Monday, February 18, 2013

Call to Arms

Tomorrow is my Mom’s birthday. Some time ago I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, and besides the obvious, “An instantaneous cure for cancer,” she said, “I would like you to post something on your blog.”

I had absolutely no idea what she wanted to post or why. Of course, I agreed, but I got her a gift too -- a silly little art figure made out of old tin cans. I know, it sounds odd (and it is) but we found it at an art show a few months ago and it's really cute.  

This morning my Mom emailed me the paragraphs below and asked that I post them. She even came up with the nifty title on her own. I was very impressed!

After I read her text, I was speechless. An hour later, all I can say is this...

Birthdays have quickly taken on a much deeper meaning for me -- my kids' birthdays, my parents', others', my own. Before cancer, they seemed mostly about meals, cakes, balloons, and gifts; about to-do lists and a few fun hours of a family party. Now, they're still about those things because those things are still delicious and so much fun. But now, birthdays are also about something much more -- something kind of sacred. 

Another thing that has become kind of sacred to me is my time at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I know that sounds odd, because it's not a place you'd think that I would like to go. You're right -- I don't necessarily like to go there. But every third Wednesday when I go there for my infusion (with my Mom), I'm so grateful to be there with her, and with such hope and faith that I will be cured. I will forever credit that place with saving my life, and I am thrilled that my Mom's idea could bring some of you to a place that means so much to me. 

(Also, I wrote a bit about donors back in October in a blog linked HERE. It's so weird, and neat, to read this post months later. Little did I know what adventures were still in store!) 

So now, for once, I'm going to shut up and let someone else talk. Happy Birthday, Mom ... Here is your post.

*  *  * 

Call to Arms
Written by Anne Lang

Over the past seven months the question and answer I heard the most is, “And your birthdate?” Tara’s response, “3-10-1980.” Typically before, during, or after this exchange I would be reading one of Dana-Farber’s publications. One magazine covered the story of a Dorchester resident, Eric Hall. Mr. Hall has donated blood platelets 24 times a year for over 27 years. He has just made his 583rd donation. Yep, you read that right! And then another publication commented about how Dana-Farber had a shortage of blood platelets. And then those two thoughts -- Tara’s birthday in March and Dana-Farber’s need for blood platelets -- fused. What more meaningful gift could we give Tara than a blood platelet donation for a cancer patient in need.

So, I called the Blood Platelet Donation Center and I spoke to the most helpful and caring Dana-Farber staff member, Sean. And Sean said he would be more than glad to help orchestrate donations in Tara’s honor. For those of you who would be first time donors, Sean would do about a ten minute pre-screening over the telephone to make sure that you are eligible to donate. Then if you are good to go, Sean will schedule you for an appointment to donate. First time donors can only give during the following hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. through 11 a.m. Friday. Typically the Donation Center can only take about 2 first time donors at a time. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours to donate (think of Eric Hall). The donation center is located at Dana-Farber on the first floor of the Jimmy Fund building at 35 Binney Street.

If you are interested in making a blood platelet donation here is what I suggest. Find a buddy to go with you (that it will make it way more fun), and then call Sean at 617-632-2249, let him know you would like to make a donation in Tara’s honor and the process will be set in motion. Sean said there is a lot of availability beginning March 13 so you should be able to get a time that works for you. For those of you who are reading this blog and live out of state, you could contact your local cancer hospital and make a donation there. I know the hospital would be ever so grateful.

Thank you for giving this life saving birthday present.

Eric Hall -- master platelet donor!


  1. Hi Tara,
    You may not remember me - we swam together at Bowdoin briefly, and I know Brian and Greg from South Boston - but I wanted to let you know that Tuesday 2/19/13 was my first platelet donation. I stumbled across your blog on a Bowdoin Sun post and it, along with starting a job in hem/onc at BWH earlier this year inspired me to donate. I'll be making donations in your honor, as well as the honor of the patients I work with, twice a month for as long as I'm able. Thank you for sharing you story - so inspiring!
    Becca Ahern

    1. Hi Becca! Of course I remember you and I'm sorry that I'm only now finding your comment. That is so wonderful that you donated. On behalf of the very grateful person who will receive your platelets, thank you so very much! Twice a month is a huge commitment and you will make such a difference. xo Tara