Ailing WBAI LAB member Jon Cohen: how to help
WBAI LAB member and free-Pacifica supporter Jon Cohen will be getting a very risky bone marrow transplant for his life-threatening leukemia in about two weeks. As his note below explains, he will need platelet donations during August to maintain his health. Anyone who can help, please contact Jon at the email address below.
In addition, as with his last 2 hospitalizations for chemo, he will refuse hospital food and only eat natural, vegan (cooked, not raw) food. He would be extremely grateful for anyone willing to bring a meal now and then to Sloan Kettering Hospital in Manhattan. If you are interested in helping with food, please let me know. I can provide a list of do's and don'ts.
Thanks, and let's all send Jon our healing energy.
From: Jonathan Cohen
My apologies for the delay in getting you this information. A bunch of things have come up that have taken much more of time than I had planned. Needless to say, I'm completely moved that so many of you have offered to help with this.
It turns out that the primary need that I will have during the critical period--August 1 (the newly adjusted transplant day) to about August 21--will be for platelets. Platelet donations don't require any prescreening the way white cell donations do. So in this case, there is nothing that people need to do at this point, other than being willing to be available on short notice for the above period of time. Because of the short period of time that platelets are effective and storable (only five days), it will be useful to have your numbers for contact. Someone on my family support team will coordinate this. (You can email me your phone numbers if you're not sure I have them). The donation process takes 90 minutes and must be done at the blood donor center at Sloan-Kettering (212-639-7643). Anyone over 17 and in good health can donate. Taking various medications could be a barrier--you would need to check with the center. You will need to specify that it is to be a directed donation to me.
White cell donations may be necessary, though less likely. The process is more involved. Before anyone can donate, you need to register and be prescreened at the blood donor center. It involves going down there sometime before August 1 if possible. The center is located at 1250 First Avenue, between 67th and 68th. The hours are Tuesday-Thursday 8:30am to 7:00pm and Friday-Monday 8:30am to 3:00pm. You can just show up without an appointment, but if you need to call, the number again is 212-639-7643. I don't know how long it will take but it's probably best to plan for an hour or two. The actual donation process will take at least two hours. The criteria are as follows: You must be at least 110 pounds, aged 17-75 and in good health. The list of barriers include a history of various diseases, from hepatitis to HIV, and certain medications (you would need to call for specifics). Also, no tattoos in the past year or any history of injecting drugs. There are are also two questionable, or I should say, inappropriate guidelines. One is homophobic: you can't donate if you're a man who's had sex with another man since 1977. The other is ridiculous: you can't donate if you've ever used an illegal drug. On these two counts, as far as I'm concerned, I don't mind you lying for me. Having said that, I'll leave it to each person's judgement.
So many of you have sent me so much love and support, and at the same time asked for more concrete ways to help. This will end up being something that could be critical to my survival. Words couldn't possibly describe my appreciation for anyone who could do this. And at the same time, please don't feel bad or guilty if this isn't possible or doesn't work out for you.
with so much love,
--- Jonathan Cohen
From: Jonathan Cohen
My bone marrow transplant has been officially rescheduled. My donor has communicated that she is available on July 30 and 31 to make the donation of her stem cells. One of those days will become "Day 0," my transplant day. I will enter the hospital approximately ten days before to begin the conditioning chemotherapy treatment, probably on July 22. (Apparently, the lack of certainty at the moment is designed to leave flexibility for logistical reasons) I will be returning to Memorial Sloan-Kettering, where I underwent treatment for my first bout of cancer 6 years ago.
Barring another recurrence or any other unforeseen obstacles, it appears that I am finally on my way to this long-awaited medical climax. With less than two weeks to go, I am undergoing the final medical preparations and busily taking care of more personal preparations. I have recovered enough from my recent rounds of chemo that I can focus now on rebuilding and strengthening myself for the transplant. I am doing my best to gain a few extra pounds in order to deal with the probability that the chemo will create severe mucositis (mouth and throat sores) for a couple of weeks, which will make eating very difficult. I am continuing to do research and consult about nutritional issues and other strategies for best surviving this ordeal. And I have been, and will continue, c onsulting with those special few of you who are transplant survivors.
I won't repeat here the details of the transplant, as they are outlined in my Update #10. (For a refresher, please refer back to that, specifically beginning in paragraph 10. And please let me know if any of you did not receive it or want me to resend it.) The protocol and timing remain the same; only the dates have changed. The most critical time periodóthe time when my life will be literally hanging in the balance, and the time when your love, prayers and visualizations will be most neededówill be during the first two to three weeks in August.
The imminence of the transplant is again creating anxiety and trepidation for my family, Liz and I. At the same time, I feel a greater sense of calmness and confidence than I ever imagined I would at this point, and I feel it influencing them. After spending two years thinking about this and researching it, not to mention feeling emboldened by my recovery from this past winterís experience, I feel completely ready to take on this challenge. I know that the meditation I will do in the next week and a half will only bring me to a deeper level of focus and determination.
Whenever possible, I have been spending time with family, friends and co-workers. Yet as always, it never feels like enough. Since this is true for everyone in my vicinity, including Liz, it feels especially true for all of you who are far away. I so look forward to a time in the near future when I can spend quality time with each of you, no matter how far away you are. In the meantime, all I can say is that I love you all dearly and appreciate beyond words your being in my life. I look forward to seeing you at the recovery party.
With love and hope,
p.s. For those in the NY vicinity who are willing and able, there is particular assistance you can offer. My indefatigable support team of Mom, Laurie and Liz will need help in cooking my food and in being relieved of shifts in spending nights with me. Additionally, there is a possibility that I will need transfusions of white blood cells, which are not readily available. Potential donors need to register and be tested ahead of time at the hospital. If needed at some point, the donation procedure would take a couple of hours. Anyone can be a white cell donor (blood type doesnít have to match mine). Please let me know if you are interested.
--- Jonathan Cohen
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