a son speaks about cancer…

Jon and Christina on a Mother and Son bonding trip.

This  is the third installment on the importance of Bone Marrow donation. Leading up to GATS bone marrow donation registry drive at the TSG booth, August 21-23, in Dallas, Tx .   This week is from the perspective of Christina’s son Jon.  His perspective is unique.  He is the son of a survivor, as well as being a donor himself.

Jon’s Story:


My mother(Christina Schense) is the most stubborn woman in the world, and don’t take this wrong, I do not mean it as an insult. Growing up with a strong mother can be difficult. Saying something like, “I can’t do it” did not earn me any points. No matter the outcome, I had to always give it a try.

So when she told me in 2010 that she had leukemia, I never doubted her will power. She would beat it. I knew cancer had no chance. I also knew my mother would take this on as she does everything else, whole heartedly, she would leave nothing on the table.

I remember watching my mother go thru the process of battling her cancer. The stress and the pain she was in, that was so difficult to watch at times. What cancer and chemo did to her strong body, that was horrific. Finding my mother passed out on the bathroom floor, too weak to lift herself up after a severe bought with nausea, that was heart breaking. Here I was taking care of the woman that had taken care of me my whole life.

John signing up as a registered donor
John signing up as a registered donor

Finding out that a transplant would be the only way to cure my mother was a blow. Worst, she had a 50% chance of surviving the transplant if a donor was found. I signed up on the registry thinking I would be a match for her. I was not. Talk about the true definition of helpless, there was nothing I could do for my own mom. I hated cancer.

Then the call came, a donor had been found. The match was the answer to our prayers. The transplant was like a miracle. It happened slowly, life after the transplant was extremely difficult for my mom but slowly she recovered.


A couple of years later I received the call that I was match for someone. All I was told was that my recipient was a 31 year old domestic woman with a family. I remember thinking that this family was going thru the same experiences I had gone through. I knew how they felt waiting to find a match for their mom. I wanted to donate to not only help this woman fight her blood cancer but to also help her family. I related to everything they were feeling. I finally felt like there was something I could do. That feeling of helplessness that I had felt when I was not a match for my mother finally disappeared. I was able to bring our story full circle. My stem cells would do for a stranger and her family what a stranger had done for my mother and our family.

As my mother always says, “Donating your blood stems cells doesn’t just save a life, it saves a family.”

jon donation

The actual donation process was so easy. First step is just some simple blood work. Once they confirm you are a match then you go in for a full physical to make sure you are healthy enough to donate. Third step is another set of blood work that is done right before you are going to start the donation process, again to make sure you are have not caught anything. Then you start the process week. During that week you will get a shot of day of a medication called Neupogen. Neupogen helps your bone marrow make extra stem cells. On the 5th donation process. It is as easy as donating blood except it takes about 6 hours. That is it.

Jon working a donor driver and some of the other Make it Happen volunteers
Jon working a donor driver and some of the other Make it Happen volunteers

Now, my mother has founded Make It Happen USA. We register new donors, we educate the public on how easy it is to save a life and we help blood cancer patients. I will be honest there are weekends that I wish I could just sleep in, weekends that I wish I didn’t have to get up at 5:30 AM to be set up and swabbing new donors by 7:00 AM. But then I watch my mom as she talks to people, I see how people listen to what she has to say, I see how she impact them. Then I watch as she brings these people over to the table and passes them over to me and I register them. It is worth giving up those extra hours of sleep. Dianne gave our family this extra time with mom and mom is making sure we do not waste any of that time! Why wouldn’t everyone sign up to give someone extra time?

Road Tested Living’s Side:

It is my hope that Christina and her families story is encouraging you to learn more about the bone marrow registry and its importance.  Please stop by the Trucking Solutions Group Booth # 5057 to learn more about the bone marrow registry, and to donate some blood to the American Red Cross as well.


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