DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When you’re a teenager, there’s a lot going on in your life. School, sports, clubs… but for Malena Brown, her whole world stopped, in an instant, when the doctor said, “You have leukemia.”
“I knew something was wrong, and I was scared,” she said about her diagnosis.
In 2013, Brown went from happy energetic teenager, to someone her mom didn’t recognize.
“Month after month of infection, ‘Mom I have headaches, I’m tired, I don’t feel good,’ ” said Brown’s mother Kim.
Dad Gary was hard at work as the Dallas Cowboy’s running back’s coach, when he received the call that he needed to come to the hospital right away.
“When he first came down the hallway there was a glass window, and when he looked in, and he saw her, he just kinda lost it, and literally broke down to his knees,” recalled Kim.
“It was the worst thing I’d ever seen in my life. I’d watched my parents both pass away. That was very difficult, but watching your own child suffer was ten times worse,” said Gary.
A blood test revealed chronic myelogenous leukemia. A bone marrow transplant was the only chance to a possible cure. But then came reality. The browns are a mixed race couple; highly under represented on the National Bone Marrow Registry.
“There is definitely someone out there it’s just they haven’t registered. The bad part is her brother and sister match each other, but neither one match her,” said Kim.
Malena’s cancer is still there, doctors have not found a match yet… but she manages well for now, with a daily dose of oral chemotherapy, and an extra helping of love, and laughter from her family.
“I definitely feel ten times better. Probably 110 times, but still part of me wonders if I might feel better, but very happy today knowing where I was three or four years ago,” said Malena.
I you have never considered signing up as a bone marrow donor, you should. It’s a simple swab inside your cheek.
Be The Match is the place to sign up for the national registry.
Malena is just another reason CBS11 anchor Doug Dunbar is now just four weeks away from the Ironman World Championship, all to benefit the leukemia and lymphoma society.