When Passion Meets Purpose
I was thrust into the transplant world in 1988 when my daughter, Michelle, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Although she received a transplant using her own marrow, a compatible outside donor was never found. A child is not supposed to die before her parents, but cancer has no timetable.
I made a promise to Shelly after she died: if I could help in any way, no one else would ever have to walk the path that my family did alone. When I see Shelly again, I will be able to say: "I couldn't help you, but I helped as many others as I could." This is my way of transforming personal loss and grief into something that is productive and that touches those who need help.
To honor my daughter, my life's focus is on helping other patients, donors, families, and transplant-related businesses to better navigate the HLA testing system. Every day I speak with families who are trying to find that perfect match. I have no clinical background, but I've worked in the system for more than 20 years and have grown with it. I explain to patients and families my sincere belief: if Shelly had her disease today, she would survive because of the advances in the transplant world.
I have worked for two marrow transplant-related nonprofits as executive director and recruitment manager; I've been a recruiter for a donor center, entering people into the Be The Match National Registry; and, I've worked directly with selling HLA testing for four different labs. But perhaps my greatest blessing since Shelly died has been the opportunity to work with Dr. Zahra Mehdizadeh Kashi and her team of professionals at Kashi Clinical Laboratories – people who bring so much passion and purpose to what they do, who share my belief that this work is our life's mission on earth.
Someday I will be able to tell Shelly that I did everything I could to help others with the help of my family at Kashi Clinical Laboratories.