Leukemia patient, bone marrow advocate dies
Janet Liang raised awareness of need for Asian American donors
The young Pleasanton woman whose impassioned plea for help on Youtube led to thousands of people signing up as potential bone marrow donors has died.
Janet Liang, who graduated from Amador Valley High in 2005, died Sept. 11, a week after receiving a transplant from a near perfect match.
Liang, 25, battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia from August 2009. She was diagnosed 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 and her mother traveled to France and England, and Liang also appeared in People magazine to encourage other young adult cancer patients.
As an advocate for bone marrow donors, Liang raised awareness of the need for Asian donors to Be The Match, the organization that matches potential donors and leukemia patients. Marrow drives were held throughout Pleasanton starting in February and hundreds of people registered with Be The Match who might not have otherwise registered anywhere.
A Facebook page, "Helping Janet Find Her Perfect Match," announced that she had died.
"Janet has served as an inspiration to all those who knew her," the Facebook announcement says. "Her big heart and big smile was something that we all cherished. And although she never fulfilled her dream of being a teacher, she has taught us all one very important lesson: love. Despite battling leukemia for 3 years, she has always found it within her to make her situation more than about herself. Her campaign to raise awareness and advocate for bone marrow donors was for the love of her fellow human."
A website named "We Did It" noted that Liang's plea led to more than 300 donor drives, more than 20,000 new registrants and 18 matches for other patients. Through the power of social networking, the site says Liang's story led to South America, Asia, Europe and Australia.
Liang won a Juanita Haugen Community of Character award this year for her work in raising awareness and bone marrow donors.
Mohr Elementary science teacher Mikki Conley, who was diagnosed in December 2010 with lymphocytic stage 4 lymphoma and was also a focus for blood marrow drives in Pleasanton, died on April 4.