Stem cells are sooo last semester. We’re done learning about hematology and immunology and I was completely fine ignoring the growth factors and processes involved with blood cell development until the boards next year. However, for one of my good friends from college, stem cells are her life. And I don’t mean that figuratively, she’s on the hunt for some shiny new stem cells to help fight off lymphoma. So to try to spread the word of DKMS, the country’s largest bone marrow donor center, and find her an HLA match, I fashioned some sparkly stem cell cupcakes to have an excuse to link to her new website: www.teamlindsay.org
There’s not much to stem cells aesthetically — just a little rim of cytoplasm and a humungo nucleus (which I made by cutting out a circle stencil and sprinkling blue sugar in the shape). But their potential is enormous. And I’m not talking about the taste. Hemopoietic stem cells can grow into any possible blood cell in the presence of appropriate growth factors, including the white blood cells Lindsay desperately needs. By signing up to be a DKMS donor, you’ll be sent a kit in the mail including a kit to swab your cheek so that they can type your specific immune cell complex. Everyone has a very unique HLA complex, so it’s not easy to find a match. Lindsay hasn’t had any luck yet, and maybe you could be the one to save her life! Check out her site for more details about what this whole process involves — it’s very easy and not as scary as you might think. Most stem cells for this donation process are taken from your blood through an IV, not from your bone marrow, and then harvested in a lab. Here’s my rendition of stem cells in a petri dish:
Lindsay was diagnosed during the fall of our senior year, but she graduated on time, as an engineer nonetheless, and maintained a positive attitude throughout the year. She might have had to drive back to Durham for a chemo treatment in the middle of our senior beach week 2 hours away, but that didn’t stop her (although she did get pulled over as she sped back to the beach, but of course she talked her way out of it). Here’s a pic of us and a few friends at a fundraiser she threw last year for the organization I’m Too Young for This, a support group for young adults with cancer. (She’s on the left, love that dress)
She’s such a great person, she has more friends than anyone I know and I want to do everything I can to help her. Even if that includes baking a few stem cell cupcakes as an excuse to promote DKMS on my baking blog.
UPDATE 4/10: Lindsay found a match!! Thanks for all of your support, but the fight’s not over. There are so many more that need your help!