It’s Her!

7 Jun

It’s her! My donor! My long-awaited perfect match, Maxine.

Mayo Clinic called me yesterday and, with a simple email, a girl named Maxine’s contact information was spelled out before me like any other name in my address book. Along with her info was a letter saying she had left for India in May and would be on the other side of the world from me for a month. 

Of course I couldn’t help but dive right into some dedicated Facebook and Twitter stalking. “M-a-x-i-n-e,” I typed into the blue box, enamored by the character of her name. A picture of a young woman peered back at me through her super-sized sunglasses. I immediately began sobbing, struck back to a year ago when they said a stranger would let me assume her DNA and grow it in my hones. I didn’t expect such a reaction but I guess I was just overcome with joy. Or, since I have never been able to cry at appropriate emotional times (but will cry during Farther of the Bride or when I hit a squirrel with my car), maybe it’s her bone marrow slowly bringing the right life back into me. She said she cries over emotions all the time.

I soon realized we share so many interests – she loves the Backstreet Boys and could apparently give me a run for my money in a 90s sing-off. One of her favorite books is Walden. Her family means everything to her. She studies marketing communications as a junior at Emerson College in Boston, the school I begged my parents to let me visit in my dreamy college-searching days. They knew I was romantically confusing Ralph Waldo Emerson with the school and told me to stick to the Midwest (which admittedly was practical, considering I had just finished chemo two weeks before college).

Be The Match asked if we could possibly wait until their national conference in November to meet in person. Although neither of us felt like we could linger any longer, the opportunity means that our families will be included in our meeting, too. Plus we can share our run-and-embrace with the employees of an organization that has become like family to us, too (check out her stellar performance as woman #1 in this Be The Match-Rhode Island video). So we agreed to wait and will swoon over Skype dates until November.

Maxine

This morning she posted a photo of her at the Taj Mahal. Later she happened to unearth enough WiFi at an eighteenth century Indian palace to email me again. Although she’s still so far away, her incredible altruism for a stranger has never felt so intimate and humbling. I can’t wait to discover more about her.

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32 Responses to “It’s Her!”

  1. Robin Guadagnini June 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    Well, I cried also! What an amazing woman…and how awesome is it that you can see how you both really are a match, not only for the DNA matching numbers that make you a success story, but also with the “little” things in life that make us who we are!

    Looking forward (not patiently) for you all to meet and of course post the video of you two in your sing off from the 90’s.

    Wow…I have goosebumps and tears!

    sending hugs and love,
    Robin

  2. Ellie June 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Oh Jenna, this brought me to tears. Joy for you, deep gratitude to Maxine. I hope she knows what an amazing gift she’s given us in you. And I am BEYOND excited that you’ll be the patient-donor story for the NMDP conference. YAY!

  3. Carrie Webb June 7, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    Choked up. I’ll be there in November. I can’t believe you’re waiting. Strength suits you well, Jenna!

  4. Carly June 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    Yes!! I can’t imagine how exciting it is to finally get to know her. Especially since she sounds super cool!! :)

  5. Kirsten June 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Omg! So exciting! :D

    • Kirsten June 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

      PS: I just saw that video not that long ago. Can’t believe I was seeing your donor and didn’t know it!! She sounds amazing. :)

  6. Kyley Hillesheim June 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    This is so exciting!! She sounds amazing just like you! Can’t until you get to meet her in person! Hoping she’s a fan of peaches n’ cream as well!! :) xoxo!!

  7. Sally Squires June 8, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Jeena: Cue the sound track! I think there’s the making of a movie here. What a great update. Love this post! Here’s to you and Maxine–kindred spirits.

  8. Vicki June 8, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    Jenna,

    Best post on your Blog so far! Two remarkable young women will be meeting soon.

    Vicki

  9. D June 8, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    Wow!!! So happy for both of you! Can’t wait to hear more!

  10. Barbara Nelson June 8, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Jenna, This is so..exciting to hear. We love to hear from you.

  11. Ashlee Suker June 8, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    Oh Jenna this is all so fantastic and exciting :) I’m so happy for you! I think you’ve found a new life-long friend.

  12. Pam Schmid June 8, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    Wow… humbling and so incredibly beautiful. What generosity and love this young woman possesses. Wishing you incredibly blue skies ahead :-)

  13. Julie Kraus June 8, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    Jenna, what a neat story. I am so happy that you know who your donor is. Thanks for the fascinating update. I look forward to hearing more! Wishing you a great summer!

  14. Pat StPierre June 8, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    What a beautiful story! I would love to see a video of when you two finally meet in November!

  15. Dick Embacher June 8, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Isn’t life incredible. We just never know what the journey is going to be. Yours is so filled with mystery and sorrow and joy and jubilation and strength and hope. Please keep on sharing whatever you can of your journey–it enriches my life and many others.Thanks Jenna. Hope you are liking Chicago and all that goes with it.
    Dick

  16. Clare June 8, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Maxine. Maxine! What a special person you are! Jenna, pls send her a special thank you from me, too.

  17. Lois guggisberg June 8, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Jenna, we are so happy for you and Maxine! We remember the tears of joy we experienced when we recieved our first contact from Bryan’s heart recipient. It seemed almost disrespectful, but there was such joy in knowing that his life allowed another person to continue their life journey. His life was truely a gift. We had a very close friendship with 3 of his recipients, it is a life changing experience. So God bless both of
    you, and keep you safe, health, and happy.
    Love, Elmer and Lois

  18. Greg Kaiser June 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Very cool!!! Good for you!!!

  19. Rachel Heiderscheidt June 8, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Wow – so amazing Jenna! Thanks, as always, for sharing.

  20. Maxine June 11, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    Thank you for such a lovely blog post Jenna! And thank you to all the kind words shared by all the commenters! <3 I feel the same way cant wait to become best friends. When we originally started writing letters my parents suggested my scrap my first letter to you because they thought it sounded creepy with all the "I cant wait to be friends forever and meet your whole family and get matching tattoos!" type stuff and they didn't want me to scare you off…. kidding about the matching tattoos… but I would totally get one if you wanted too that is.. Can't wait to see you in November!

  21. Gina Zuniga June 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Jenna – I am so happy for you and Maxine. As a fellow donor there is nothing more rewarding that the gift of life and even more when that gift can be openly shared. November is just five months away – five months to get to know each other and prepare for the most rewarding experience. There will be joy and tears of happiness. Dance and sing to your hearts desires and let no one stop you. Sending you all the best from San Antonio. Gina.

  22. Fran albright December 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    : It is so exciting to know you have that new DNA; a special gift to you this Christmas to know this new person in your life.
    When I ask about Jimmie, his Mom says Jimmie is so happy.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. MDS: The Cost of a Cancer Cure | Top Current Event News - June 12, 2012

    [...] But in May 2011, the National Marrow Program found Langer’s match: a college student named Maxine with whom Langer shares similarities far beyond bone marrow. [...]

  2. MDS: The Cost of a Cancer Cure | Prutic Networks - June 12, 2012

    [...] But in May 2011, the National Marrow Program found Langer’s match: a college student named Maxine with whom Langer shares similarities far beyond bone marrow. [...]

  3. Myelodysplastic Syndromes: The Cost of a Cancer Cure » Health News Live - June 12, 2012

    [...] But in May 2011, “Be The Match” found Langer’s match: a college student named Maxine with whom Langer shares similarities far beyond bone marrow. [...]

  4. Myelodysplastic Syndromes: The Cost of a Cancer Cure - June 12, 2012

    [...] But in May 2011, the National Marrow Program found Langer’s match: a college student named Maxine with whom Langer shares similarities far beyond bone marrow. [...]

  5. Cancer » Blog Archive » MDS: The Cost of a Cancer Cure - June 13, 2012

    [...] But in May 2011, “Be The Match” found Langer’s match: a college student named Maxine with whom Langer shares similarities far beyond bone marrow. [...]

  6. Myelodysplastic Syndromes: The Cost of a Cancer Cure | Mesothelioma - June 14, 2012

    [...] But in May 2011, “Be The Match” found Langer’s match: a college tyro named Maxine with whom Langer shares similarities distant over bone marrow. [...]

  7. Myelodysplastic Syndromes: The Cost of a Cancer Cure | - July 4, 2012

    [...] But in May 2011, “Be The Match” found Langer’s match: a college tyro named Maxine with whom Langer shares similarities distant over bone marrow. [...]

  8. News | MDS: The Cost of a Cancer Cure | Health Updates | Health related news and information - July 11, 2012

    [...] But in May 2011, “Be The Match” found Langer’s match: a college student named Maxine with whom Langer shares similarities far beyond bone marrow. [...]

  9. Reads of the week: An occult hand, zombies and a Jennifer Egan short story | The Daily Circuit Blog | Minnesota Public Radio News - May 17, 2013

    […] Emily Kaiser: In April, we did a show about young people with cancer. Our guest, Jenna Langer, is a cancer survivor and had a bone marrow transplant last year. Last week, she finally found out who her donor was. […]

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