McKesson employee and mother of leukemia survivor donates marrow to pay it forward
Lisa was at her desk at McKesson Corporation when she got a text message from Gift of Life saying, “You’re a potential match for someone.” Without knowing anything else, she immediately responded, “Yes, absolutely!” It did not matter to Lisa that it was for a stranger, or that she would have to travel to the donation center, or that they were asking for bone marrow. She had the opportunity to save the life of someone with leukemia, and that meant the world to her – this was her opportunity to pay her family’s good fortune forward to someone else.
Lisa’s 17-year-old son is a leukemia survivor. When he was just four years old he caught a cold that would not go away. When it finally cleared up he immediately got a sinus infection, and that never quite healed before turning into an ear infection. Lisa asked for a blood test, but the news they got the next morning changed her family’s life. “I will never forget that phone call,” she said. “He was diagnosed with leukemia.”
For just over three years her son received a regimen of chemotherapy designed to cure him of leukemia. “We had outstanding doctors and incredible nurses who helped our whole family,” said Lisa. “It isn’t just one family member who is sick – the whole family is hurting.” Her son responded well to his treatment, and life began to work its way back to normal. “They consider children to be cancer free if there are no signs for ten years, so we consider him cured,” she added.
“There are big misconceptions about donating bone marrow,” said Lisa. “I had no pain at all, just a little achiness for about two days. I threw away the pain medication they gave me, I didn’t need it."
If her son’s treatment had not worked, his only hope would have been to find a matching marrow donor. So when McKesson, a Gift of Life corporate partner, offered the opportunity to join the registry during their annual, free health screening, she did just that.
A year later she got the call and said yes. “McKesson gave me paid time off, I didn’t have to use a minute of vacation time,” she said. “They are very dedicated to this cause.”
“There are big misconceptions about donating bone marrow,” said Lisa. “I had no pain at all, just a little achiness for about two days. I threw away the pain medication they gave me, I didn’t need it. The second day I went grocery shopping and then was right back into my routine.” Although she admits to feeling some slight fatigue towards the end of the first few days after donating, she also says, “I would do it again in a minute.”
“I felt I was paying our luck forward to help someone else,” she added. “Who wouldn’t want to save a life? How many times do you get the chance to do that?”
Lisa’s entire department at McKesson took her to lunch and bought her flowers to celebrate with her. For now she’s looking forward to getting an update about her recipient, and urges everyone to join the registry, saying, “This is the best thing you’ll ever do.”
With one son having just graduated high school and both sons involved in sports, Lisa and her husband stay busy.
McKesson Corporation is a valued partner with Gift of Life Marrow Registry in the fight to cure blood cancers. Since 2016, McKesson has offered employees the opportunity to join the registry during their annual health check, and sponsors the $60 per person cost of lab processing each kit. To date, 2,988 McKesson employees have joined the registry, resulting in five matches for patients and one transplant. As the Platinum Sponsor for the Steps for Life 5K of Boston, McKesson brings a large team of employees to run and walk in this annual fundraising event.