Somewhere, we don’t know where, there is a man. We don’t know what he looks like and we don’t know his name. We do know that he’s 28-years-old, that he has leukemia and that, without a bone marrow transplant, his future is bleak.
The doctors have told the man that, barring a miracle, he has got less than six months to live. Luckily, from time to time, miracles do happen . . .
That the man isn’t facing imminent death is thanks, in the main, to another man. We can tell you rather more about this one.
He’s 21, called Cameron Lyle, and he’s a student at the University of New Hampshire. He’s an accomplished athlete, specializing in the shot put and hammer throw. He agreed to join the bone marrow registry two years ago and, during the subsequent period, forgot all about it. Thanks to a one-in-five-million chance, he is a match for the sick man. Like us, he knows him not, not even his name. Yet Cameron has agreed to help.
His decision has come at a considerable cost. You see, in donating his bone marrow, Cameron will be calling time on his sporting career. The sacrifice, he says, is a worthwhile one.
‘It’s just a sport,’ explains Cameron, whose treatment means he will no longer be able to lift anything heavy, this at a time when the East Coast Conference – an event he has spent his entire college career training for – is fast approaching. ‘Life is more important and so I found [the decision] quite easy, it was a no-brainer for a decent human being. I couldn’t imagine just waiting [for a suitable donor] and he could have been waiting for years for a match. I’d hope that someone would donate to me if I ever needed it’.
Being as selfless as he is, Cameron’s concern was not for himself, but for his coach, Jim Boulanger, and his family, who he feared he might be letting down in deciding to turn his back on his sport. He shouldn’t have worried . . .
‘Here’s the deal,’ Jim told him. ‘You go to the Conference and take 12 throws. Or you give a man three or four more years of life. I don’t think there’s a big question here – this isn’t a moral dilemma, there’s only one answer. Cameron is a compassionate guy, it was a given that he’d do it. You can’t ask for anything more from a person than to help another person’.
Cameron talked it over at home and his decision didn’t surprise Chris Sciacca, his mom. ‘In five or ten years time, is he going to look back and say, ‘Damn, I wish I’d gone to that Conference’?’ she says. ‘Or is he going to say, ‘Damn, I saved someone’s life’? I know him very well and I know where his heart is and I knew he’d make the right decision. He’ll do anything for anyone.’
For the next 12 months, Cameron and the man must remain anonymous to each each other, although so deep is their connection, a future meeting seems likely. ‘I really want to meet him,’ adds Cameron. ‘I hope he wants to meet me.’
Here at OM®, this tale touched us for several reasons. Because it highlights that life is fragile but that we all have it in us to help each other. Because despite our differences, we’re all the same inside. Because odds of five-million-to-one aren’t great, but connection always finds a way. Because sometimes we can all make a sacrifice for the benefit of someone else.
Cameron has something special deep inside and it’s not just his bone marrow. Here’s to a man who is a decent human being and then some, and here’s to his kind heart . . .