Friday Feb 21, Bone Marrow and Stem Cell donor Education Day in Tucson

Dear All, It has been an amazing and productive day amidst a fair share of dead end leads. The key is to keep going, to thank those I meet even if they are not able to help meet my needs right now.
I will not give you the blow by blow details but after traveling from floor to floor, room to room, elevator to elevator, department to department I was not able to locate the person or department at Banner University Medical Center that could help me today. But I did get to talk to alot of folks about how to join our national marrow donor program, Be The Match. And my meandering lead me to come up with some new ideas for working with hospitals across the country which I am already working on with Be The Match. So all in all my visit to Banner University Medical Center was very satisfying.
After my work at Banner University Medical Center I went over to the University of Arizona, which is just a short walk from the medical center. There I was able to visit with so many students: students from the nursing Dept, students from sororities, pharmacy students, students on the walkways, students in the ASB office, students, students and more students. The folks at the University were very receptive. It was an amazing and rewarding afternoon.
After Stacie picked me up. I was exhausted. I felt like I had walked 14 miles carrying my heavy backpack! I apologized to Stacie and Doug and went to bed early so I would be ready to begin walking north in the morning.
In evaluating my experience in Tucson the only thing I would have done differently is I would have arranged more days to do my “bone marrow and stem cell donation education.” The changes in my schedule did not allow me enough time. 😦

Wed. Feb 5th, Advancing to Gila Bend

Dear All, Wow! What a day! You never know what you will encounter when you are relying on the generosity of others for your food and housing. The practice of relying on the generosity of others manifests in accepting the answer that is given, for example if someone declines to help me I thank them for listening or for considering my request. It is also a practice of receiving what is given. It is a practice of discernment of what I need and what I want. And it is the practice of sharing the opportunity with others to give. Today was centered around this practice of relying on the generosity of others.
A very good man named Juan gave me a ride from the Dateland Travel Center to Gila Bend. Juan spoke very little English and I speak very little Spanish. But we were able to communicate a lot about ourselves on the ride from Dateland to Gila Bend. Juan was born in the Sonoran Desert on the Mexico side of the border. He and his wife raised 4 great kids 3 boys and 1 daughter…
After Juan and I parted ways I started to look to take care of my immediate needs, first, a restroom. I stopped in at the McDonald’s. After I took my pack off someone hollered to me from across the room, “I saw you on the news.” I went over and she and her husband invited me to sit with them. They had many questions about Jada, bone marrow donation and the Steps To-Marrow 3 walk. They bought lunch for me and we visited for quite a while.
Having used the restroom and had a filling lunch I turned my attention to finding a safe place to sleep for the night. I walked all the way down the main street, Pima Street, going west to east. I stopped at hotels and churches mostly. It was Wed afternoon so no one was at the churches and all of the hotels turned down my request for a room. But the desk clerk at the last hotel told me that the food bank at The Church at Gila Bend opens up after 3. She also said that they will sometimes pay for folks to stay in one of the hotels for the night. So I slung my backpack up over my shoulders again and walked back down Pima Street, this time going east to west.
I was fortunate that The Church at Gila Bend was still open when I got there. A very kind person named Linda phoned the right people and pretty soon I was dropped off at a very run down hotel back to the east again on Pima Street. I hadn’t stopped at this particular hotel on my first trip down Pima Street because it looked a bit seedy. But here I was receiving the gift of one night at the Payless Inn. The desk clerk hidden behind a thick glass shield was used to dealing with Paul from The Church at Gila Bend. He helped me get settled. The room was saturated with the thick lingering odor of cigarette butts. It looked relatively clean and I could take a shower. I took off my boots,put on my sandals, and prepared for a shower. I noticed a bite on my ankle. “Umm, fleas.” I wondered. Following the shower I got bites not only on my ankles but also on my wrists and soon I saw a flea jump across my field of vision after a little baby chomp into my neck. That did it for me. I quickly packed up, locked the door to room 16 crossed the courtyard and slid my key under the thick glass shield at the counter in the office.
“Ok, Jeana, it is dark outside, after 8:00 pm and you have no place to stay. What are you going to do?” The best option that I could see was to walk to one of the all night gas stations. As I headed to the gas stations at the west end of town I noticed that there were folks at The Church at Gila Bend. I stopped by to let them know that though I appreciated the room I was not going to be able to stay there. It turns out that on Wednesday nights they have Bible study. They had finished Bible study and were visiting on their way out. After I explained about the fleas everyone looked around from one to the other not sure what to do next. Then my trail angel Linda spoke up. “Come with me.” She said. She loaded me, my backpack and another guest, David Smith into her 2001 Pathfinder, Nissan and drove me to a building that she is remodeling. There she gave me a mattress and a safe place to sleep for the night.

One more day in Winterhaven Jan 23

Dear All, The last day for Preparations before the third Steps To-Marrow walk begins tomorrow was a very busy day, lots of people to talk to and lots of walking in-between.
The most important encounter for me was with the Quechan Tribal Council Secretary, Regina Escalanti. I was pleased to learn that they were expecting me and knew about my request to begin the walk on Quechan tribal lands, at the Yuma Health Center, thanks to the preparation work of my friend Pat Healy.
Pat helped our family when Jada was in the fight of her life against Acute Myeoloid Leukemia. He was President of Bikers Fighting Cancer at the time. They helped our family with things like gas money to get to Seattle to be with Jada when she had her bone marrow transplant. If you have experienced a medical crisis and the financial distress that strikes the family along with the heartache and worry for your loved one then you will understand the tremendous gift that acts of loving kindness bring. That’s what Pat and so many others who reached out to help us brought to our family through acts of caring.
So with Pat’s help again I met with Regina. She spoke with members of the Quechan tribal council and they invited me to come to the council meeting on Thursday Jan 30th. So someone will come to pick me up along the road on Wednesday afternoon and bring me back to Winterhaven so I can attend the council meeting. Auspicious beginnings