Amanda Schamper was seven weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Now, the Byron, Ill., woman seeks to share her story to raise awareness about how the bone marrow registry helped her.
"I was 30 years old, on top of the world. I had two little ones at home that were 5 and 3 at the time. I was going to my very first OB doctor's appointment and that's when they found the leukemia," Schamper said.
After her diagnosis, she needed a bone marrow transplant, which is why she now believes she is living proof of the good that bone marrow donations can do.
Joining the bone marrow registry is just as easy as donating blood. It takes 5-10 minutes to sign up for the registry and a 30-second cheek swap.
At the time, Schamper was faced with the tough reality of going through chemotherapy while pregnant but it was after her son was born thing took a turn for the worse.
"I continued on that oral chemotherapy drug. It was enough to stabilize the pregnancy and he was perfectly happy and fine except for four weeks after he was born the leukemia actually mutated," Schamper said. "I was told that I needed a bone marrow transplant to live."
She considers herself one of the lucky ones after finding a match in just two months. Even after she was still in need of one more thing, blood donations to make her treatments complete.
"Even before the transplant and after that because it takes a while for the new stem cells to kick in and actually start producing your own. So quite frequently I was dependent on those blood transfusions and platelet transfusions because of very generous people that would donate," Schamper said.
Schamper went from being a stay at home mom to being recruitment coordinator for DKMS -- all in an effort to help others like herself.
"It's amazing, you can't imagine the generosity of people that I have met throughout this journey. Those people that have donated out of the kindness of their hearts. As well as my bone marrow and stem cell donor. To be able to give something of yourself for someone else without asking for anything in return it's just an amazing thing of humanity," Schamper said.
And at this year's ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive, which starts Jan. 9, you can donate blood and join the bone marrow registry. The drive will be held at two locations -- 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency-Grand Ballroom in Chicago and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel, 2301 York Rd., Oak Brook.
Make an appointment for the Blood Drive by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.