Day +409: And though I never did meet you before…

“I said, ‘Hello, Mary Lou
Goodbye heart
Sweet Mary Lou
I’m so in love with you

I knew Mary Lou
We’d never part
So hello Mary Lou
Goodbye heart'”

Michael and I are very excited! I’ve been corresponding with my donor, Mary Lou, all week. She’s a delightful person, as I knew she must be. We’re flying to Washington state to meet her and her family in May, so I’ll finally be able to thank her face to face. In the meantime, we’ll continue to be in touch. Getting to know each other is both interesting and fun! Words can’t begin to describe how I’m feeling.

Mary Lou has kindly given us permission to post her comments about being a donor:

“My [bone marrow] donation experience was wonderful – I received so much support from every person that I encountered throughout the process. I live in SW Washington – our home is actually on the Columbia River which borders Washington and Oregon so I’m about as far south in the state as you can go!  I had to go to Seattle, which is about 3 hours away, on 3 separate occasions for screening, pre-op and the procedure.

“The procedure itself was uneventful. Post-op, I recovered very nicely. I anticipated that it would be extremely painful and was pleasantly surprised that it was not as bad as I feared. It took about a month or so for me to return to my normal energy level. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and have encouraged everyone I know to sign up for the donor registry.

“My husband and I had signed up about 5 years before I was called as a potential donor. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get on the registry – just provide a cheek swab and you are good to go! I honestly don’t understand why anyone who is able, would not sign up to be on this registry. The discomfort/inconvenience a donor goes through is nothing compared to the gift that they can give. Many people I knew were skeptical about me doing this and would say, ‘I could never do something like that,’ and that is just so hard for me to understand.”

If you’d like to join the NMDP (National Marrow Donor Program) registry and potentially save someone’s life, please visit the Be The Match website. There’s a link in the lefthand column under Useful Info.


  1. How kind and generous of her. I’m happy for you Karen!

  2. My comment is directed to Mary Lou – since I know she’s following:

    Thank you! For your generosity, compassion, and caring. You’re an angel and an inspiration.

    You are to collect one hug from Karen sent from me, when you meet this spring!

    My deepest heartfelt thanks!

    Karen’s friend Chris

  3. Karen,

    Thanks much for posting this. I think what makes it particularly important for potential donors to read this is the fact that your donor was donating marrow, not peripheral blood stem cells. That means she had to endure the equivalent of many bone marrow biopsies all at once, and yet she clearly would do it again in a heartbeat.

    It’s a great gift that she has given, and it’s very encouraging that she found the experience personally rewarding.

    Please thank her on behalf of all us other bone marrow warriors.

    Take care!


    And isn’t’ it cool that Ricky Nelson already dedicated a song to her!

  4. I am so happy that you have been able to correspond with Mary Lou. And to see her in person is great! You are both angels. Your husbands too. You have endured a lot. You are both inspirations to us all.

    PS. I guess Greg IDed the song. Hello Mary Lou. And to think you will be able to say those same words to her. 🙂

  5. Dear Mary Lou,

    I am Karen’s cousin and I have been following all of this since the very first day. My mom and Karen are very, very close and I couldn’t even imagine what she would have done if anything had ever happened to her favorite cousin!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    I tell my children that the reason we are put on this earth is to take care of one another. You are my sentiment put into human form. What an amazing thing to do for someone you do not even know.

    May God bless you and your family.

    Sarah Fessenden

  6. Dear Mary Lou
    thank you thank you thank you thank you
    thank you thank you thank you thank you
    thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!
    hugs and kisses Dana

  7. From Dearest Friends of Mary Lou

    Hello Mary Lou,
    Hello Karen,

    We applaud this magnificent gift from a marvelously inspired woman with DNA to match. Our pride in knowing Mary Lou and Jeff may only be surpassed by the joy of reading and admiring Karen’s story of strength, determination, success and gratitude. You, Karen and Michael, won’t be any less impressed when you meet Mary Lou than you are enjoying the new found health.

    Enjoy your joy and say “Hello Mary Lou” for us.

    Bud & Jo Hunnel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.