Community Engagement Representative, Be the Match
Washington, DC

Last night, while my son was going through his bedtime routine, I was listening to a woman talk about her experience with leukemia. She talked about her successful career with a great husband and new baby, and how leukemia stopped her from everything. When she was in the hospital, fighting for her life, she played through all her regrets and they had nothing to do with her career. She questioned why she didn’t take a vacation, why she didn’t spend more time with her baby, and why she didn’t do more for herself. Lucky for her, her sister was her marrow match because she didn’t have a single match in the international bone marrow registry. That’s my job. I try to get everyone I can signed up so that every searching patient has a match when there’s no other treatment for them.

This woman, the moms who have lost their children because of not having a match or transplant rejection, the moms who still have their babies due to a marrow transplant; these women drive me to go to work. And, when I hear their stories or see their children, these women make me want to spend more time with my son. I try to use their story to fight for my own balance while, at the same time, trying to be everywhere I can so someone has another day with the person they love. I constantly live in the balance of the importance of my own life and the importance of others’ lives. I dream of staying home with my son and know I’d never be satisfied doing that. I feel like, if I say no to an event, someone could lose their shot at a cure, and, if I say yes to every event, my son won’t even know me as an important presence in his life since I’ll be gone every weekend. I’m finding solutions but balance in today’s world is never easy.

Sometimes, I wonder if I use the ’cause’ as a reason to feel less guilt when I’m not doing a great job balancing. I also wonder if I use my son as an excuse when I’m not doing as great as I’d like to at work. Being a working mom during the 21st century in the United States is not an easy task. I haven’t figured out balance but expecting to ‘have it all’ is unrealistic and leads to guilt and disillusionment. How do you fix it? Let me know when you find out.