It saved Eric 'Buck' Buckley's life, and he hopes to give that chance back to other cancer survivors.
He and his wife, Erin, will host a bone marrow drive this Saturday at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School.
Buckley, a Peabody native, is the assistant principal of PVMHS and is in remission from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the blood, which he is now recovering from thanks to a successful stem cell transplant.
Buckley was initially diagnosed in the spring of 2009 with Hodgkin's lymphoma and chemotherapy treatments that summer were not successful. Recurrent Classical Hodgkin's lymphoma was the diagnosis the following January, leading to a more difficult chemo regimen that summer and a stem cell transplant of his own cells in November.
And then this past March, more symptoms emerged and Buckley was given a new diagnosis: Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma, which is a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Currently, he said, his immune system is strong enough to work from home. Over the spring and summer, he spent several weeks in the hospital.
"I was put into a national database," he said. "Once they started the process, the initial process only took a few weeks. I, otherwise, would have died. I hope to save someone else's life."
Buckley received a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor in August. The family was initially nervous but relieved when they found -- surprisingly -- two matches.
All it takes is a cheek swab, a half-hour's worth of filling out eligibility paperwork, meeting certain types of blood markers, and volunteers who are between the ages of 18 to 60.
His wife, Erin, said: "Every year, 10,000 donors are needed. But only 5,000 get an unrelated stem cell. That shows a great need. Younger males, in the 18-year-old range, are preferred, and ethnic minorities are hard to come by."
There isn't a cost for donors to sign up Saturday, but the registry fee is $100 per volunteer. Donations can be made to: BeTheMatchFoundation.org or Bethematchfoundation.org/goto/bucksbattle. The bone marrow drive will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the school lobby.
The couple feels strongly about their effort, because the donations are permanent, strengthening a patients' immune system.
"This is the first drive we've hosted," Buckley added. "But we want others to have the same experience we did -- that someone's ready and willing to donate in the registry."
As for the four friends who ran the Nov. 20 Philadephia Marathon (and half marathon) and put on a Peabody dinner dance fundraiser on Nov. 26, Erin Buckley said:
"The runners came over before the marathon. They gave us T-shirts, and it was very moving. We felt choked up, as they were leaving. They met the timeframes they wanted to meet, and returned with a medal for him. The fundraiser was an amazing show of support from the whole community. The runners/organizers just ran a marathon, and were on their feet the whole time serving food. They didn't even look tired."