Will You Be Someone’s Hero?
Oct 13, 2022
By Hunter Ferguson, Hunter’s Heroes Founder, with contributions from Sarah Johnson, William Newton Hospital Director of Strategy, Marketing & Communications
Last October, then 22-year-old Hunter Ferguson founded Hunter’s Heroes and joined forces with William Newton Hospital for a Be The Match® virtual donor drive. Be The Match® is a national registry for blood stem cell and bone marrow donors.
Hunter bravely shared her story of being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the hopes of raising awareness about blood cancers. Next week, William Newton Hospital, Hunter’s Heroes, and now also Family Care Center will host another donor drive – this time with both in-person and virtual options.
In conjunction with these events, Hunter has penned a follow-up to her October 30, 2021 Cowley CourierTraveler Weekend Check-Up column:
Hunter’s Journey: A Year Later
It’s been a while, so let me catch you up…
After the virtual donor drive WNH and I hosted last year, I felt a little defeated. I built the whole thing up in my head and had some pretty big expectations. To learn that at the end of the drive we had added three donors to the registry (YAY!!!), I felt underwhelmed. In the column I wrote last fall, I held nothing back. I really put it all out there for the sake of impacting someone enough for them to agree to save another person’s life.
My own stem cell transplant was amazing, humbling, and awful. No matter how much a procedure like that is needed, it’s never easy. After finding out that I needed to do an entire year of maintenance therapy following my transplant before I could find out if it had been successful with any kind of certainty; I felt like a raw nerve. I had been stripped down to be built back up and everyone could see it.
Before I could get through all of the maintenance therapy a scan revealed “slight activity.” That was terrifying to hear. All of the what-ifs started running through my brain. What if the cancer is back? What if the transplant didn’t work? What if I have to do it again? What if I’m out of options? What if they say I’m going to die? Did I fail again?
In my mind, I’d failed by getting cancer, by feeling so awful during treatment, by having to do a stem cell transplant in the first place, by not being able to solicit more donors, and by this cancer potentially having come back.
I needed everything I had been through to matter. I needed a raison d'être which I had decided from the beginning was to help others. Then, when my raison d'être fell short of what I had dreamt it could be, it had me wondering how much my story really mattered.
After letting myself feel that for a minute, I decided to adopt a sports philosophy and leave it all on the field. I played my heart out! I put in a lot of blood, tons of sweat, and more than my share of tears. I gave my all to the cause and it was a pretty great first quarter. Thank God I still have more time to play.
So, in July I decided to make a list. A list of things I wanted to manifest into my own reality. It turned out to be a kind of guidepost. Every time I have a decision to make, I frame it in a way that will help me accomplish something on my list. In August, the first thing on my list manifested, “I will be cancer free.”
As soon as I found out I was in remission, I hit the ground running. I applied to a bachelor’s program, started work as a freelance writer, and put in my application for another job as well.
Now, I’m resuming my work with Be The Match®. I figure that no matter what happens every little bit helps and I gain so much experience and knowledge. Even though I haven’t been able to mark anything else off my list just yet, I am working on a few of them. After all, true satisfaction comes from a life well lived - and that’s just what I intend to do.
How to Help
In expanding the collection options for 2022, the Winfield partners are hoping to add 150 donors to the registry. You can participate in the Be The Match® donor drive hosted by William Newton Hospital, Family Care Center, and Hunter’s Heroes if you are between the ages of 18-40 and meet certain health criteria.
On Wednesday, October 19, there will be a drive-up event at the Family Care Center from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. The first 100 donors will also receive a fresh-baked cinnamon roll.
At Community Night Out on Friday, October 21 at Island Park, William Newton Hospital will also host a walk-up event at its booth from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
Participants will answer a few questions and complete a quick cheek swab. The hospital and clinic will send swabs off to Be The Match® for testing. Donors are then added to the registry to potentially be matched to a patient.
If you cannot attend one of the in-person events, you can begin the steps to becoming a registered donor online. Simply register, wait for your free mail-in kit, swab, and return. Go online at: my.bethematch.org/winfield
Hunter Ferguson is the founder of Hunter’s Heroes and initiated a virtual donor drive in 2021 with promotional help from William Newton Hospital. This article was submitted for the "Weekend Check-Up," a regular health column in the Cowley CourierTraveler penned by employees and friends of William Newton Hospital.
Hunter FergusonFounder, Hunter's Heroes
Posted in Weekend Check-Up Column on Oct 13, 2022