Leukemia put her life ‘on hold,’ but that didn’t stop Ontario woman from recruiting bone-marrow donors

Published: June 12, 2014

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Moneet Mann. 25, of Brampton, Ontario was diagnosed with leukemia last fall. She is being readmitted to hospital on Friday for her bone marrow transplant. Submitted photo.

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Moneet Mann, a vibrant 25-year-old aspiring teacher, has been forced to put her life “on hold” since she was diagnosed with leukemia eight months ago.

The Brampton, Ont., native was fast-tracking her studies at Thunder Bay’s Lakehead University when her symptoms started to surface late last year.

She grew too tired for her weekly routine that juggled a full-time course load, two jobs, the gym, volleyball, softball and, of course, time with friends.

By October she noticed blurred vision and bruising and wasn’t able to make it up even a single flight of stairs to her third-floor apartment.

She finally went to an emergency room and was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

“The last eight months have been difficult,” Mann told Vancouver Desi from her family’s Brampton home,  where she’s returned since her diagnosis.

“I’m just kind of at a standstill … everything is basically on hold.”

But she’ll be one step closer to recovery on Friday, when she’s due to be readmitted to hospital for a long-awaited bone-marrow transplant.

Finding a donor was one of her biggest challenges. With no matches in her family, she was placed on a cross-Canada waiting list of more than 800 people.

Her most likely match is someone from her own ethnic background, but of the 342,000 Canadians on the donor registry, only four per cent are South Asian.

Mann launched her Will You Marrow Me? campaign in January as a way to raise awareness in the community. Since its inception it has received more than 5,400 likes on Facebook and held swabbing events (to get people on the registry) across the country — reaching as far as Surrey in March.

Now, as Mann gears up to receive her transplant, she plans to continue the campaign.

“I just want to help anybody I possibly can, because someone is saving my life,” said Mann.

“There’s so many other patients waiting for their transplant, a lot of people that are from ethnic communities and they don’t want to go out there and ask for help … they’re embarrassed, they’re shy.

“I was able to come out of my shell and just embrace myself for the way I looked and everything — hair or no hair — and if I can just do this, not just for myself, but if I can actually help some of the other patients that are waiting around the world to find their transplant, why would I stop?”

According to Jillian Adler with Canadian Blood Services, it’s because of community groups like Mann’s that the Canadian registry has been able to increase its diversity by nearly 15 per cent in the last five years.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Adler. “It’s because of the focus that we’ve placed on diverse recruitment.”

And that focus needs to continue, mainly with education and awareness.

“Education is an important component and in many communities that needs to come first,” said Adler.

According to Adler, the ideal donors are men under the age of 35.

For more information on how to register visit onematch.ca. To follow Mann’s journey visit facebook.com/WillYouMarrowMe.

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

THE NUMBERS:

Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Registry is made up of 342,000 Canadians, of whom:

– 71 per cent are Caucasian

– Seven per cent are Chinese

– Four per cent are South Asian

– One per cent are East Indian

– One per cent are African Canadian

– One per cent are Southeast Asian

– One per cent are Aboriginal

– As of April, 178 people are on the waiting list in B.C. and 564 in Ontario.

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