- Yuma Sun
- 17 Feb 2020
- BY RACHEL ESTES SUN STAFF WRITER
From Jeana Moore’s perspective, life is a gift that everyone should have a fair shot at receiving.
That’s why she’s on a 464.9-mile journey through the desert with a sign strapped to her backpack reading ‘Save A Life, Text LIFE to 61474.’ Called Steps to Marrow, Moore’s walk is taking literal steps toward raising awareness for the national need for bone marrow donors.
In 2007, Moore’s one-month-old granddaughter Jada Bascom began her fight with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare form of cancer for infants. By five months, Bascom had already received four chemotherapy treatments — but they weren’t working. Her parents were told that her only hope would be a bone marrow transplant, and the sooner the better.
Bascom was put on a waiting list while doctors searched born marrow registries in the United States and Europe. Out of 11 million donors, there was one match. At seven months old — a very short time compared to many recipients who wait years to find a match — Bascom received her transplant and, as her grandmother puts it, a “second chance at life.”
“It’s so hard to understand how an infant can be that sick,” Moore said. “We were really blessed to find that perfect match, because it’s so hard to find it. Sometimes there’s only one.”
Today, Bascom is healthy and just a few short months away from celebrating her 13th birthday.
“I’m just so grateful, and I want to give back,” Moore said.
In 2009, she founded the Jada Bascom Foundation and started walking, trekking from Seattle to New York City, each day speaking to people about joining the national bone marrow registry, Be The Match.
In 2012, to pay tribute to the German donor center that found her granddaughter’s match and raise awareness overseas, Moore walked through Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea.
Along the way, she’s enrolled over 20,000 new donors to the registry — and she’s not done yet.
Moore began her latest journey in Winterhaven on Jan. 24, winding through the desert into San Luis and onto Gila Bend. Next, she’ll head toward Tucson before finishing in Phoenix in March.
Moore said she mapped her route through the Sonoran desert because it’s a “good way to highlight the need for diversity.”
“The Native American and Latin American populations are underrepresented on the registry,” she said. “Our mission is to make sure everyone can find their perfect match and get a second chance at life, and we don’t want any particular population to have that chance lessened.”
Moore posts regular updates on the Jada Bascom Foundation’s website, jada bas come foundation. org, and invites others to join her for a few miles if they feel so inclined.
The website also provides resources and information on becoming a bone marrow donor and what that entails.
“A lot of people get frightened when they hear the words ‘bone marrow donor,’ because it sounds really scary to them,” she said. “But with advanced medical technology, it’s not as invasive as people would imagine.”
To join the registry, potential donors can text LIFE to 61474 to get started, or register online at bethematch.org.
“What’s important is that you register,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, Republican or Democrat — we’ve all been touched by cancer in some way, and we can all rally together to fight it.”