CAC registers people to become bone marrow, stem cell donors


Thalia Rouley

President of Colleges Against Cancer Madison Carlson (back), a junior family consumer sciences major, and vice president Catherine Lestina (front), a junior elementary education major, help students sign up to become stem cell or bone marrow donors.

Dillan Schorfheide, Contributing Writer

Because Madison Carlson has had cancer twice in her life, she knows the importance of bone marrow donations.

Now she also wants to help others, which is why she, along with other members of Eastern’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer, helped people on campus register to become bone marrow donors on Tuesday in the Bridge Lounge of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

“(Cancer) has always been a part of my life,” Carlson said.

Although Carlson, a junior family consumer science major and president of Eastern’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer, does not recall ever getting a bone marrow transplant, she knows it can help those with a disease like cancer get better.

At 10 months old, Carlson had Wilms Tumor, a cancer that starts in the kidneys, and last year, she had thyroid cancer. Her father was also diagnosed with Wilms Tumor at 18 months old. In 2004, he was diagnosed with a different type of kidney cancer that spread to his bones and killed him.

“Even though it may potentially hurt getting the bone marrow extracted, it can save someone’s life and give them a second chance,” Carlson said.

Carlson said it was great to see so many students register to donate.

Colleges Against Cancer is a nationwide collaboration of students, faculty and staff who work to try and eliminate cancer. Cecilia Yoakum, a transfer counselor at Eastern and the adviser for Colleges Against Cancer, was approached by DKMS to hold a registration drive.

DKMS is an international organization that fights blood cancer by working with communities and families to recruit bone marrow donors.

Yoakum knows the impact of a bone marrow donation because it helped her cousin live longer.

In 1996, a first cousin of Yoakum’s had stage four non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Yoakum, along with some other family members who were registered, were checked to see who was the best match for her cousin.

Yoakum’s cousin had a 4-year-old son who was a better match for her.

Yoakum said she thinks it is worth becoming a donor to help someone else live a little bit longer. Her cousin lived about a year longer than the family expected from the transplant she got from her son.

Yoakum said cancer patients need the best possible match for transplants.

“If I could have saved her life, that would have made me the happiest cousin ever because I miss her greatly,” Yoakum said.

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some bones in the human body, including the thigh and hip bones. Bone marrow used for transplants is taken from the hip bones, according to

Bone marrow contains stem cells that can turn into red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets, states.

Healthy bone marrow is needed to help keep a person’s body healthy. Some diseases, such as leukemia or aplastic anemia, may require bone marrow transplants.

The people who wanted to register through the process were led by junior pre-med major MacKenzie Scroggins. After filling out a form for personal information and ancestral information, their cheeks were swabbed so their DNA could be checked as a potential match for somebody. The ancestral information and cheek swabbing is necessary because genetics is a big part of someone’s ability to be a match for others.

Carlson said her group was hoping to get around 30 people to register Tuesday, but ended up getting around 53 people registered.

“We’ll call that a successful day,” Yoakum said.

 Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].