Urgent need for bone marrow donor

Letter No. 344 | January 27, 2010

Dear Jon,

Could you post this on the web site for Nanty Glo and Blacklick areas? We still have family living in these areas. I'm hoping your area will see these attachments and do a bone marrow drive in your area. It could SAVE A LIFE; if not a match for my son, maybe someone in your area. Our family came from Austria and you have many in your area that could be a match due to our heritage, according to the bone marrow transplant doctor.

Thank you and GOD bless. (Details follow.)

What is a HERO? – and Who can become a HERO?

Bob Chernisky family

Most people call a "HERO" a person who will do something sacrificially to save a life.

Let me tell you about my son, Bob Jr. He's 42 years old, married to a wonderful girl named Johanna (Trumbull), and they have three beautiful children, Tori (17), D'Mitri (3) and William (2).

For about 10 years Bob has organized "Relay For Life” Teams to raise money for people with cancer and to find a cure. He started when he worked at Walmart in Sturbridge as a Human Resource person. Then he organized a family team when he stopped working for Walmart.

You may know him as the guy with weird hats who ran bingo games at Walmart for senior citizens, or as the guy playing the Big Red Colon Cancer Polyp at the Southbridge Relay for Life. Bob wore that cancer polyp costume in 2008. He walked around teasing people so they would buy water balloons to throw at him. Everyone loved “Bob the Polyp!”…and every water balloon contributed a dollar to the fight against cancer.

Well, as often happens in life, Bob suddenly finds himself on the other side of the fence.

Bob was diagnosed with Leukemia in December and now needs a bone marrow transplant. Bob's brothers were tested, but neither is a match (Bob has a rare type). So far we haven't found a match for him even though there are millions in the International Bone Marrow Registry.

Yet cancer hasn't stopped Bob from bringing smiles to folks' faces. While at UMass Medical receiving his first rounds of chemotherapy, Bob organized a Christmas celebration for patients and staff right there on the ward! He asked family and friends to donate gifts for everyone on the oncology ward. He lined up a Santa to come in on Christmas Day! And the ward had a real celebration including some Christmas treats and some rousing Christmas carols.

Bob said, "I realized there are a lot of people here who don't have a support system like mine. And I couldn't stay in high spirits without God, family, and friends supporting me."

Walmart relay for life

“So if you know somebody is stuck in the hospital with cancer, you should give them your support. It means so much and gives them reason to hope. You don't have to do much,” says Bob, “but it will help and bless you both.”


Will YOU support and encourage those with cancer? Could you be Bob's hero?

According to Darryl Cunningham, a recruiter for the local Caitlin Raymond Bone Marrow Registry, there is about a 1-in-20,000 chance that two random people will match and that depends a lot on their family heritage. Yet despite the long odds, folks are lining up to help:

We had a bone marrow drive a couple of weeks ago at Charlton Baptist Church and 138 heros came forward and donated. We're hoping and praying for a match for our Bob, but any of those 138 samples could save someone who has been waiting for a long time. What a blessing that will be for anyone waiting for a match…and for the hero who came forward!

Now Bob and his family are looking for more heros just like those 138.

Quick, painless and free!

Here's your chance to be a HERO—either for Bob or for someone else waiting for a donor match.

On Tuesday, February 2nd, Coca Cola in Westboro is holding a donor drive for their employees.
On Saturday, February 6th, the Caitlin Raymond team will be at 12 CRANE, the new entertainment complex in Southbridge, to test anyone willing to be a donor and become a HERO.

All you need to do is just swab with a Q-tip inside your cheek and fill out some paperwork for the registry. It's quick and painless, and it's free. You need to bring your health insurance information, but you will never pay any part of it.

At 12 CRANE there will be raffles and all money collected will help support Bob's family during his recovery. (He will be out of work for up to a year.) There will also be games to keep the children busy while you learn how YOU can save a life, then fill out the paperwork and be tested.

Also on February 6th there will be a Benefit Band Concert at Mill Street Brews on Mill St. in Southbridge. Come down and enjoy some great live bands and buy some chances to win some super raffle gifts – including some very special ones for your sweetheart for Valentines Day.

Then on Sunday, February 7th, the Caitlin Raymond team will be at Temple Baptist Church on Stafford Street in Cherry Valley to register another group of Bone Marrow HEROS. So, if you miss it in Southbridge on Saturday, just go to Temple Baptist on Sunday.

Watch for other bone marrow drives and fund raisers for Bob and his family. We expect to announce registry dates for Holland Church, Oak Hill Bible Church, Faith Baptist Church and others. More fundraisers are also in the works. But please don't delay. Thousands of people are praying daily, hoping to be healed through a bone marrow match.

One final way to be a hero is to help others save a life. You can do that by organizing a bone marrow donor event in your own community, church or club. If you want to talk about being that kind of hero, call me, Cathy Chernisky at 508-764-7864.

Bob and his family would like to let all his supporters, donors, PRAY-ERS and encouragers know that they thank God for each and every one of you. They have seen blessing after blessing through this difficult time and it certainly makes the battle easier to fight.

Catherine A. Chernisky
Southbridge, Mass.


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