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This woman donated bone marrow and saved a kid's life. She wants you to know some things.

Your body may have the cure for someone's cancer in it. It's time to let it out.

Have you ever wondered what it's really like to donate bone marrow?

I have.

On the website Reddit, there's a thing called AMA, or Ask Me Anything. A bone marrow donor, Kristine Sydney, took to Reddit a while ago and told her story of submitting to be a donor, matching, and donating.


There's a lot of realtalk in there and a lot of really helpful real-world info about bone marrow donation.

Instead of mystery and assumptions of painfulness surrounding bone marrow donation, there was heroism. And the knowledge that my body might cure cancer!

Neat, huh?

So let's dive into Kristine's story, and find out nine key things she wants everyone to know about bone marrow donation.

1. If you're worried about the pain of the procedure ... don't worry!

GIF via "America's Funniest Videos."

I know I've thought, "I would love to register as a donor, but I don't like a lot of pain." (Does anyone?) "I can do blood donation, sure, but needle into my bone? NOT REALLY FEELIN' THAT."

Here's how the procedure felt in Kristine's words:

"Before the procedure, though I had read about other donors' experiences, it was impossible for me to anticipate how little or how much I would hurt afterwards. Before I left the hospital, the doctor told me explicitly not to lift heavy weights or go on a long run for several days - even if I felt little to no pain. 'It's still a surgical procedure,' she reminded me. My lower back/hip area was tender for three-four days but that was it and, if not for her warning, I would have returned to my regular activity a couple days after the procedure."

After reading this testimony (and this) my brain said ... sign up. But I was still skeptical.

2. The medical procedure could turn into a beautiful experience.


GIF via MLB.

It's true that if you do match, you'll undergo some medical procedures. But you also might wind up with some new friends for life.

One of the most popular questions of this web interview with Kristine was from the mother of the child Kristine's bone marrow helped.

"Hi Kristine, first off, thank you for saving my baby! What would you say to someone who is skeptical about signing up or perhaps fearful of donating their bone marrow & is only willing to donate plasma?"

Kristine's answer:

"Mia, I'm grateful you released your information. My life is transformed by Mailyna. For those who are still fearful, I'd suggest that they check out this Reddit, the AADP video, or even the picture of me the morning after the procedure. They should read up on what the process is actually like and not be scared away by the word 'donor.' Maybe a more appropriate, friendlier term is 'sharing.' The doctors took only less than 5% of my bone marrow, so my tiny, tiny, tiny gift, which was replenished, made that difference. It's like magic — truly — how the simplest of procedures and the tiniest of Band-Aids can save a life. I consider myself so lucky to have met your daughter and your family."

Mailyna's mom's reply?

"We adore you! You & Jake will forever be a part of our lives AND our family!"

Well now. That's great.

3. Donating doesn't take that long.

GIF via "Sesame Street."

Signing up only takes about 15 minutes. Then you swab your cheek and pop the swabs in the mail. That might be all. If you get a call as a match, there's a 25% chance you'll move to the donating phase.

Kristine details what happens next:

"After you get the initial call, you go and get some blood drawn to see whether you're a good enough/perfect match. If you are the best bet, you then go for a full physical, which includes getting more blood drawn, a urine analysis, a chest x-ray, and an EKG. If you are healthy enough to give bone marrow, you wait to hear when your recipient is ready to begin chemotherapy. In the best way, being told that you are a donor is getting a gold star for being in good shape, for being healthy."

After the donation:

"It's usually an out-patient process or an overnight stay. I stayed overnight (because of nausea from the anaesthesia.) I checked out of the hospital after breakfast the next morning."

4. You don't have to be a superhero to do it.

GIF via TotalFilm.

Kristine is clearly a cool lady, but she's not, like, Mr. Rogers or Batman or anything.

"I didn't think twice about donating, and now that I've done it and I've met Mailyna, I do feel that there is a human, compassionate obligation to register and then to donate. There isn't any reason not to do it. If you're eligible to donate, you are the lucky one, because your being chosen means that you're healthy and you're literally carrying someone's cure in your blood. What a gift it is to get the call."

5. There are plenty of good reasons to donate.

How about doing it to honor someone you lost? That's what Kristine did.

"I was mourning the loss of my former student Elizabeth, who had died exactly a month before I signed up. She died of brain cancer and, on my walk home from work, I saw a poster with pictures of children, all ethnic minorities, who needed to find a match. I signed up to honor Elizabeth, who was only a college sophomore, a child, when she died. ... I registered anyway, with the hope that, if I were picked, I could, perhaps, help another child."

6. Still think it's painful? Nah.

GIF via "America's Funniest Videos."

I wanted to address the pain thing again because it was a big concern of mine.

The procedure for those who donate is usually an outpatient process or overnight stay. Kristine said she stayed overnight due to nausea from the anesthesia. And the pain? She described it like this:

"(Like) pressing into your lower back with your thumb — with medium pressure only ... for about three or four days."

Everyone do that now. Go on...

Not too bad, right? I've danced a little too hard at a wedding and felt worse pain, and the result of that dance was NOT curing someone's cancer with my body!

7. She didn't have to pay for the medical care.

GIF via "Little Rascals."

The pre-screening for bone marrow donation (and this is if you match) is a full physical: blood tests, urine analysis, chest x-ray, and an EKG.

Good news. The National Marrow Donor Program paid for everything in Kristine's case.

"The National Marrow Donor Program, which operates Be the Match (the organization with which I signed up), paid for everything, from hospital stay to the hotel room to my dinner the night before the procedure. They took care of everything."

8. You don't have to know where your marrow goes if you don't want to.

GIF via "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Some people worry they'll feel bad if they donate and the recipient doesn't survive.

Whoa. Realtalk express, coming into the station here.

Firstly, the point is not to be Superman, but to take a chance and take the opportunity. And if that doesn't assuage your qualms, the whole shebang is VERY anonymous.

"The donation process is still anonymous. We were not allowed to exchange any information about ourselves until a year after the transplant. In fact, any correspondence I sent was first screened by the Rhode Island Blood Center to make sure that I did not share anything specific about myself (name, location, where I worked.) "

You're anonymous from the start. That's very important.

"In early May, a year after the transplant, my recipient and I were asked whether we wanted to release our information to each other. We both said "yes" and, in a moment of synchronicity, Mailyna's mother Mia had hit "send" on an e-mail the second I dialed her number. In July, the Asian American Donor Program (AADP) flew my husband and me out to California where we met for the first time at Kaiser Permanente where she had been treated."

After some time, recipients and donors can choose to release their info to each other. There's no pressure to do it, but for Kristine, meeting her recipient clearly had a big impact on her.

9. Bone marrow can essentially cure some types of cancer.

Seriously? GIF via "Empire."

Your body may have the cure for cancer in it! How cool is that!

Kristine states it perfectly:

"How amazing it is that another human body literally has the potential to be someone else's cure... It's hard for me, even now, to wrap my mind around it."

This online interview with Kristine had a huge impact on me.

Not because I need bone marrow or even because I know someone who does.

It's personal to me because while I'm a blood donor, I was kinda squeamish about signing up to be a bone marrow donor. It just seemed like signing up for the most painful, paperworky, awkward, and (again) painful experience of life.

I was so wrong.


GIF via "High School Musical."

So while I was writing this, I went to www.aadp.org/homekit and asked for a kit in the mail!


"When I met Mailyna, I also met Myla, another girl who is looking for her perfect match. I wish so badly that any of the people who need bone marrow would get a call saying, 'Hi. We've activated your match.'"

I'm sharing this because this one Reddit conversation changed my mind about becoming a bone marrow donor.

And in this case, changing someone's mind could save someone's life.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

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Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

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Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Cellist Cremaine Booker's performance of Faure's "Pavane" is as impressive as it is beautiful.

Music might be the closest thing the world has to real magic. Music has the ability to transform any atmosphere in seconds, simply with the sounds of a few notes. It can be simple—one instrument playing single notes like raindrops—or a complex symphony of melodies and harmonies, swirling and crashing like waves from dozens of instruments. Certain rhythms can make us spontaneously dance and certain chord progressions can make us cry.

Music is an art, a science, a language and a decidedly human endeavor. People have made music throughout history, in every culture on every continent. Over time, people have perfected the crafting of instruments and passed along the knowledge of how to play them, so every time we see someone playing music, we're seeing the history of humanity culminated in their craft. It's truly an amazing thing.

The pandemic threw a wrench into seeing live musicians for a good chunk of time, and even now, live performances are limited. Thankfully, we have technology that makes it easier for musicians to collaborate and perform with one another virtually—and also makes it easier for people to create "group" performances all by themselves.

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