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Marrow donor registry drive to help cancer patients

  Essentia Health’s Melissa “Missy” Rowan is a great believer in “Be the Match” – a national marrow donor registry. The assistant head nurse in oncology and hematology at St. Mary’s Medical Center knows firsthand the importance of marrow donors.

In 2007, Missy was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia while she was pregnant with her second child. She received a life-saving marrow transplant and delivered a healthy, beautiful little girl named Angel.

“I couldn’t believe that I could get on with my life and still be a mom – be there for my children and my family,” she says. “That transplant gave me my life back.”

And Missy’s mission in life, besides being a great mom, is to raise awareness on marrow donation. While she had worked in healthcare in nutrition services, after her experience, Missy became a registered nurse to help others with cancer.

“The St. Mary’s staff was amazing, so wonderful and caring,” Missy says. “Now, because of my experience with the bone marrow transplant, I can give other patients hope.”

The Lake Superior Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society will hold a marrow donor registry drive from 5-8 p.m. Monday, at Black Water Lounge, 231 E. Superior St., Duluth. Rowan is the group’s program director.

The drive seeks adults between the ages of 18 and 44 who are willing to undergo testing and donate to anyone in need.

More information on the drive can be found online at