FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – Terry Harsh is looking forward to this weekend. The 41-year-old Army pilot will be in the area for a bone marrow drive in the hopes of finding a match for a stem cell transplant.
Harsh has served three tours in Iraq, but he’s now fighting his hardest battle.
“I rather be in Iraq,” Harsh said via SKYPE from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
In June, Harsh discovered he has an aggressive form of lymphoma, a cancer that attacks cells in the immune system. He’s been undergoing chemotherapy since June, but needs a stem cell transplant to be cured.
“As the treatment failed I think the gravity of the situation the intimidation of the word cancer sunk in,” Harsh said.
The father of three is now commuting every week to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Because no one in his family is a match, his best chance of finding one with his Swiss, Slovenian and German background is through the match registry.
“We really need to get thousands of people tested that have my ethnic background to even give me a shot to give me a match,” Harsh said.
Amy Guest from Frisco is determined to help her friend. She went to high school with Harsh’s wife Nancy.
“It really struck me,” Guest said. “It struck a chord with me because I thought, gosh, that could me my husband or my child.”
Guest has organized a bone marrow drive Sunday in Frisco, hoping to get as many people as possible to sign up. She spent the week putting together 400 kits for possible donors.
“We are hoping and praying that we find a match for Terry,” Guest said. “Even more than that I think about all the other people that we might help too.”
Right now there’s a list of 15 million people in the national registry database who can provide stem cells to stimulate a cancer patient’s immune system.
Amy hopes she can increase her friend’s chances and actually find a match.
“It can very well be the difference in whether I make it or not,” says Harsh “How hopeful am I very it’s all I’ve got.”
Sunday’s drive will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Faithbridge Presbyterian Church, located at 10930 College Parkway in Frisco. Contact Clifford Ackerman, North Texas recruitment coordinator, at 214-820-1589 for more information.