Meeting Maxine

14 Oct

We’ve waited. Girl, have we waited.

Throughout the last six months, I’d like to think Maxine and me have had a bit of a love affair. I have the “in” on her ambitious Halloween costume. I admire her loyalty to her favorite musician – when his tickets were too expensive, she settled with standing outside and holding her ear to the back door, only to be offered free floor tickets later for her resolve. I wonder at her artistic photos and have fallen for her cat Bucky, too.

It has been fun to trace our both very online lives and see where they intersected in the year we couldn’t know one another. My favorite:

But what I love most about Maxine is her unassuming altruism. In our first Skype date, I was finally able to ask her why she joined Be The Match in the first place. Leading up to my transplant, my family and I had ventured fantastic stories about why a then-19 year-old had joined Be The Match. She must have had an emotive connection, a reason she would be on a list like this so young.

Well, Maxine has always – well, for the few years she could – been a big believer in blood donation. A freshman in college, she went to a blood drive on campus with an empty stomach, knowing full well the spread of food they would offer post-donation for replenishment. But when the nurse took her temperature she determined it too high for donation. Maxine was torn. Could she silence her stomach growls and take one measly piece of pepperoni for her efforts before darting to class? She walked over to the card table holding the pizza boxes and, next to it, was the Be The Match registration table. So she joined – for a slice of pizza.

And not only that, but when Be The Match called and told her she was my potential match, she went in for blood work only two days later. “Well, I didn’t have class, so why wouldn’t I?” she told me matter-of-factly. When my doctors requested that she donate actual marrow, a surgical procedure as opposed to the more typical, non-surgical procedure of peripheral blood stem cells, she agreed without reservation.

This is what I admire so much about Maxine. She joined for a very regular reason, and she stayed committed throughout the process just because she determined it the right thing to do. And she’ll admit it. She doesn’t embellish and she doesn’t hero-icize.

Maxine restores my confidence that pure, selfless altruism is alive and well. Her humility will inspire me my entire life. I’m so blessed to have her DNA.

My family and I get to meet her on November 10 at the Be The Match National Council Meeting in Minneapolis. Girl, we can’t wait.


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8 Responses to “Meeting Maxine”

  1. Sharon B. Deutsch October 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    So cool Jenna. Can’t wait to hear how things go when you two meet 🙂

  2. Julie Kraus October 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    How exciting. I will wait for the blog on the meeting. Enjoy!

  3. Nanci October 15, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Jenna, I think of you often…and have been following your blog, am thrilled that you found your perfect match…I think I’ll join myself…maybe I will be someone’s perfect match!

  4. Rose Forst October 15, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Jenna, I am so excited for you both!!! She sounds like a perfect match in more ways than bone marrow.

  5. Vicki October 15, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I know you will take lots of pictures, what a special day for both of you 🙂

  6. Rebecca Douglas October 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    I’m so excited that I’ll actually be at council to witness this monumental occasion! I’ve followed your story since the day your step mom called about her group at work supporting the 1st ever Be The One Run in Minneapolis and I keep following to hear these wonderful updates! Thanks for letting us all share these occasions with you!

  7. Greg Kaiser October 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm #


  8. Moni-Q November 3, 2012 at 1:17 am #

    This is fabulous. I follow you on twitter (and vice versa! @lilminimo) and discovered your blog quite a while ago. I hadn’t checked it in a while, so when I came on and saw the two posts about Maxine I was thrilled for you! I was my brothers donor 9 years ago, and I have been signed up on the unrelated registry ever since. I love that you are going to meet at the Be The Match council meeting, I can only imagine how fantastic that moment will be. Anyways, I just wanted to send some well wishes, even though you don’t know me, I think you (and Maxine now for that matter) are awesome!!

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