I am starting to really enjoy writing these posts and reflecting on the previous month and what, if anything, I have done to give back in some way. The only problem is that I am really noticing how quickly this year is going and I can’t believe that we are now at the end of May, 5 months into my 12 month project – My year of giving, so what have I been up to in May?
A couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through facebook as I do most days and an article on the Chester Chronicle caught my eye. It was a picture of a happy, smiley, family but the headline wasn’t as happy and read “The search to find life saving stem cell donor for dad of two” so I opened it up and had a read. By the end of the article I had learnt about the life of a dad that hangs in the balance as he waits for a match to be found and as his children are the same age as mine the reality of the devastation it would cause if no match was found really hit home for me. I did a little research and found out that in order to see if you are a match you simply need to take a swab from the inside of your cheek, nothing painful, taxing or even time consuming. I then read on to find that if you are a suitable match there are two ways to donate, 90% do so in the same manner as giving blood which I do anyway so this is fine and the other 10% can donate through bone marrow, which is a little more complex and time consuming but as it’s not the majority I didn’t let me put it off.
After doing my research and thinking about what it would involve I requested a swab pack so that my stem cells can be tested to see if they are a match for Peter. I have also ticked the box to say that my information can remain on file until I am 60 so that if I am not a match for Peter they can continue to see if I am a match for other individuals in the future and if I am I will be asked if I am still happy to donate.
In some ways, at it stands right now, I haven’t actually given anything yet but this project was never about that, it was about raising awareness of the ways you can help others without making a financial contribution. Ways that you may not have been aware of before, ways that may even be more beneficial than cash donations and could potentially help individuals in need right at that moment and perhaps even improve quality of life, prolong or even save it.
So, if you haven’t already registered to donate stem cells and are interested in finding out more then please do visit the DKMS website for more information and to order a swab kit if you would like to be added to the register.
The second way I have given back this month is by giving my time. Only an hour on a Saturday along side my son to bag pack in our local Asda to help raise funds for the ongoing rebuild of the scout hut. Now don’t get me wrong I am really not one of these parents that gives time freely, even though I probably should be, and I could definitely think of more things I wanted to do on Saturday morning that packing other peoples shopping in a busy supermarket but I felt it was the least I could do and I am really glad I did.
I’m not glad because I had the time of my life, in fact I spent most of the time coaxing my child in to talking to strangers which is ironic considering I have spent so much of his 8 year life telling him not to, and then spent more time teaching him how to pack a bag without smashing the oh so important wine, squashing the bread or cracking the eggs. No, I’m glad I went because I got speaking to an older gentleman who took the time to talk to me about his time as a scout leader 30 years ago and how in his opinion scout leaders today are just glorified babysitters who are used to give parents a night off once a week as well as the odd weekend. He explained that what they did was so much more, that each evening can take hours to plan and prep, that everything they do is for free and that they are worth their weight in gold. I knew all of this, of course I did, but hearing him reflect on his time as a leader made me really consider just how much are scout leaders do for our community, especially at the moment as they work tirelessly to raise funds for the referb and then spend even more time actually doing the majority of the work themselves and for what? For our children that’s who. So in the grand scheme of things that was one hour out of my day when they give that 10 fold each week to enrich the life of my son, teach him skills he will use throughout his life and give him a safe environment in which to grow, play, and express himself.
My one hour of time is nothing but mediocre in comparison and in all honesty slightly embarrassing but I’ve included it here to let you see that once again there are opportunities in which you can give back without needing to spend money. Perhaps your local community group needs you, perhaps, like me you find you can normally make an excuse easily and readily but perhaps, again like me, you might now volunteer just a fraction more time to help those that hep you so selflessly.