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December 02, 2008

Nice Texans Battle Red Day victory; I need your help for a more important battle

The Texans had a nice victory over the Jaguars yesterday on Battle Red Day Night but today I am going to speak to something much more important than a football game.

The Texans are hosting a blood drive at all Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center neighborhood locations from December 2-4th. There are additional locations that will be hosting the blood drive until the 9th. If you donate or attempt to donate during these times, and use the Houston Texans' group account number Q934, you will receive a commemorative T-shirt and a chance to win an autographed football. For more information, please click here.

Now is an especially important time to donate blood because people get busy during the holidays and there are often critical shortages. Unfortunately, the need for blood products doesn't take a vacation.

Donating blood and platelets is one way that regular people can be heroes. Blood donors literally save people's lives every day. You know that, but I am going to give you a story to help more understand that. Here it goes....

• • •

My sister Deb is a fabu, funny, generous person who likes helping other people. She is a couple of years younger than me and is my oldest friend. She's a single mom of a beautiful 8 year old daughter named Zoe.

At the end of 2005, she did a ton of work helping Katrina evacuees over at Reliant Center staging area. She worked very long hours helping out and started feeling extraordinarily run down.

Eventually, she made her way to an ER due to headaches and body numbness. They gave her a diagnosis she never expected. They told her she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and needed to start chemotherapy right away. A little less than 4000 Americans get ALL each year. Most of them are children. Nobody knows what causes it.

She went through many rounds of chemotherapy and eventually had a blood stem cell transplant at the end of February 2006. (A stem cell transplant is like a bone marrow transplant, but instead of transplanting marrow, they use adult stem cells harvested from the donor's blood sort of like the process of giving platelets).

Throughout her treatment, she wore a Battle Red Hat Texans baseball cap with short messages written on it from numerous Texans players. She figured her and the team were both having a pretty bad year, but they weren't going to stop fighting. It is an extremely difficult treatment, and it boggles my mind that doctors even envisioned that this sort of complete assault on the body might help someone.

But for my sister, she had her transplant and went into remission in March of 2006. Unfortunately, we just found out that she relapsed a couple of weeks ago, and she has been in the hospital most of the time since working through another series of chemo to fight her leukemia.

It is heartbreaking news that no words of mine can make real. If you want to get a better sense of her as an amazing person and what she has been through, go check out Deb's blog at www.debutaunt.com. I didn't know what blogs were about until Deb did hers, and she was the one that encouraged me to write about the Texans because I knew about it. Warning, her writing is a bit more saltier than mine, but it is funny, sad, real and inspirational.

She meant her blog to be a bit of silliness, and it turned out to be a connection to the outside world and a journal of what she was going through that saved her life at least on one occasion. Check it out, and please leave her a comment of encouragement.

Her life, her existence, her words make the case for blood donations better than anything that I could ever type. She needs your help, along with many others who are in similar situations.

Many, if not most, people with cancer undergo chemotherapy, which can temporarily reduce the number of circulating blood cells. The fatigue most cancer patients experience is caused in part by low levels of red blood cells (anemia), which carry oxygen to muscles. This is particularly true in patients with blood-related cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma, in which the disease itself can dangerously lower the body's production of blood cells.

If you want to help her specifically, you can donate at one of the four MD Anderson Blood Centers listed here. (The information you need to provide is "Deborah Greer-Costello-#663448.") Doesn't matter what blood type, she receives a credit. Here's a link to who is eligible to donate.

One of the reasons I love sports is that it is much easier to feel passionate about something that in the big scheme of things just doesn't matter. Watching displays of determination and overcoming pain over moving around a ball. A minor diversion from those things that matters greatly and feel you can never help enough.

So, in sum, give blood, save a life. More diversionary entries coming up soonishly...

Posted by Stephanie Stradley at December 2, 2008 01:20 PM

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Comments

yeah...giving blood is very important.

Texans win big and you decide to write this?

[Put your comment on the list of things that are OK if you think them, and really scummy if you say them out loud. There five zillion places you can read about the game. The blood drive started yesterday and obviously I feel strongly about it given that my sister has been in the hospital for the last two weeks receiving double digit blood transfusions due to having blood cancer. Yeah, I'll be talking about the game, and if you really can't wait for my snapshot view of it, it is here: http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2008/12/02/texans-30-jags-17-maybe-houston-should-wear-the-kool-aid-man-j/ As I said, I will talk more about it soonishly, so just hold your horses. Unfreakingbelievable, even for a Chron.com commenter. /headshaking -S]

Posted by: mack at December 2, 2008 10:18 PM

Wow, Mack. You're pretty much a tool. And by "pretty much" I mean entirely. Even if I didn't know Deb, I'd still say you're a tool. And also, a jackass.

Hi Sis! *I* think this is a rather lovely entry!! xo

Posted by: Ms. Pants at December 3, 2008 08:43 AM

My first reaction to mack's reply is that he must truly be a jackass, but in the spirit of the holidays, I will give him the benefit of the doubt for the following reason.
I think mack may have read the first part of the article but stopped reading before he got to the part concerning your sister.
My guess is that he thought that he was reading a generic holiday blood drive pitch, and stopped reading.
I guess it's debatable if he would still qualify as a tool if my assumptions are correct, because his response was still somewhat toolish even if we assume that he thought he was responding to a simple blood drive suggestion, but it is a little easier to stomach for me if I believe that he wasn't being so freaking callus in regards to a subject so close to your heart, Steph.

My thoughts and prayers go out to both of you, and I will try to get by and add my blood to that as well.

Posted by: michaelm at December 3, 2008 09:15 AM

I hope all goes well with your sis Steph, i can't imagine how difficult it must be for you and your family, but it sounds like your sis is a fighter. Donating blood IS very important and there is never a bad time to remind people of this, and hopefully you sharing your sister's struggle will help get some people off their keisters and find the time to donate. I would tend to agree with michaelm in thinking that mack is just a collosal douchebag that came to this blog to read about the Texans win, instead he finds a post about the need to donate blood to help others, and his mind couldn't wrap around comments that weren't centered around himself and what he wanted to read. He probably stopped reading the moment he read "I am going to speak to something much more important than a football game. Theres a blood drive at ...." stop. His mind then revolts and flashes back to that time when he saw a Texan cheerleader waving to the crowd, but in his mind he KNOWS she is just waving and smiling at him. C'mon mack, myopia is an ugly character flaw. You should go give blood just for being such a tool.

Posted by: Tommy Tune at December 3, 2008 09:56 AM

Stephanie I am really sorry to hear about your sister's illness. It is inspirational to hear her fighting spirit - you should be very thankful for that at least in the misery of circumstance that surrounds it.

[Deb is the best. I feel blessed to know her and to be her big sis. I'm with her now and she says, "Thank you. I really appreciate those who take the time out of their day to help people out. You guys rock."-Steph]

Posted by: Matt in Boston at December 3, 2008 10:05 AM

ms. pants, yeah i'm really a tool and a jackass.

Din't now lawyers had such english words...Unfreakingbelievable..

N-whase please accept my apologies.. i read the top part and din't bother to finish the whole story. Yeah i deserve it.

My warm and best wishes to your sister.

Happy holidays!

[Nah, it's cool. Thanks for the good wishes. -Steph]

Posted by: mack at December 3, 2008 10:06 AM

Steph, best wishes for your family, and your sister, of course, most of all.

To Mack....after Monday, you'd think everyone would be in a great mood, so let me ask you your own question - Texans win big and you decide to WRITE THIS? And a follow up......are you anywhere over the age of ten?

[Eh, he apologized. Bygones. Let's spread the word on donating blood. :) -S]

Posted by: rafterticket at December 3, 2008 10:08 AM

Mack is a poo poo orifice for posting such mean-spirited drivel. Best wishes to your sister and for a worthy cause.

Posted by: dang right at December 3, 2008 12:18 PM

Steph,
I donate platelets every two months at the Exxonmobil blood drive here on site where I work, I wrote down your sisters information and I will donate for her in 2 weeks and continue to do so until she doesn't need it any longer! Great blog with unique insight!!!! Mack is a TOOL!!!!!!!!

[That's awesome. Thanks. Here's more information on donating platelets and whole blood: http://www.mdanderson.org/departments/bloodbank/dIndex.cfm?pn=4499E730-38C1-4154-AE022E7734DF9264 Okay, everybody be cool to Mack. He apologized. :) -S

Posted by: fiendish1 at December 3, 2008 12:36 PM

Never be suprised by the stupidity that comes with anonymity. Mack you deserve some kind of award for being an a**.

I love reading this blog, but rarely post. I found this particular entry to be moving and inspirational. Made me think that I need to get back out and roll up my sleeve.

Steph, just remember that the average American is an idiot. The average American with a computer has the ability to voice their idiotic thoughts.

[Yeah, I think we all know that giving blood is A Good Thing, but it's easy not to make it a priority with everything going on, and it is good to have reminders of its importance. I actually think the average American working together can do amazing things. Mack and I are good now. :) -Steph]

Posted by: BCMT at December 3, 2008 12:44 PM

Boy! am i fried or what. Thanks Steph for the comments.

I'm actually going to donate blood for once this time, thanks to you.

[Haha. How wonderful. Thanks. -Steph]

Posted by: mack at December 3, 2008 04:32 PM

Thank goodness your blog is one that I generally read entirely or I might have made one of my tongue in cheek comments. I have a couple of friends who have so far won the fight with cancer. This city has the best Doctors and treatment availiable. I read some of your sisters blog and she can be Salty. But I like seasoning. It wouldn't bother me to read more about your sister and you are right that there is plenty out there to read about the Texans. I'm hoping to read soon on your blog that your sister is doing a lot better. Get well, Deb.

Posted by: Jack at December 3, 2008 06:37 PM

Thanks for the blog post about your sister. I enjoyed reading some of her blog. Amazing how when you write about one thing, though, that the comments can head off in a totally different direction.

Posted by: Jim Hughes at December 3, 2008 07:49 PM

Powerful stuff there Chick! And I thought you were just another pretty "red-head" with a leather whip! haha Looking forward to reading more in the near future, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Posted by: Leather Helmet on Row A at December 3, 2008 10:25 PM

Sorry I've not been around. Dialup sucks from the MC. *L*

It was a GREAT game and hopefully a stepping stone to more positive national prominence for the Texans.

++++++++++++++++

Steph, I wish I could.
I have a number of gallon coffee cups, but they don't let me provide blood (or blood parts) anymore thanks to what keeps me in and out of the MC.
But if it doesn't offend, I'll include Deb and Zoe, the rest of y'all's family, in my nightly prayers. If you're not a believer think of it like this - what can it hurt?
I hope for y'all good days in the coming Christmas season, and realization of the promise that Holy Day foretold.

[Oh yes, thanks very much for the prayers. -Steph]

Posted by: Lazarus at December 4, 2008 06:04 AM

Our thoughts and prayers are with your family during this ordeal. Please pass them on to your sister for me and let her know we are behind her.

Posted by: Tedc at December 4, 2008 06:22 AM

We'll be praying for your sister and also spreading the message about donating blood.

One time at the center an older, 60ish looking man came in for his 100th donation. Made me feel like a slacker. My daughter thought I was goofy when I told her I have donated more blood than I have in my body.

Blood is truly a renewable source. Give freely!

Posted by: Calvin at December 4, 2008 07:53 AM

Steph,
Hope your sister gets well, my wife is a nurse (PACU) at MD Anderson and on that note, giving blood is very important for everyone who is healthy to do. You never know when you might need it as well.

That said, white cell dontations are needed to help them fight infections, and we need to get more people on the bone marrow registry as well.

Best of luck to all the brave cancer fighters out there both patients and medical professionals!

Thanks
JLR

[Well said. My sister was very fortunate to have a bone marrow match with my brother, but many others are looking for a life saving marrow match. It's one of those issues my sister has been trying to promote with education. Here's the link on how to be a part of the National Marrow Donor Registry: http://www.marrow.org/HELP/Join_the_Donor_Registry/Join_Now/join_now.html Thanks to your wife and those like her! -Steph]

Posted by: JLR at December 4, 2008 09:47 AM

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