that in the mail.
The idea of donating blood marrow might be a bit intimidating, though. Doesn't it hurt?
"It does hurt, I'm not going to say it doesn't," Schnese said, "but 90 percent of the time we're not going to ask you for bone marrow, we're going to ask you for your blood stem cells."
The process of donating blood stem cells is super easy too. It begins the same way that donating blood does. After taking the blood, they will spin it to separate the blood stem cells, and then give it right back to you in the other arm.
Whether you have just been diagnosed with blood cancer and need support resources, or you are simply curious about the process of becoming a donor, Make It Happen USA can help answer your questions. You can reach them at 303-667-6657.