Public steps up to help out Amador grad seeking bone marrow match
'I don't have much time,' Janet Liang says on video
Pleasanton is rallying around an Amador Valley High School graduate desperate for a bone marrow match in her fight against leukemia.
At the City Council meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman called on the public to help Janet Liang. The 2005 graduate is looking for a match, particularly from the Asian-American community.
Two local drives have been set up in the hope of finding a match for Liang, one at Mohr Elementary School from 2-6 p.m. on Feb. 16 and another at Amador on Feb. 25 from noon to 4 p.m.
Liang is working on a tight timeline, too: she needs a bone marrow match before April, or it will be too late to save her life. She has issued a personal, tearful plea on YouTube, asking for help.
"It feels like I don't have much time, and I realize mostly why I'm afraid of dying is because I'm afraid of what I'm leaving behind," Liang said in the video. "So, please, register your bone marrow, especially if you're Chinese American."
More than a dozen YouTube videos have been posted seeking help for Liang, many from people who have never met her face to face. There's also a Facebook page, Help Save Janet Liang, and a web page, www.HelpingJanet.com, devoted to helping find potential donors.
The Facebook page says she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2009 while studying at UCLA, and went through eight rounds of high-dosage chemotherapy that lasted over the course of a year. Some of her hospitalizations lasted for 30 days, while others took several weeks. In June 2010, she left the hospital in complete remission and began a regimen of maintenance therapy that kept her cancer-free for a year and a half.
During that time, she took a dream trip to England and France with her mother and also appeared in People Magazine on behalf of the nonprofit organization First Descents to promote hope and healing to other young adult cancer patients.
Liang was recently hired by a school district, but her cancer returned. The Facebook page says she recently relapsed and that her plans for the future have been put on hold once again, and that Liang "is now pressed for time to find a match for a bone marrow transplant that may be the last chance to save her life."
She's hoping to be out of the hospital in February so she can work on getting potential donors, when she's in less pain, and to have a month "to enjoy things that I haven't done before, I guess a bucket list."
"I need you to help me, to save my life or find someone out there who could save my life. I'm still positive," she said in her video. "I'm pleading with you, to just continue to get out on the drives. Register. I have until April to find a match."
There's already been one bone marrow drive, on Jan. 21 at Pleasanton Middle School. Typing is easy: All it takes is a cheek swab. But Liang is more likely to get a match from an Asian American, so her friends are asking for help particularly from that community.
Other drives, not just for Liang, but for other Asian Americans are being held in Northern California (www.aadp.org/drive/) and in Southern California (www.asianmarrow.org/index).
Only 3% of the nation is registered as potential bone marrow donors, according to Project Michelle (www.ProjectMichelle.com), which was formed to raise awareness and increase the pool of potential donors.