When I first started my position with Hero as the AmeriCorps/Volunteer Maryland Volunteer Coordinator, I had no idea what to expect. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the national bone marrow registry and I knew very little about blood cancer. I knew that I would be helping those impacted by blood cancer, but I never thought about how they would impact me. As time went on, I became more educated and experienced in the work I was doing. The decision about wanting to join the registry became much clearer.
November 28th, 2020 at our Kiddie Academy bone marrow drive in honor of Kristy Cooper, was the first time I was asked if I wanted to join the registry. My site supervisor as well as Hero’s Executive Director, walked over to me and placed her hand on my back. She asked, “Now I’m not pressuring you, but have you considered swabbing to be on the registry? You should do it today while we have all the supplies!”
“Nooo, I don’t know about that. I don’t feel comfortable right now”, I responded. She then asked me, “Well why? What are your reservations?”
“I don’t know. That’s just scary. I just need more time to think about it.”
“Well like I said no rush, take your time, the decision is completely up to you”, she responded.
After that drive, I didn’t give the question another thought, I knew that I was never going to register.
My reservations about joining the registry were simple. First, I am an African-American who grew up with the fear of not trusting the medical system. If it wasn’t my typical check up at the doctor’s office, or a dentist trip, I did not want anything to do with the medical field. I was always told not to trust them, and that they would never have my best interest at heart, so I never questioned it. Second, what if I was actually called because I was a match? I would probably hang up the phone so fast, and pretend that DKMS did not call me. Third, I could not get past the fact of going through with surgery! I was kind of okay with the PBSC method, but the actual bone marrow procedure really freaked me out. I was just moments away from realizing these were all minor issues compared to what individuals diagnosed with blood cancer were going through.
During our first Color the Registry Informational Session, a member of Hero’s board and blood cancer survivor Geneau Thames, spoke about her personal experience. Hearing her tell her story from a woman of color’s perspective, was heart touching. Hearing her story caused me to change my perspective on the situation. I had asked myself, “What if it was me? What if I was the one diagnosed with blood cancer and I had to turn to the bone marrow registry.” I would literally be dependent on someone with the same ancestry as me. My life would depend on it. Looking at it from that perspective truly changed my decision. If more individuals with ethnic backgrounds joined the registry, more matches could be made.
I wouldn’t mind experiencing minor discomfort for a short period of time to save someone who’s been uncomfortable for way longer. Someone who is not just physically uncomfortable, but being emotionally uncomfortable with the unknown of finding a life-saving match. Wow. I just couldn’t imagine.
Today, I can proudly say that I, Charis Taylor, am registered on the National Bone Marrow Registry and if called, I would be more than happy to save another African-American’s life.
It’s not too late for you either! YOU, YES YOU, can become a hero yourself today! Someone else’s life might depend on it as you read this. You could potentially have the opportunity to save the life of a blood cancer patient and their family.
Join the national bone marrow registry with me and thousands of other people! If you would like to learn more information about joining the registry or blood cancer please contact There Goes My Hero at 44-339-4375 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.