BELMONT, Mass. — Deborah Margosian Chapman found herself unusually tired a few months ago. The normally energetic full-time physical therapist and mother of two grown children played tennis a couple of times a week and walked several miles a day. She was shocked to discover that she had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer. The oncologist who spoke to her the evening of her diagnosis told her to pack a suitcase, because she was being admitted the following morning for up to six weeks of treatment. She now needs a marrow donor to save her life. Because Chapman is Armenian — her parents were Alfred and Mary Margosian — she is much more likely to match with someone of Armenian heritage. There are many people of all heritage types looking for a marrow donor. Participating is easy; all it takes is a cheek swab. Chapman is offering a $10,000 reward for a perfect match.
In the meantime, Chapman is receiving chemotherapy, which will hopefully drive the leukemia into remission, but a bone marrow transplant offers the best chance for a cure. Her oncologists have not been very encouraging about finding a match, because of the unique genetic make-up of Armenians.
Be The Match, the National Bone Marrow Transplant organization, is holding a drive on Saturday, October 29, from noon to 4 p.m., at 66 Leonard St., in the office of Light Touch Chiropractic. Anyone between the ages of 18-60 can be tested. This national group allows for an additional 10 years of testing. Armenians between the ages of 50-60 can be tested through this organization. This is not just an Armenian registry; Be The Match is looking for potential donors from all backgrounds for thousands of patients in need.
Donating bone marrow is a non-surgical procedure. For more information about donor criteria and the procedure itself, visit http://www.abmdr.am/donors/.
Other dates include, Saturday, October 22: Flavia Leal Institut, 600 West Cummings Park, Suite 1000 Woburn, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and Thursday, November 3, TJ / Boston College Drive, Alumni Field, 2599 Beacon St., Chestnut Hill, 3:30-7:30 p.m. Everyone involved with this bone marrow drive wants to grow the pool of potential donors by having testing done in her grandparents’ home villages in Armenia, and in Armenian communities in America. They are working with two organizations: The Armenian Bone Marrow Registry and Be The Match. The Armenian Bone Marrow Registry states that $50 will cover the initial costs of testing for one person. Be The Match said that it costs them $100 per test. To help, visit the Armenian Bone Marrow donation page or see the Team Debbi page at Be The Match.
The friends of Chapman are looking for volunteers to help pass out flyers and other tasks for the Be The Match drive on October 29 in Belmont Center. For information or to help, contact Linda Levin-Scherz (llevinscherz(at)gmail.com) or Sue Kelleher (sue.kelleher(at)yahoo.com).