And What Followed...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pepperdine MFA Screenwriting

Often when one overcomes cancer, one closely examines their life, and life in general. After examining mine, this is how I plan to move forward:

Three years ago, there were nights where I wasn't sure if I would make it to the next day. Today, thanks to my doctors, and the prayers of family and friends, I look forward to my future.

There is always hope.


Friday, September 11, 2009

I am THRILLED to announce that I've been selected as one of this year's Perpetual Scholarship recipients by "CANCER FOR COLLEGE." Yay! :)

I will be speaking at this year's annual fundraiser event next Friday, September 18. Will Ferrell will present the awards. It's a great honor.
Please come and share this very special night and support a great cause!

Information can be found at the website here:

For those who would like to come but are on a tight budget, I can get a 50% "friends & family discount".

If you cannot attend, please show your support by purchasing some Will Ferrell sunscreen off the website! It's hilarious!

Sorry to keep this so short but I've got a lot of schoolwork to catch up on! Aaah!

Blessings and Hugs,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Remember Michelle

I am very sad to relay the news that Michelle Maykin passed away last week. She was an incredible girl and an enormous inspiration for so many. Despite her struggle, she truly remained positive and and loved life til the very end.

Please remember her and her beautiful spirit by signing up on the marrow registry. And today, try to hug, forgive or love someone just a little bit more than you usually would... for Michelle.

With sadness and love,



This message from Glenn Agustin from A3M:
It is with deep sadness that I'm telling you about Michelle Maykin's passing last Friday. Diagnosed in February 2007, Michelle and the efforts of Project Michelle has since registered close to 20,000 people! Their novel efforts of outreaching via various forms of media awarded Project Michelle the NMDP's Excellence in New Media Award in 2008. Michelle's positive spirit and superhuman strength has touched and will continue to inspire the lives of patients, the NMDP staff, and strangers all over the world. Please keep Michelle and her family and friends in your thoughts and intentions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stacie Tamaki

I'm reposting this from Stacie Tamaki's entry on Tami's Blog. I was so moved by what she wrote, that I wanted to share. Please keep spreading the word.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Graham is Gone and Michelle's Prognosis: 4-6 Weeks

I share the news of Graham and Michelle with you not to make you sad, but to make you mad. Mad that neither were ever able to find a marrow match. Mad because Leukemia is a treatable disease and yet people die from it each day simply because there aren't enough people who have joined the National Marrow Registry, not just here in the U.S. but in Asia and Worldwide. Please don't forget people like Graham and Michelle... People who have suffered through so much illness, pain and recovery only to finally be told that there is no hope for them.

Graham Barnell and His Family May 2009

For the second time this week I spent the wee hours of the morning in tears. Several nights ago I learned that Graham Barnell, husband, father and Leukemia patient, had passed away. I met Graham through his Facebook Group after he first joined Tami's FB Group. I was one of many of his online friends who received a message at 2:49 a.m. on July 2nd breaking the sad news that he had "Passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and friends."

And early this morning I read Michelle Maykin's blog only to learn that she is almost out of time.

Last Monday she posted a post titled: How do you know when to stop fighting? Due to Tami's transplant taking place on Tuesday I hadn't made the time to check on Michelle the way I normally do so I was stunned. I literally felt my heart sink as my body began to tremble right before the tears came as I read that even with one medicine that is safe for her to take to slow her cancer, last week her doctor estimated that she has 4-6 weeks left.

Except for her loss of hair, she doesn't even look sick.

Western medicine has nothing left to offer Michelle when it comes to a cure. Her Leukemia has proven to be chemo resistant and no marrow match has been located. There are no treatments left whose benefits and possible effectiveness outweigh the terrible and possibly fatal side effects they may create. Both she and her husband Van were crushed. But despite being completely aware of the odds, Michelle is still not giving up. She is turning to Eastern remedies: herbal medicine, practicing Qi/Chi Gong, and sticking to certain dietary restrictions as her "last fight."

If Eastern medicine can result in major improvement or another remission and a marrow match is found NOW Michelle could still have a chance at not 4 to 6 weeks of life but 4 to 6 DECADES! She is only 27 years old :(

I love this picture of Michelle and Marshawn

Both Michelle and Graham participated in a clinical trial receiving double cord blood transplants at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center using the stem cells found in infant's umbilical cords. Cords used to be disposed of after a delivery but now we know that there are many reasons to save this stem cell rich blood source. Michelle's remission was about 5 months before she relapsed this spring. Graham suffered through and survived the most severe type of Graft vs. Host Disease and was then stricken with a terrible and persistent fungal infection only to succumb to a chest infection.

If either had found a 10/10 adult stem cell match their odds would have been better. A cord blood transplant is not an ideal match. But when no adult match has been found and the patient is out of time, it buys them some time. Imagine if during Michelle's remission a match had been located and she was able to receive a transplant by now.

Just last month Michelle's friends threw her a cancer "intervention" inspired by a particular episode of the TV Show How I Met Your Mother.

I post this because even though Tami received her 10/10 marrow match and transplant I feel the need to remind everyone that most patients do not. Most patients lose their battle when their 27 or 39 or 44. Many leave behind young children and husbands and wives, grieving parents and heart broken friends.

Statistically the odds are that only 30% of patients in need will find a marrow match and receive a life saving transplant. That means 70% of people won't find one and will die.

But that's something we can all help to change. Please continue to spread the word about all you've seen Tami go through and all you've learned here on her blog and website. Please tell people about Tami's website so they can learn more too. Please don't step back now that Tami's need has been met. We really need everyone to help us spread the word so that others who still have some time left, others like Michelle who need and deserve a miracle, can be saved.

If you want to send Michelle a message of support you can do so on her BLOG by leaving a comment on one of her posts.

Posted by Stacie (Tami's cousin)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Malibu Times

Earlier this week, Bridget Graham of the Malibu Times interviewed me for an article to help promote the marrow drives on the Pepperdine Campus this weekend. The drives are in honor of Robert Corrales, a beloved Alumnus who is fighting Leukemia and in need of a marrow match.

I picked up the paper last night and to my surprise, the article was the Featured Story of the "MALIBU LIFE" section! The wonderful news, really, is that I hope that the article brings more people to the marrow drives, thus more potential donors onto the registry! Here is the online version of the article if you would like more information on this weekend's marrow drives.

Yesterday, we held the first drive of this week during the game versus USC. Having gone to USC as an undergrad, I found myself torn between two loyalties, but in the end the game was about good sportsmanship and good baseball. Both SC and Pepperdine folks were signing up. When it comes to saving lives, teamwork knows no boundaries.

Before the game, I had the honor to speak in front of the stadium crowd. Despite an amusing start with a faulty mic, I was thrilled to be on the field. It is somewhat surreal to hear your voice echoing in the sky, with the Pacific churning in the background behind you, talking about how you almost died, if not for one hero.

Here are some of the volunteers and organizers of the marrow drives at Pepperdine. (From L to R) Tiara Dole, Toni Nocita, Brian Watson, Heather Collart, and Janet Slightam. And thanks also to Andre Fontenelle, cameraman extraordinaire, who came to document the event!

By the way, Pepperdine won 8-5 thanks to a rally in the eigth-inning that took off with a homer by Nate Johnson.

Pepperdine University, Malibu Campus Marrow Drives:
Friday, April 17 - 2pm to 5pm at the Eddy D. Field Baseball Stadium
Saturday, April 18 - 12pm to 3pm at the Eddy D. Field Baseball Stadium

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Pepperdine University will host marrow drives April 15th, 17th and 18th, in an effort to find a donor match for beloved alumnus Robert Corrales. This PSA was created in an effort to promote the drives on campus. It's my story, but I hope someday Robert will be able to share the same miracle with our community. Please help us spread the word!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Grateful Bridesmaid

A little over two years and a half years ago, when I was in the hospital and the future was still uncertain, my friend Beth turned to me and said "You can't die now because someday you have to be a bridesmaid in my wedding!" Beth, at that time, was not engaged to anyone. I, at that time, had less than a 10% chance of getting out of the hospital alive.
Last year, Beth did indeed get engaged to a wonderful guy named David. And at the same time, I got the "all clear" in my scans.

Last weekend, my friend BJ and I drove up to northern California for the wedding. The celebration took place in Tiburon, just north of San Francisco.

BJ, Beth and I go all the way back to college and have many fun memories working together at Roger Corman's Concorde Pictures. Beth has the unique talent of being beautiful, witty, sophisticated yet blunt at the same time. She was the friend I turned to when I needed "tough love."
The secret miracle Beth and I shared was that I was alive to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. No small feat.

Tom, Beth's brother and groomsman, was my escort. Sabrina and her Dad, Mike, were also there. Small world. If you recall, Sabrina was my mentee in the Young Storytellers program!

It was a lovely evening at the yacht club and I felt so thankful to be there for Beth and to celebrate her new life with this incredible guy she had found.

Life is unpredictable but wishes do come true.