A Palm Beach County, Fla. mother is in need of Haitians to join a bone marrow registry in hopes of finding a match to help treat her leukemia.
By Robenson Bernard | Guest Author
As a physician’s assistant in West Palm Beach, Fla, Rose Bradwell knows all too well the delicate balance between living life with and managing one with a chronic condition. In 2020, the wife and mother of three daughters was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is now seeking a stem cell transplant to help treat her cancer.
Her best bet for survival? Finding a donor who’s black and of Haitian descent.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, The Gift of Life Marrow Registry is holding a blood donor recruitment drive in Boca Raton, Fla., in the hopes of helping Bradwell find a donor. The organization is calling on those ages 18 to 35 and in good health to join the registry as soon as possible.
According to the registry, those with African or Haitian lineage are her best hope in finding a match to survive—none of her family members are a close enough match to donate.
When Bradwell was diagnosed, she initially went in for what she thought was tonsillitis. Since then, Bradwell, 47, has undergone several treatments — including chemotherapy to treat the aggressive blood cancer. At this point, however, Bradwell needs a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC), or stem cell transplant, to help her fight the disease.
The stem cell transplant is not based on blood type, but on genetic matches, Bradwell explained in an exclusive interview with The Haitian Times.
“I’m still searching for an ideal 8 out of 8 match, but I’m not sure what the genetic match consists of,” she said. “I know that my match will be tied to Haitian ancestry.”
However, finding a match has been extremely difficult, given that less than 25% of African Americans find their match in the registry. Being of Haitian descent makes the probability even less, Bradwell explained.
A lack of representation of racial and ethnic minorities on the registry means only 29% of Black people with blood cancer can find a match, said a representative of The Gift of Life Marrow Registry. The 32-year-old organization aims to facilitate blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases. They also house their own state-of-the-art stem cell collection center, biobank and laboratory.
Bradwell has made it part of her mission to educate as many people as she can about joining the registry, about blood diseases and how they affect the Haitian community.
“I really don’t have time to be sad. As long as I have life in me, I will live and make the best of every day,” Bradwell said. “I have a purpose, and that drives me and encourages me to fight.”
Bradwell credits her strong support team, which fuels her. She believes she has the best siblings, husband, children, and friends a woman can imagine, and they are all with her during this battle.
Very confident in her medical team, Bradwell also credits her hematologist, who is “extremely reassuring,” she said.
“My fear during this situation is that someone else is going through a worse experience than mine,” she said. “[So] who am I to wallow in despair and pity for myself? There is no time for that.”
The donor recruitment drive will be held at 1200 Yamato Road, Boca Raton, Florida, on November 19th, from 8:00 am to 12:00 p.m.
To join the registry, a technician simply swabs the inside of a donor’s cheek and the donor completes a registration questionnaire. Those unable to attend the donor recruitment event in person may request that a swab kit be delivered to their home.
For further information and to order a swab kit, visit https://www.giftoflife.org/dc/rosebradwell. To hold a drive, email Gift of Life Marrow Registry Recruitment Manager Traci Ackerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Gift of Life Marrow Registry, visit www.giftoflife.org.